Kyle Phillips could be a subtle savior for the New York Jets
Stopping the run has been a massive problem for the New York Jets this season. They rank 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed (19), 29th in rushing yards per game allowed (133.9), and 29th in yards per rushing attempt allowed (4.7).
Have no fear: Kyle Phillips is here.
On Wednesday, the Jets announced that they have activated Phillips off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
We've activated DE Kyle Phillips.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 17, 2021
Phillips has been an oft-forgotten name amongst Jets fans since his arrival as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2019. After playing 15 games as a rookie in 2019, Phillips’ 2020 season was halted at seven games due to an ankle injury, and he has been absent ever since while rehabbing the injury.
Over his 22 career games, the 6-foot-4, 277-pound defensive end has registered only 1.5 sacks, so few fans have any notable memories of him. His last sack came on Dec. 22, 2019.
But Phillips’ game has never been about pomp and flashiness as a pass rusher. His game is all about grittiness and hustle against the run.
In 2019, Phillips recorded 16 tackles for no gain or a loss in the run game, ranking as the third-most among all edge defenders in the NFL.
Over six healthy games in 2020, Phillips had five tackles for no gain or a loss in the run game, an average of 0.83 per game that would put him on pace for 13 over a full season. That total would have ranked fifth-best among edge defenders in 2020. Plus, Phillips maintained that high level of production despite seeing a dip in playing time from 36.3 snaps per game in 2019 to 28.5 in 2020.
When Phillips gets a chance to make a play, he rarely blows it. Phillips made 41 tackles against the run from 2019-20 while missing only two, giving him a miss rate of only 4.7% as a run defender.
That would represent a huge improvement for the Jets. In 2021, their edge defenders have made 48 tackles against the run while missing seven, giving them a miss rate of 12.7% – more than double Phillips’ rate. Shaq Lawson is the primary culprit for those woes with 14 tackles and four misses for a unit-leading 22.2% miss rate.
Once Phillips gets back onto the field, look for him to play an integral role in getting the Jets’ run defense back on track.
Thanks to Phillips’ strong edge-setting, the Jets allowed very little production on outside runs while he was on the field. New York gave up 3.7 yards per carry on rushes directed outside of the tackles in the 15 games that Phillips played in 2019 (Weeks 2-17), which ranked as the best mark in the NFL over that span. The league average on those carries was 5.2.
Here in 2021, the Jets are allowing an NFL-high 8.7 yards per carry on rushes directed outside of the tackles.
Phillips’ return could be the jolt of energy the Jets’ run defense desperately needs.
It can’t get worse. The DL has been a HUGE disappointment this season. I know they’ve had some guys go down but I’m sorry this group has been underwhelming. There is a huge problem brewing too….JFM isn’t worth the money, and Q will need to be paid. Foley will be a free agent and I don’t see them signing him, some 3-4 is going to bring a truck of cash for him. Basically it will be back to square one next yet. This team isn’t getting better.
I guess we’ll see how Philips will do
Zuniga & Blair have been given their shot. Kyle could get serious reps.