New England coach Bill Belichick compared former Texas Longhorns defensive back Adrian Phillips to former Patriots safety Patrick Chunk and praised Phillips’ consistent play all season during a press conference last week.
Phillips backed up Belichick’s words with a seven-tackle performance in the Patriots’ 36-13 win over Tennessee on Sunday, one that put the Pats a half-game ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the NFC East.
“You can see his instinctiveness,” Belichick said. “You go all the way back to him at Texas and talking to his coaches back there. It’s pretty much the same thing in college as it was in the NFL. Very instinctive. Very high IQ. Plays faster and bigger than whatever his dimensions and times are. He’s got a real high level of instinctiveness and anticipation. For a lot of players in that position — linebackers, safeties, guys that play kind of in the interior part of the defense — when you have a lot of guys running around, doing different things, no matter how fast the guy is, it can slow them down.”
Phillips, in his second season in New England after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, has produced consistently, just as he did a season ago. With 59 total tackles (33 solo), he’s not quite on pace to match last season’s career-high 109 tackles. But, he’s already put together a career-high four interceptions, which is tied for seventh-most in the NFL.
He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown on Oct. 31, which came against his former team in Los Angeles.
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Three of Phillips’s four interceptions have come during the Patriots’ six-game winning streak, as has his only forced fumble of the season. Four of his five passes defended have come during the winning streak as well.
The Patriots play the Bills on Monday night.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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