Ex-linebackers coach Matt Burke named Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator

Former linebackers coach Matt Burke was named the Miami Dolphins' new defensive coordinator today. (Photo courtesy of @MiamiDolphins on Twitter)
Former linebackers coach Matt Burke was named the Miami Dolphins’ new defensive coordinator today. (Photo courtesy of @MiamiDolphins on Twitter)

The man in charge of making sure the Dolphins’ opponents don’t go anywhere next season isn’t one to stay put.

Matt Burke was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator Thursday, the same day the Denver Broncos were introducing Burke’s predecessor, Vance Joseph, as their head coach.

It also marked the one-year anniversary of Burke being hired by the Dolphins.

[Click here to learn more about Burke.]

[Burke brings fire like ex-Lions coach Schwartz.]

Burke, 40, has never been a coordinator at any level but brings more than fire to the coaching staff. He’s one of the few (if any?) coaches in the NFL who can directly relate to players what it’s like to come face to face with a lion, scale Mount Kilimanjaro or teach youth in Uganda how to play that strange game Americans call football.

“I tend to take a pretty big trip outside the country every year and go hiking mountains or go backpacking around the world somewhere,” Burke said. “It’s kind of my reset before a season gets going.”

Burke brings more than an adventurous spirit to the defensive room. He was valedictorian of his high school class in Massachusetts, has a psychology degree from Dartmouth and a master’s in education from Boston College.

“I have somewhat of an academic background,” he said.

He had everything coach Adam Gase was looking for when he knew he had to replace Joseph. Gase described Burke as someone who “knows this defense inside and out.

“I really felt like we had two defensive coordinators on that side of the ball,” Gase said. “We were very fortunate to be able to get him. He had plenty of opportunities to go other places and decided to come coach linebackers for us and was critical for our success this past season.”

Both Gase and Burke stressed the advantage of continuity for the players after having to learn entirely new offensive and defensive systems when the staff arrived a year ago.

“They’ll have an idea what we’re looking to do,” Gase said.

Burke described his defensive philosophy in almost identical terms to Joseph’s.

“We want to be an attacking defense,” Burke said. “It’s sort of what we started to try to build here this past season. Be aggressive.”

But Burke said he wants the scheme to fit the players, not the other way around, so he’s unsure the best fit for linebacker Kiko Alonso — inside or out.

“Obviously we see him as an important piece of the future,” Burke said.

Alonso led the Dolphins with 115 tackles, but the defense, plagued by injuries, finished 29th in total yards allowed, 15th against the pass and 30th against the run.

“The way you keep points off the board are by getting stops,” Burke said. “So turnovers, third-down stops, red-zone stops” will be his priority.

Burke said he expects the Dolphins to hire a linebackers coach to take his place.

How was Matt Moore cleared so quickly? UM’s expert explains

[Will Laremy Tunsil be moved to left tackle in 2017?]

[Gase, Tannenbaum, Grier growing into formidable personnel team]

[Get to know Matt Burke, the man who could be Dolphins new DC]

Dolphins will keep 4-3 defense under new coordinator Vance Joseph

The Ndamukong-Suh led Dolphins defense will continue as a 4-3
The Ndamukong-Suh led Dolphins defense will continue as a 4-3

MOBILE, Ala — New Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will unveil his defensive plans when he meets with the media for the first time on Thursday.

But one thing is already clear: He will continue to run a 4-3 defense, according to a source.

It’s no surprise that the Dolphins want to stick to a 4-3 — it’s the defense best suited for Ndamukong Suh and it’s also what Joseph is familiar with from his time as defensive backs coach of the Bengals.

Regardless of the defensive alignment, the Dolphins need to revamp their defense this offseason.

They’re discussing the possibility of reworking Suh’s deal — he’d still receive the same amount of money but it would spread out the cap hit of next year’s deal over the life of the contact.

So instead of a $28 million cap hit in 2016, Suh would be a $10 million cap hit. His cap number would rise in following years, but it still wouldn’t top $28 million in a single season.

