Well, as expected the Denver Broncos have come to an agreement to make Vance Joseph their next head coach. Congrats to Vance, who cancelled meetings with other teams after meeting with Denver and clearly was the front-runner all along for Denver. Before going into how this will affect the Miami Dolphins, let me say that Joseph was a great defensive coordinator in Miami and I think he will do a decent job in Denver. With the ability to retain most of the already solid staff in Denver, Joseph can focus on finding the right person to helm his offense. Vance was questioned by many for being a candidate for this job because the Dolphins defense was so “statistically” poor. Clearly if you think that then you have never watched a Dolphins game prior to their wild card playoff game. Vance Joseph took over one of the worst defenses in the NFL. This defense just lost its best pass rusher in Olivier Vernon and they refused to find a replacement. Instead they just brought in Mario William who’s NFL career pretty much ended when he quit on Buffalo. The defense also lost probowl corner Brent Grimes and they replaced him with a 2nd round draft pick (Xavien Howard) a nice defender, but he missed half the season with injuries. Joseph lost both of his safeties to injuries in Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul Quddos. The linebacker corp was a mess with only one good starter in Kiko Alonso. The Dolphins had no thought of drafting or even signing a god damn linebacker, when they knew that they had none and teams would be able to run on them all day. So basically Joseph’s best players were Ndamukong Suh, a 34-year-old Cam Wake, and Kiko.
So yeah… It was a rough job to begin with. Even with all that said, Joseph just made something out of nothing. He turned Tony Lippet, a young corner who fans wanted out, into an average starting player. He made a defense, that was bottom 5 in the league previous years in causing turnovers, on of the best and the most opportune defenses in the league. Byron Maxwell was proclaimed a contract bust in Philly but Joseph had him playing like a true number one corner and the Phins missed him in the playoffs. Most importantly, he got this rag-tag bunch of players to buy into his 4-3 and wide 9 defense. For a rookie coordinator while having a rookie offensive mined coach, that is hard to do. Joseph was handed all the defensive tasks to handle on his own and he got the job done. While the offense took weeks to come together, the defense was always their giving this team opportunities to stay in the game. So don’t look at those misleading stats and analytics and think that he can’t do the job. Vance can make Denver’s defense even better and maybe bring them back to the playoffs with the right offensive guy.
Now on Miami side of things, they are going to need to replace Joseph with someone who can handle the defense by them self. So far early indication are that linebacker coach Matt Burke will take over (according to Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel). I don’t know what Burke is like as a coach and apparently neither does Kelly.
I haven't had one conversation with Matt Burke, and neither have any of my colleagues (many will lie to you). We don't know the man.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) January 11, 2017
Now I’m sure more will come out eventually and nothing is confirmed, this all just speculation. With that, Burke lead a linebacker group that was sub-par and outside of Kiko Alonso, no one played well. Jelani Jenkins was banged up all season but was unimpressive in the box. Koa Misi was an early IR guy and shouldn’t even be playing at the WLB. Backups Spencer Paysinger and Neville Hewitt were adequate fill ins, but neither is starting caliber linebacker. So Burke didn’t have much to work with, however, there could have been changes to the line backing package in where Jenkins was placed and the use of Mike Hull to make things easier to stop the run. Putting your best tacklers out their when you know it’s a run seems like a simple strategy, but this wasn’t evident in Burke or Josephs game plan as they never really made adjustments to the linebackers. All that said, who knows if Burke can be a good defensive coordinator or if he is the first choice.
Outside of that coaching change, Adam Gase has said he expects the remaining staff to stay intact. The Dolphins held a press conference today (January 11, 2017) to address the season and offseason goals. They have a lot to handle with the roster changes and signing key players back. Perhaps the biggest thing mentioned was signing Jarvis Landry to an extension as he enters his final year on his contract.
So quite a kickoff to the offseason, but it may get a little quiet as we wait for the playoffs to come to a close. Not to worry fellow Phins fans, we will have all the FA and draft speculation here, so make sure you follow me on twitter for more. Thanks for reading!