It may seem to a certain extent so far during free agency that the Vikings are set on fixing the defense. So far they’ve added some big names, and haven’t done much of anything for the offense. That is ok though due to the fact that the Vikings’ defense was atrocious last season. To put it into perspective the Vikings finished in the bottom quarter of the league in yards given up in nearly every category. Harrison Phillips is another name that the Vikings organization has added to help the defense. Phillips is a defensive tackle that just finished up three years in Buffalo, and now he is putting on purple.
The Pac-12 Years
Phillips attended Stanford University from 2014-to 2017. Although it is a private school, Stanford’s football team competes in the FBS Pac-12 Conference. For the first two years of his collegiate career, Phillips actually played defensive end. He didn’t play much those first two seasons, only five games to be exact. Part of it wasn’t his fault. Phillips only played in one game in 2015 after tearing his ACL. After being redshirted Phillips came back in 201 as a defensive tackle.
In his junior and senior years as a defensive tackle, Phillips played in 26 games. He had a good junior season, but it was his senior year that is what drew in the NFL scouts. In his senior year, Harrison led all FBS linemen in tackles with a total of 98. That stat earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl and being on the All Pac-12 First Team honor. Overall in his collegiate career, Phillips had 153 tackles, 16.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Phillips graduated with a double major in Sociology and Science, Technology and Society, and a minor in Education. He then decided he would enter the NFL draft in 2018 to try to make it in the big leagues.
Becoming A Buffalo Bill
As mentioned Phillips entered the draft in 2018 and was taken by the Buffalo Bills. The Bills drafted him in the 3rd round at pick 96. Phillips would sign his contract and go on to play four seasons with the Bills. He played in 19 games from 2018 to 2019 but never started. Phillips was also hit with another ACL injury that landed him on the injured reserve in 2019. It seemed as if the injury bug might be his biggest enemy. Phillips managed to come back in 2020, playing in 12 games and starting in three of them.
He was relatively quiet his first three years with Buffalo. Up until last season he didn’t have more than 20 tackles in a season and had only accumulated half a sack. 2021 would end up being his best year in blue. Phillips ended the 2021 season with 51 total tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery. In his entire tenure in Buffalo, he only started in 11 total games, so it is hard to judge what his production was like. However, his snap count did increase as the weeks went by in 2021. By the end of it, he had played in over 55% of defensive snaps for the Bills. That allowed him to have his best year.
Overall Harrison Phillips was a good player for the Bills but was never really given the opportunity to shine and show what he could really do. Blame it on injuries. Blame it on better talent ahead of him. Take your pick on what you’d like to blame it on. But it was time for him to move on.
Coming To The Midwest
The Minnesota Vikings signed Harrison Phillips on March 16th to a 3-year $19.5 million contract. “Horrible Harry” had found his new home. With a defense that struggled all season in 2021, the Vikings are trying to find a way to get out of that hole. Adding linebackers, defensive linemen, and corners is one way to do it. Having a new man in charge and a completely new regime may also do that trick. If the Vikings can use Phillips to his strengths and if he can mold well with the rest of the defense he can make a difference. The new 3-4 look is coming. It will be a change for the defensive players returning, but it might be the answer they’re looking for. If Phillips can go out and stick his nose in there to disrupt the offense it’s a win.
The Vikings need guys that are willing to put their bodies on the line and get after the quarterback. Adding Za’Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks was a nice start. Now Phillips is going to have to do his part alongside the rest of the lineman and make the quarterback flustered. Whether or not it happens may just dictate how good the Vikings’ defense ends up.