The Dolphins are at the Senior Bowl this week scouting talent with major needs in the secondary and at linebacker. They are also looking to add defensive line depth.

It’s still undetermined whether Miami will bring back cornerback Brent Grimes or defensive end Cam Wake at their current salary — they’re both more than a $9 million cap hit next year although neither is guaranteed.

Wake has said he is open to a possibly restructure. Grimes hasn’t publicly said if he would take less money to return.

Dolphins add former UCF interim coach Danny Barrett to staff

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Danny Barrett as UCF’s interim coach (Getty Images)

Danny Barrett, a Lake Worth High grad who was UCF’s interim coach four games this past season, has been hired by the Dolphins as running backs coach.

Danny Barrett in his CFL days
Danny Barrett in his CFL  days

Barrett, 54, graduated from Lake Worth in 1979 as a star quarterback, leading the Trojans to an undefeated season in 1978, according to the school’s web site.

He attended the University of Cincinnati and was an Honorable Mention Associated Press All-American in 1982.

He went on to have a distinguished career in the CFL, throwing for 23,419 yards and 133 touchdowns in his career. He also broke the record for most passing yards in a CFL game (601) which has since been surpassed.

Barrett has never been a head coach in the NFL.

He began his coaching career in 1997 as quarterbacks coach of the Calgary Stampeders and was head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 2000-2006.

He joined the NCAA in 2007 and spent three seasons as the University of Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach.

He was hired by UCF in 2011, spending three seasons as running backs coach and beginning the 2015 season as quarterbacks coach before being elevated to interim coach when George O’Leary retired in late October.

Barrett went 57–68 as a CFL coach and 0-4 as UCF’s interim coach.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase has now filled out much of his offensive staff, which includes offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree, receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, tight ends coach Shane Day, offensive line coach Chris Foerster, assistant offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and Barrett.

Dan Campbell on track to coach alongside Adam Gase’s father-in-law

Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt found qualities he liked in Adam Gase right from the start. It's why Vitt said Gase could marry his daughter. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt found qualities he liked in Adam Gase right from the start. It’s why Vitt said Gase could marry his daughter. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Now that Dan Campbell is leaving the Dolphins to become assistant head coach of the Saints, you might think that closes the book on any possible connections between Campbell and new coach Adam Gase.

Sort of, but not quite.

The Saints haven’t officially named Campbell assistant head coach, perhaps because they’re trying to sort out how that affects the current assistant head coach, Joe Vitt.

That would be Joe Vitt, father-in-law to — yes! — Adam Gase.

Adam Gase. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Adam Gase. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Nola.com speculated that the Saints could make Campbell assistant head coach of the offense and Vitt for the defense.

Since Gase already has hired a defensive coordinator (Vance Joseph) and a linebacker coach (Matt Burke), it wouldn’t seem likely that Vitt is Miami-bound.

To say Vitt and Gase hit it off the first time they met is an understatement. During Super Bowl week two years ago, Gase, then Broncos offensive coordinator, told the story of how Vitt gave Gase his blessing to marry his daughter, Jennifer.

Adam and Jennifer had met at a golf tournament in Ohio three months before Adam met Vitt at the 2008 Senior Bowl.

Gase was having dinner with Saints coach Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis, Buffalo assistant Matt Sheldon and Vitt when the first three coaches left.

“I’m kind of like, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” Gase recalled at that Super Bowl. “So he gives me permission to marry Jen.”

That’s impressive for any guy, but what makes this especially noteworthy: “I didn’t even ask him,” Gase said.

“So I’m leaving the Senior Bowl, and I call Jen and say, ‘Hey, your dad gave me permission to marry you,’ and she goes, ‘What … you asked him?’ I told her no. I don’t know if it was too many vinos or what.”

Small detail, but Gase finally got around to proposing to Jennifer three months later.

“I was like, ‘I don’t have a choice now,’ ” Gase said.

Today, Adam and Jennifer have three children: daughter McKenzie and sons A.J. and Wyatt.

