On Thursday, the Tennessee Titans hosted former San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos defensive lineman and outside linebacker Shaun Phillips. Within a matter of minutes, the team had signed him to a 2 year six million dollar contract with $2.5 million guaranteed. I have been calling for this signing since free agency began and I am very excited that the team has agreed with me.
The 11 year veteran has been amazingly durable and productive during his career in the National Football League having missed only 8 games. He has 508 tackles (383 solo), 79.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions for 70 yards and 2 picks sixes, 42 passes defensed, and 36 tackles for a loss.
Like teammate Bernard Pollard, Phillips is a former Purdue Boilermaker who has excelled on defense in the league. A 4th round pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers, Phillips played in San Diego from 2004 to 2012. He spent the 2013 NFL season with the Denver Broncos.
At 6′ 3″ and 255, Phillips is the kind of versatile defensive player who should do extremely well in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s system. Per Pro Football Focus, since 2007, he has 173 quarterback hurries, 205 defensive stops and 32 missed tackles. The website’s data right now only goes back to 2007. The versatile lineman can play outside linebacker on either side and spent the 2013 season playing left and right defensive end for the Denver Broncos.
The Titans will be running a hybrid defense this season and Phillips versatility will come in handy. Whether playing outside linebacker or defensive end, the Titans will surely want him to pressure the quarterback. Phillips has 19.5 sacks in his last 2 NFL seasons.
In 2012, playing as an outside linebacker in San Diego’s 3-4 defense, he finished with 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 passes defensed and and 2 tackles for a loss. He wasn’t their cover linebacker only being targeted 7 times with 6 receptions but he didn’t give up a touchdown.
During the 2012 season in addition to the 9 sacks and other stats, he had 6 quarterback hits, 23 quarterback hurries, 2 batted passes and 18 defensive stops. It is his ability to pressure and get to the quarterback that the Titans brought him in and quickly signed him.
The 2013 season saw Phillips in Denver in a Broncos uniform playing in a 4-3 base defense. Originally signed as a rotational lineman, he saw extensive playing time due to Von Miller’s suspension and then the subsequent ACL injury. Phillips responded with a 10 sack season. He would play 930 snaps or roughly 70.5 percent of the defensive snaps. As is to be expected, his largest percentage of snaps came on passing plays (561) instead of run plays (317).
In addition to the 10 sacks, Phillips also had 4 quarterback hits, 36 quarterback hurries, 4 batted passes, 35 tackles (28 solo), 2 forced fumbles, an interception, and 5 passes defensed. His knack for forcing fumbles is an added bonus. The Titans started out the 2013 season with an excellent take away ratio but that faded down the stretch. The only concerning note about his 2013 season are the missed tackles. He had a career high 8 on the season.
All in all, this is very much a good signing for the Titans. Phillips will immediately enter the rotation as a guy who can improve the defense whether at the end position or outside linebacker. This is great news for a Titans defense led in the sack department by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey who finished the year with 10.5 sacks. Derrick Morgan was next with 6. On the year, the Titans had 36 sacks, 50 quarterback hits, 199 quarterback hurries, and 16 forced fumbles with 12 recovered.
I think another thing I like about the signing is what a smart player he is. The Pro Football Focus data again only goes back to 2007, but he has had only 21 penalties in that time frame. By far his worst season was in 2009 when he had 7. In the past 4 years he had 8 penalties with 4 of those coming during the 2012 season.
As for the draft, I wouldn’t expect this to affect their draft plans very much. It does lessen the need for a pass rusher and it frees the team up to truly be able to focus on taking the best players on their board. Their entire free agency strategy seems geared toward this result. I wholeheartedly approve too.
Welcome to the Tennessee Titans Shaun Phillips we are very happy to have you.