LAKE BUENA VISTA—Matt Burke might not be as wild as his beard suggests.
Burke became the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator two weeks ago when the Broncos hired Vance Joseph as their head coach, and the new job is a culmination of 15 years as a college and pro assistant. His path took him through Tennessee, Detroit and Cincinnati before arriving in Miami, and some of his former players are here for the Pro Bowl.
Burke’s most recent position before coming to the Dolphins was linebackers coach for the Bengals. While Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap weren’t part of his unit, they got a good enough look at what type of coach he was in 2014 and ’15.
“He has a great personality,” Atkins said. “To me he was real calm. A players’ coach. He listens to the guys. But he was able to get the most out of his linebackers.”
Dunlap echoed that players’ coach opinion and believes Burke will endear himself to the Dolphins quickly, if he hasn’t already.
“Guys are gonna love to play for him,” he said. “He can relate very well to players. Whatever you need, he’ll meet you there.”
Burke was well known throughout the Bengals’ locker room, even to the offensive players. Quarterback Andy Dalton said they talked often, and Burke was always by him in pre-game warmups.
“I loved having him around,” Dalton said. “He was a great personality. I was sad when he left just because he was such a great coach and a fun guy… He’s intense when he needs to be. If you do a good job, he treats you like a pro, but when he needs to get on you a little bit, he will.”
Burke coached with Joseph in Cincinnati under defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and the Dolphins don’t expect much to change schematically going from Joseph to Burke.
Most of the current Miami players are very familiar with Burke even if he wasn’t their position coach, and defensive end Cameron Wake is optimistic about the defense getting better next season. It needs to, especially after setting a franchise record for most yards allowed at 6,122.
“I think they probably share similar traits as far as how they look at the game and how they call the game,” Wake said of Burke and Joseph. “I’m sure he has a few wrinkles that he will introduce from his own play book, but it won’t be a drastic overhaul as far as terminology and concepts or things like that because they were coaching the same system.
“I would assume a lot of the same and hopefully a few things we have to work on to make this year even better. So I’m looking forward to improvements in all facets of the game.”
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