Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos: Old friends reunite, hoping to make each other miserable

Vance Joseph has lost seven straight. (AP)

DAVIE — One team has lost seven in a row. The other, five. To say Sunday’s game will be devoid of intrigue, though, would be to forget what makes Sunday’s Broncos-Dolphins game unique.

It’s not every day that two teams who aren’t even in the same division know each other this well.

It’s not every day that both head coaches used to wear the other guy’s colors.

So if you’re in Hard Rock Stadium for warmups, watch what’s happening on the field. Watch how one player after another will take a moment away from stretching and walk over toward midfield for a handshake, perhaps an embrace.

And then they’ll do their best to make the other guy miserable.

Take Darren Rizzi, the Dolphins’ associate head coach. He calls Broncos coach Vance Joseph — the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator last year — a very good friend. Even their families are close.

Vance Joseph in aqua and orange last season. (Miami Dolphins photo)

“I wish him the best of luck, except for one game a year,” Rizzi said.

Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh calls Joseph a “great dude.” This week, he reflected on the times he’d wander into Joseph’s office to talk football, family and chat about the many friends they have in common.

Once 1 p.m. Sunday rolls around?

“For me, I salivate at it,” Suh said. “I’m excited to go against his offense, his team and I think he has a good vibe of what I can do as a player, and I’m sure he’s eager to stop that and I’m eager to see what he throws at me and stop that.”

Gase said he hired Joseph knowing it would be a one-year deal. He knew that Joseph was in such demand around the league that in 2017, he was a cinch for a head-coaching job. Joseph hasn’t forgotten how Gase helped open doors for him.

“He’s high on my list of guys I talk to all the time about this job,” Joseph said. “Being with Adam last year was awesome. We had adversity and no one blinked. He kept pushing, the team kept pushing and the coaches (kept pushing), and we made it out of it. When you go through those things with a person, it makes you close because it was hard last year. We lost four-five in a row and ended up winning nine straight, so I get it.”

Joseph knows the Dolphins are just as desperate for a win as the Broncos. He believes it’s only a matter of time before Gase turns it around, just like last year.

“I know him,” Joseph said. “He’s tough, he’s smart and he’ll figure it out. Hopefully not Sunday, not this game.”

Smarts? Gase said he hired Joseph for that very reason. They’ve known each other nearly a decade, and not always while on the same side. That’s where the respect was built.

“I think it was just that I had a lot of trust in him,” Gase said. “I had gone against him multiple times and always felt like he was a problem. He always knew … I felt like he always knew what we were doing. He just did a great job preparing his guys and they were always tough games, no matter who we had on offense, it just always seemed like it was a challenge.”

There were times when Jay Cutler was throwing passes and Julius Thomas was catching passes in Broncos colors, not Dolphins colors. There was a time when Gase was coordinating Denver’s offense. There also was a period in which Denver running back C.J. Anderson had signed an offer sheet from the Dolphins and the Broncos had to match. Still, Anderson says, “Goose, that’s my dude.”

Back in Davie, Dolphins defensive players Andre Branch and Bobby McCain reflected on how much they enjoyed playing under Joseph and how they expected Joseph to get a promotion all along.

“He did a great job and he was rewarded with a head-coaching job and that’s how it’s supposed to be,” McCain said. “At the end of the day if you win, everybody wins. That’s how I see it. If you win, the cook wins, the cleaning lady, everybody wins.”

Branch: “It’s definitely going to be exciting to see him. It’s been awhile. He was the guy that brought me in here.

“But at the end of the day I’ve got one goal in mind: that’s to win the game. I wish him nothing but the best but we’ve got to win this one.”

About all that’s missing is for Richard Dawson or Steve Harvey saying, “Let’s play the Feud!”

“It’s always fun to see a lot of the guys you either worked with or coached,” Gase said. “After that, it’s pretty much nameless, faceless. You’ve got to focus on doing what you’ve got to do to win the game.”

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