Adrian Phillips’ first season in New England was even more impressive than we thought


In what was a poor 2020 season for the Patriots, there were a few bright spots, including newcomer Adrian Phillips.

The safety, who played more of a hybrid linebacker role, finished with a team-high 76 tackles and seven for loss after signing with a team as a free agent during the offseason.

Based on the numbers, it appeared like it was a seamless transition, but speaking on The Jim Rome Show Wednesday, Phillips acknowledged how tough it was adjusting to the Patriots’ defensive scheme.

“It was tough, especially when you have a guy like Coach [Bill] Belichick and have all these people around him who have been around that system for so long,” he said. “You get used to the type of verbiage, the type of way that certain defenses play because I [had] been in that system for six years with the Chargers, or whatever that may be. And I go to the Patriots and it’s something totally different. You have your canvas, here’s your canvas, you can paint whatever you want on it, like we’re going to give you the right tools to put you in the right position, but you basically have the freedom to do whatever you want.

“The scheme is always changing and you have to be a smart player to be in that defense. I know you have to be smart to play in any defense, but that defense specifically — if you aren’t studying, if you aren’t taking it serious, then you won’t succeed. It was a new challenge for me because I pride myself on being a smart guy when it comes to Xs and Os and that was a huge challenge for me. It gave me another level of understanding and another level of love for the schematics behind stuff.”

As for the Patriot Way, Phillips simplified how he views it now that he's part of it.

“The Patriot Way is basically just doing your job,” he said. “Just do your job. If everybody does what they are supposed to and hold themselves to a high standard then more times than not things are going to come out the way they are supposed to go.”

With a whole year and offseason under his belt, Phillips should feel much more comfortable in his second season with the team.

Training camp begins July 28.

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