The 5: Get to know Cardinals DT Jordan Phillips
The Arizona Cardinals signed defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to a three-year deal this offseason hoping he could complement outside linebackers Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard, plus returning nose tackle Corey Peters.
The 27-year-old is coming off a 9.5-sack season with the Buffalo Bills in his first full season with a team other than the Miami Dolphins, who selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft.
Meeting with Arizona reporters for the first time since agreeing to a deal with the Cardinals, Phillips discussed his fit on a new team, his bowling talent and a hectic past few weeks that included the birth of his daughter.
A ‘hectic time’
Keeping in shape and finding ways to self-prepare for the upcoming season hasn’t been the first priority on Phillips’ plate over the last few weeks.
On March 29, his fiance gave birth to Maya V. Phillips (yes, her initials are MVP). It’s been a “tough” process considering the couple was navigating strict health precautions due to the coronavirus spread in the United States.
“It’s kind of a hectic time,” Phillips said.
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The hospital limited how many family members could be in the room during his daughter’s birth. Since the birth, family members and friends needed to see Maya for the first time through windows at the hospital or the couple’s home.
“That’s kind of the weirdest thing,” Phillips said. “I feel for my fiance because she couldn’t have the traditional mom, sisters in the room when she had the baby.”
The draw of the Cardinals
Phillips rattled off a few attractions that led him to join the Cardinals.
Maybe more notable was the chance to play alongside outside linebacker Chandler Jones, who posted 19.0 sacks last season.
“I wanted an elite pass-rusher next to me to try to cause some havoc,” Phillips said of Jones.
“Selfishly it’s going to take double-teams away from me and help me get free. When you have somebody like that who’s averaged over I think 15 sacks over the last three years, you don’t seem like a concern.”
The tackle also played under Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph in his second NFL season when Joseph was the Dolphins DC in 2016. Phillips likes the attacking front that will likely put him alongside Corey Peters at nose tackle, and he also mentioned the opportunity to play under new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
“They’re getting after the person in front of them and they’re rushing the passer and those are things I do well,” Phillips said, adding he will have to adjust in a 3-4 front.
Not a one-hit wonder
At 344 pounds, Phillips has historically been shifted in and out of lineups, but even at playing 52% of the available snaps, he said his 2019 season with the Bills was only viewed as a breakout year because it allowed him more opportunities in pass-rush situations.
He finished with 9.5 sacks after having never surpassed 2.0 in a single season prior.
“A lot of people think it was some miracle or I was playing for a contract, etc.” Phillips said. “It was my first time on my career being in the third-down group. I had a lot more opportunity just to get more sacks and be more productive.”
Career ‘jumpstart’ was leaving Miami
Phillips never lived up to expectations in Miami, which selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Oklahoma.
He was released just after television cameras caught him during an outburst on the sidelines of an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots in 2018. Buffalo added him off waivers following Week 4.
Phillips has since attempted to clarify that he had wanted out of Miami at the start of that season. Now, he calls it a career-altering change.
“I had asked for my release (from the Dolphins). It wasn’t anything — and there were a lot of reports about the sideline outburst,” he said. “It just wasn’t true. We had came to the Dolphins before training camp and asked for a release or trade.
“Finally, after that game they felt like it was time. For me personally, I felt like that was the jumpstart to my career. I felt like fresh start, new team, new faces, new opportunities.”
He is very good at bowling
Phillips wore a “Motiv Bowling” shirt during his meeting with Arizona media members on Monday, and that begged the question.
Is he a Pro Bowler?
“This offseason they actually picked me up on their roster, I guess. I’m not sure how to say it. I’m not into bowling terms. I’m just a good bowler,” Phillips said.
“I average about 220, 225. It’s not bad.”
Neither is his best score: 299.