How Adam Gase viewed Matt Burke’s first game calling Miami Dolphins defense

Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke talks with linebacker Kiko Alonso during a game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins defense gave up 20 points and 279 yards to the Atlanta Falcons in last Thursday’s preseason opener.

No, it doesn’t really count, but it could have been a lot worse.

In fact, it was better than Miami’s statistical averages from 2016: 23.8 points allowed (18th in NFL) and 383 yards (29th).

There is a new defensive coordinator, of course, as Vance Joseph is off to Denver.

So how did Matt Burke do in his first shot at calling the defensive plays?

“I thought it was smooth,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Monday. “‘V.J.’ (Former Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph) kept (Burke) very involved last year.  I felt like he had kind of done it before. It just didn’t seem like a problem for him and his energy level, positivity, the way he can think and correct, I think it was good for our guys. It was the first time out with those guys. They’re all trying to get used to each other and it’ll happen fast.”

The Dolphins defense did not come up with an interception or force a fumble, which will be points of emphasis for this season. Miami needs more.

On the positive side, Miami allowed only one play of longer than 20 yards (a second-quarter run of 26 yards).

Linebacker Deon Lacey, defensive end Terrence Fede, linebacker Trevor Reilly, defensive end Cameron Malveaux and safety A.J. Hendy all had tackles for loss.

Coach Adam Gase used the words “tough” and “relentless” to describe the defensive identity he hopes for this season.

“The one thing that I would say that I want to see us do more is get our hands on balls and get balls out, get turnovers, turn into an opportunistic defense,” Gase said. “I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things. We’re playing tight coverage in practice. We’re making it really hard on the wide receivers. I do feel like that front can cause a lot of problems, and the linebackers, the way that they run right now and what I’m seeing between Kiko (Alonso) and (Lawrence) Timmons, if we give them some opportunities, they’ve got great ball skills. They’ve got great ball skills for linebackers and if we can get some more picks and fumbles, that’s really what I’d love to see us take off on.”

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