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All-22 year in review: Buffalo Bills DT Harrison Phillips

Should the Bills look to bring back some homegrown talent?

When the Buffalo Bills selected Harrison Phillips in the 2018 NFL Draft, he was billed as a potential replacement to fan favorite Kyle Williams. Phillips quickly filled the fan favorite check box but mostly underwhelmed on the field. Snap counts suggested in 2019 that Phillips might be overtaking Star Lotulelei for the role of space eater in the middle. That question remained a question mark after Phillips suffered a season-ending injury.

However, in the following season Lotulelei’s opt-out didn’t lead to a massive surge in playing time for Phillips. The end of this year saw Phillips seemingly earning time ahead of Lotulelei again. So yeah. Clear as mud. Maybe some All-22 will help us sort things out. It’s our first free-agent review of the offseason! Phillips will be counting on a strong final impression, so let’s dive into playoff footage.


Play 1

Everyone flows to our left and theoretically Harrison Phillips’s man would stay in front of him to prevent the thing that actually occurs, which is a tackle by Phillips. Phillips is able to clear the block and, thanks to a bit of luck, Greg Rousseau is in the way of the offensive lineman. That frees Phillips up completely.

Play 2

Harrison Phillips punches a few times, which helps drive back the right guard. A quick rip move to the inside then gets him right past. Some quick thinking by the guard shoves Phillips past the play but it’s enough to get Mac Jones scrambling. Jones has positive yardage thanks in part to the lane vacated by Phillips. It’s a nice interplay between the risk/reward inherent in the pass rush.

Play 3

There’s not much to see here, but this is something that happens a decent amount. This doesn’t look super useful but remember that if a second man is on Phillips he’s not somewhere else.

Play 4

Mac Jones is hurried by Phillips thanks to some nice hand fighting. Phillips’s left hand punches up at the elbow of his opponent, which creates all the room he needs to cut around.

Play 5

I do tend to lean toward upside but it can’t all be highlights. Harrison Phillips had an impressive 42 reps on the bench press coming out of college. Despite that, Phillips doesn’t seem to have consistent power. Here he’s shoved out of the play. Some of it seems to be technique related, with some footwork lapses.

Play 6

Phillips has a couple gaps he may need to cover and diagnoses the correct one. The compact swim with his left hand and shove with his right gets him in position to get in on the tackle. The back falls forward for a gain of four but it may have been worse without Phillips getting in the way.

Play 7

I hinted at inconsistent power. That means it shows up sometimes. The punch to the chest rocks the right guard. Patrick Mahomes dances and gets the throw away, but it’s off target.

Play 8

We see that compact swim again to free himself. Phillips reads the play well and runs right to the gap. He was critical in helping set up this three-and-out.

Play 9

But again, it can’t all be highlights. A lot of these plays show upside and overall skill set. Phillips loses this matchup and is shoved to the left. He does diagnose the play correctly but, due to the early shove getting him out of the way, he’s late to the party.

Play 10

Harrison Phillips is responsible for a lot of real estate here and shadows Patrick Mahomes—pretty well all things considered. He stumbles on Mario Addison on the way to the sideline, otherwise he might have forced Mahomes further to the edge.


Summary

Harrison Phillips has progressed quite a bit in his tenure with the Buffalo Bills. Phillips’s ability to flow side-to-side is a major asset. While I was left wanting a little bit on the “shoving other large men out of the way” department, he is able to soak up double teams despite lacking that consistent push. Phillips has come a long way with his hand technique as well.

All told, Phillips seems to have finished the season strong and is likely in line for a decent payday. If it’s general manager Brandon Beane spending some Pegula-bucks I wouldn’t be upset by any means.

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