Free Agent Safety: Kenny Phillips, Fit for the Redskins?

| February 6, 2013 | 2 Comments

Free Agent Safety Kenny Phillips #21 S , 6’2″  217Lbs

Birth Date: November 24,1986 (26)

Birth Place: Miami, FL

Experience: 5 years

College: Miami (Fla.)


When Kenny Phillips is healthy he’s one of the premiere safeties in the National Football League. He has a unique blend of size, athletic ability. and discipline that makes him a difference maker on defense. There are not many safeties in the NFL that can match up with the best Tight Ends and Wide Receivers in  football equally well. He brings a physical style to the game that makes WR’s think twice crossing the middle.

Let’s check out some of his highlights..

  • Can Kenny Phillips Play in the Box? Yes

Phillips shows good anticipation and play recognition skills when playing as the 8th defender in the box. He is inconsistent slipping blocks in the run game, sometimes gets a little lazy in run pursuit when plays go away from him. One of Phillips best attributes is covering RB’s, TE’s, and WR’s in zone or man coverage.

Here is Kenny Phillips zone coverage from the box. Giants secondary will drop and rotate into a cover 3 shell. He will defend the out route ran by Santana Moss.

Kenny Phillips as the flat defender vs the Washington Redskins


Post snap Kenny Phillips begins his coverage drop while keeping his eyes on the QB.


Kenny Phillips drops in coverage post snap vs the Washington Redskins


The QB is ready to throw the ball on the out route but Kenny Phillips coverage takes the route away.


Kenny Phillips undercutting a out route by Santana Moss


Kenny Phillips with perfect coverage on the out route from the box. Had the QB thrown this ball we would have reviewed an interception.


Santana Moss covered by Kenny Phillips


  • Can Kenny Phillips Cover Half the Field in a Cover 2 or 2 Deep Concept? Yes

Kenny Phillips is the NFL prototype for what teams look for in a cover 2 safety. He is athletic, disciplined, good vs the run, and trust his defense. He gets lazy at times coming up in run support when plays are going opposite field. When he is hesitant to the LOS or to pick a pursuit angle he gets caught up in the trash and can’t make a play.

Here is Kenny Phillips in cover 2 coverage vs a quick out and wheel route concept. The out route by Santana Moss is a bait route vs cover 2 coverage, If Phillips  comes down on the out route he leaves his cornerback vulnerable vs the wheel route ran by Anthony Armstrong.

Kenny Phillips Cover 2 vs Washington Redskins


Kenny Phillips stays disciplined by staying in his deep zone to protect his CB. The Redskins complete the put to Santana Moss but didn’t allow the big play to Anthony Armstrong. When the ball’s released Phillips is able to drive on the play and help bring down the WR.


Kenny Phillips in cover 2 vs the Washington Redskins



  • Can Kenny Phillips Play the Deep Middle in a Cover 1 or 3 ? Yes

Phillips is a smart and athletic defender that is able to play the deep middle. His play diagnosis and anticipation is not as good playing single high vs a half field read in cover 2. Phillips has good enough speed and range to be effective in this role. Comparing film from 2011 -2012 he doesn’t cover the ground  he use to , a step or two behind on sideline routes. Sometimes it’s bad technique or late play recognition/anticipation.

Kenny Phillips in cover 1 defense vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Vincent Jackson will run an interior post route with Phillips laying in wait.

Kenny Phillips vs Vincent Jackson


Vincent Jackson was open and tries to secure the catch with a charging Kenny Phillips.


Kenny Phillips  getting ready to hit Vincent Jackson


Phillips arrives in force, hitting Vincent Jackson and causing an incomplete pass.


Kenny Phillips blows up Vjax


I like what Phillips brings on plays in front of him when he is the single high safety in a cover 1.  Now for what I don’t like..

Here is Kenny Phillips as the single high safety later in the game vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kenny Phillps in cover 1


Post snap the defense has rotated from a cover 2 look to cover 1 with Kenny Phillips as the deep safety. Phillips eyes paid too much attention to the underneath route concepts to the high side of the field. The Red X marks where Phillips should be vs favoring the high side of the field.  A safety has to be as deep as the deepest and Mike Williams has broken past the deep coverage. Josh Freeman is releasing the ball and Phillips is out of position to make a play to support his cornerback.



Kenny Phillips caught looking at underneath routes


Phillips trailing late to the play. A deeper drop and a better angle would have put him in better position to help his corner. On this play the Giants were beat for a touchdown by the Buccaneers.


Mike Willams beats the Giants for  a TD


  • Is  Kenny Phillips Effective Blitzing? Yes

Phillips has a natural feel for attacking the QB.He anticipates snap counts, slips blockers, and comes with bad intentions.

Kenny Phillips is lined up in the box as the 8th defender. He will attack the outside edge on his way to the QB.


Kenny Phillips blitzing the Redskins


Kenny hides his intentions well and doesn’t alert the Redskins he will be coming off the edge. Disguise is just as important as speed, technique, and feel. Harder to pickup a blitzer you don’t see coming. He will get in the face of the QB as he hits his 3rd step. Phillips forces the QB to adjust and hurry the throw causing an incomplete pass.


Phillips vs Rex


Here is Kenny Phillips in man coverage vs Fred Davis.Davis will run a simple drag route with intentions of using his speed to run away from his defender.


Kenny Phillips vs Fred Davis


Phillips stays in the hip of Fred Davis coming across the field as the QB takes the sack.


Phillips vs Davis



Overall Kenny Phillips is a 4 tool safety that’s capable of playing as a top-level safety in the NFL. But the problem is health is a huge concern. In his first five years he has missed 24 games due to various knee injuries, 10 in the last 2 seasons. It is hard to invest a lot of money in a player that struggles to stay on the field.




Kenny Phillips is a hell of a player and he will improve some bodies secondary next season but he is not a fit for the Washington Redskins as now constructed. Kenny Phillips does some of his best work playing in the box, attacking down hill in the run game, dropping into pass coverage vs RB’s and TE’s, and blitzing the QB. Those responsibilities are same ones that the Redskins feel Brandon Meriweather excels at in their system, and he is under contract for 3 more seasons if the team picks up an option following 2013.  If healthy Meriweather is the Redskins starter at Strong Safety, you have to find a FS with that in mind.

Washington is predictable in how they use their safeties. The FS will always be in cover 1 & 3 deep middle or cover 2. The SS will always drop in the box in cover 1 & 3 , blitz, and play cover 2. Signing a versatile player like Phillips to keep him back in coverage all the time will be effective but he wouldn’t live up to the contract, and half of his skill set is being wasted. Yes, you could move Phillips around to use all of his abilities but then who plays the deep middle?

Meriweather is an aggressive attacking player that is at his best around the line of scrimmage.  The pairing  of the two players just doesn’t work and the Redskins would be spending money and not fixing the problem.

Kenny Phillips is the player he is for the Giants because they feature another versatile safety in Antrell Rolle. Both players do everything equally well and adjust based on the strength of the offensive formation. The Giants featured Phillips more in the box as a Strong Safety in 2011 and 2012 than a single high free safety. I love the player but don’t love the fit with the current pieces in place.

The Redskins should pass on Kenny Phillips.

Filed in: FILM ROOM

Bad knees. Just say no to Phillips and Rolle isn't what he once was.


  1. [...] Free Agent Safety: Kenny Phillips, Fit for the Redskins?Kenny Phillips is a hell of a player and he will improve a secondary next season but he is not a fit for the Washington Redskins as currently constructed. [...]

%d bloggers like this: