Who is the best edge rusher for the Miami Dolphins?

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 01: Emmanuel Ogbah #91 of the Miami Dolphins sacks Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams during the game at Hard Rock Stadium on November 01, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 01: Emmanuel Ogbah #91 of the Miami Dolphins sacks Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams during the game at Hard Rock Stadium on November 01, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The 2020 Miami Dolphins had to blitz to consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With this group of edge defenders, that could be a thing of the past.

In 2020, the Miami Dolphins blitzed on 40.8% of all drop backs-which ranked 2nd in the NFL behind only the Baltimore Ravens. Surprisingly, their pressure rate (the percentage of plays with a hurry, knockdown, or sack) only came in at 24.8%-good for 11th in the NFL. This high blitz rate also contributed to their 6.9 net yards/attempt surrendered on passing plays that was 7th highest in the NFL-tied with the Jets and Bengals.

So, what does all of this mean? It means that the 2020 Dolphins weren’t very efficient when it came to pressuring the quarterback and this aggressive style of defense led to more big plays for opposing offenses. The opposite side of that coin is that it generated a lot of turnovers. The Dolphins sported an NFL best 15.6% turnover rate, which is what fueled their 6th best scoring defense.

The problem with living and dying off turnovers is that they can dry up. Season to season turnover numbers can be very inconsistent and there is an aspect of luck involved. It’s good to be an aggressive defense and emphasize generating turnovers, but that can’t be your main strategy for stopping opposing offenses.

The Dolphins aren’t going to stop running an aggressive defense any time soon, but it could behoove them to slightly reduce that blitz rate and depend on more organic pass rush from 3 or 4 man rushes. Since Miami lacks any high level pass rushers on the interior, it will likely come from their edge group. luckily for Brian Flores, they have a trio of impressive edge players that have shown the ability to win 1 on 1 battles against some of the best offensive linemen in the game.

But who is the best of those three?

All advanced team statistics cited above are courtesy of Pro Football Reference. 

Emmanuel Ogbah

2020 Pass Rushing Stats

  • Total Snaps: 764
  • Pass Rushing Snaps: 491
  • Pass Rush Rate: 98.6%
  • Sacks: 9
  • Sack Rate: 1.8%
  • Pressures: 62
  • Pressure Rate: 13.2%

Courtesy of SIS Data Hub Pro

For a lot of people, deciding who is Miami’s best edge rusher is an issue of simple arithmetic. Ogbah led the Dolphins in every raw pass rushing statistic. His 9 sacks and 62 pressures both led the Miami Dolphins and clocked in at 13th and 4th in the NFL. There is certainly an argument to be made in favor of Ogbah, but there’s another stat he led the Miami Dolphins in-pass rush attempts.

In fact, he had over 140 more pass rushing attempts than the next closest player on the Miami Dolphins. That’s not meant to be an indictment on him-the coaches will give those snaps to the players they trust to take advantage of them. It does help explain how he amassed so many more pressures than anyone else on the Dolphins though.

If we look at Ogbah’s sack and pressure rate, they aren’t anything to write home about. Among players with a minimum of 28 pressures, he ranks outside the top twenty in pressure rate and outside the top 30 in sack rate. That alone doesn’t tell the whole story, but film helps to fill in the blanks.

Ogbah benefited greatly from the aggressive play calling and solid coverage on the back end in Miami. He wasn’t a player that came out and dominated tackles all afternoon. He flashed some really impressive reps on occasion, but we shouldn’t place him in the same category as TJ Watt or Chase Young. Ogbah is a really good-not elite-pass rusher at this point in his career.

Captured using NFL Game Pass. Uploaded for educational purposes, not my property.

Andrew Van Ginkel

2020 Pass Rushing Stats

  • Total Snaps: 455
  • Pass Rushing Snaps: 188
  • Pass Rush Rate: 71.5% 
  • Sacks: 5.5
  • Sack Rate: 2.9% 
  • Pressures: 28
  • Pressure Rate: 15.1%

Courtesy of SIS Data Hub Pro

Andrew Van Ginkel didn’t get a ton of pass rushing reps, but he was easily Miami’s most efficient rusher (and maybe defensive player) in 2020. Even when he was in on passing plays, Van Ginkel was dropped into coverage on 28.5% of those plays. Miami covets versatility, so there’s no reason to think that number changes significantly in 2021. What should change in 2021 is how many total snaps Van Ginkel has.

The year to year progression that we’ve seen from Van Ginkel is really pretty astonishing. He has the most varied pass rush approach on the team-utilizing a strong bull rush, spin more, and cross chop. A lot of fans also aren’t aware how athletically gifted Van Ginkel is, but he has elite agility and explosiveness. If his role in the defense is expanded we should see the number of pass rushing snaps grow with that.

The question will be, can he maintain his sack and pressure rate with an increased snap count? If he can, then we could very well see him take that next step into being one of the top edge rushers in the NFL.


Captured using NFL Game Pass. Uploaded for educational purposes, not my property.

Jaelan Phillips

2020 Pass Rushing Stats (CFB)

  • Total Snaps: 518
  • Pass Rushing Snaps: 266
  • Pass Rush Rate: 94%
  • Sacks: 8
  • Sack Rate: 3.0%
  • Pressures: 35
  • Pressure Rate: 14.2%

Courtesy of SIS Data Hub Pro

Phillips is the most unknown quantity of the group for 2021. With that said, he also has the most potential. Phillips has elite get off at the line of scrimmage and used his superior athleticism to make college tackles look silly in 2020. He still needs to refine some of his pass rushing moves, but there is a lot to like about Phillips’ game.

The concussion issues with Phillips have been covered ad nauseum, so I won’t re-hash any of that. If he can stay on the field, there’s no reason to think he can’t carry that success over to an NFL field. The question for 2021 will be how much of a role he plays in the defense from day-one.

Since Miami used such a high selection on him, one could assume that they have a sizable chunk of snaps set aside for him. Trading and releasing Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson also frees up a large number of edge reps for Phillips to take advantage of. There is absolutely a possibility that Phillips hits the ground running and takes the prospective crown from both Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel, but it would be surprising to see that in his rookie year.

Uploaded for educational purposes, not my property.


A lot of people will ask why Vince Biegel wasn’t included in this deep dive. Biegel is a really nice rotational player, but he is a limited pass rusher. That doesn’t mean he can’t take a step forward in 2021, but he isn’t in the same conversation as these three in terms of pass rush moves or efficiency.

There may not be a conclusive answer to which of the three is “best,” but the fact that it can be debated is a win for Dolphins’ fans. Ogbah has shown the most of the three, but he’s also the oldest and received a sizable chunk of the pass rushing reps off the edge last year. Andrew Van Ginkel flashed in 2020, we just need to see that efficiency remain with a higher snap count. Lastly, Jaelan Phillips has the potential to be Miami’s best edge rusher for years to come, he just needs to stay on the football field.

If this edge group takes a step forward, we could see a defense that doesn’t have to blitz so much but still manages to pressure opposing quarterbacks at a high rate. NFL offenses should be worried about that possibility.