Two ex-Charger Patriots played against their former squad Sunday. Tight end Hunter Henry, and safety Adrian Phillips.
One would say Phillips had the much livelier day, as Henry had one catch for 33 yards while Phillips had two interceptions, one being a pick-six that propelled New England to a Week 8 Halloween victory over Los Angeles.
“I love it out here. Every time we get to play ’em, everybody always wants to stick it to their former team,” Phillips said. “This is a great organization that we played against today, and just to be able to go out there and play against them, and ending up having the game that I had, it was sweet. I loved it.”
Phillips is likely one of the more underrated players on New England. The 29-year-old led the team in tackles last season, while this year, he’s posted a 77.6 PFF grade, the best overall grade on New England’s defense.
“I can’t give away too much, but you watch film the whole week and hope that you get the opportunity to execute the way that you wanna execute,” said Phillips. “So, we got the call. I saw the formation, and I had a few options that I could make, and I just so happened to make the right option and we ended up getting pressure on Herbert which was our big focus all day — to just get pressure in his face. We made him make a quick decision, (Jared) Cook wasn’t ready for it, and I was able to take advantage of it and go to the end-zone.”
Phillips’ grade of 77.6 also ranks seventh among safeties in the NFL this season, as he posted a team-best 90.7 grade in Week 8’s win.
The former Charger also already has more interceptions than he had last year, with three, as he salvaged a pair of picks last year.
“It was great seeing my boys — of course, the DBs, and then the training staff, and my guy Arthur, the player personnel guy who I pretty much grew up with,” Phillips remarked. “It was great to see all those boys and to be able to talk about the old times and then being genuinely happy for me. It sucks that, they lost the game, but it shows how genuine it was because they were happy for me and happy that I was able to come somewhere else and still produce.”
Phillips went undrafted out of Texas in 2014 and was signed by Los Angeles (who were San Diego at the time). The defensive back spent the next three seasons bouncing up and down between the practice squad and active roster, before finding a place on the active roster.
He then signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Patriots last offseason.
“He does a good job of seeing the routes, seeing the quarterback, having vision on the ball,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “Just good awareness. He’s a good football player. He did that when we opened last year against Miami, the first game in the 2020 season where he made the play on the slant route. He makes those plays in practice, too. He knows football and has good hands.”
(Photo of Adrian Phillips/John McCoy/AP Photo)