Adam made sure to thank Jennifer during his introductory news conference in Davie on Saturday, although she wasn’t there to hear it — she had to step outside momentarily because their youngest son was fidgety.

Joe Philbin expected to be named Giants offensive coordinator

Joe Philbin is getting back in the game
Joe Philbin is getting back in the game

Joe Philbin had a rough finish to his time with the Dolphins.

But he’s landing in a high-profile spot.

Philbin is expected to be named offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, a source confirmed to the Palm Beach Post.

(Former Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell joins New Orleans staff)

Indianapolis reached out to Philbin about their offensive line coach opening but he ended up with a better offer.

Ben McAdoo, who is being promoted from Giants offensive coordinator to head coach today, will hire Philbin to run his offense — sort of.

McAdoo will likely call his own plays, so Philbin will find himself in a similar role that he held in Green Bay when he was offensive coordinator but did not call plays.

McAdoo was quarterbacks coach in Green Bay when Philbin was offensive coordinator.

Philbin has been praised over the years for his organizational skills which could benefit him with the Giants.

But it’ll be McAdoo’s offense, and one that quarterback Eli Manning excelled in this season.

Manning this year threw for 4,436 yards, 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a 93.6 passer rating.

Since leaving Miami, Philbin has been part of a NFL committee that is determining what constitutes a fair catch.

Philbin was fired this year after the Dolphins started 1-3. He was 24-28 in just over three seasons with Miami.

Colts reach out to former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin

Miami Dolphins vs Washington Redskins

The Colts have reached out to former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin about their offensive line coach vacancy, a source told the Palm Beach Post.

The Colts were also interested in Chris Forester, who was hired as the Dolphins new offensive line coach on Tuesday.

Philbin went 24-28 in just over three seasons as Dolphins coach.

He was fired this season after a 1-3 start.

He began his NFL coaching career with the Packers as an assistant offensive line coach.

He worked his way up in Green Bay to offensive line coach and then offensive coordinator.

The Dolphins offensive line was consistently one of the worst in the league in Philbin’s tenure although there was a lack of talent on the line — Philbin had limited personnel control with the Dolphins.

Since leaving Miami, Philbin has been part of a NFL committee to that is determining what constitutes a fair catch.

Former Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell, who replaced Philbin this season, was in New Orleans on Tuesday talking to the Saints about a position with their staff.

Adam Gase’s challenge: Win over locker room of Dan Campbell fans

Dan Campbell. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)
Dan Campbell. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Football players want to win games and will get behind any coach who can help them do that.

So it would be melodramatic to say Adam Gase will be fighting the ghost of Dan Campbell when he gathers his Miami Dolphins and begins training them for 2016.

But it’s not too dramatic to suggest that Gase will face a guarded squad those first few days, and that more than one player might be comparing how Gase goes about his business vs. how Campbell did his.

Adam Gase. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Adam Gase. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

(A quick aside: Andrew Abramson reported Tuesday that ex-interim coach Campbell will be moving on to some other team rather than stay with the Dolphins in another capacity. That’s not a surprise, but I predict with great confidence Campbell will be a successful head coach in the NFL and — in no reflection on Gase — Dolphins fans will someday wish Campbell wore aqua and orange.)

No doubt you’ll recall how, when owner Stephen Ross addressed the team following the victory over the Patriots that completed their season, players started chanting Campbell’s name in a clear message on whom their choice was for coach. Although Ross heard those voices and admits “I love Dan Campbell,” he hired Gase from the Bears.

Fans looking at the bottom line — and who isn’t? — see the Dolphins’ 6-10 record and Campbell’s 5-7 mark after replacing Joe Philbin and can’t relate.

“They don’t understand,” safety Michael Thomas said the day after the finale.

What don’t they understand?

“He gets it out of his players,” Thomas said. “Just to work hard, be intense, bring that intensity on game days, and it’s up to us to go out there and make the plays. That’s why it’s disappointing. We didn’t go out there and make the plays to help him out to get the job.”

Players sensed things were going south after they won their first two games under Campbell, then reverted back to Philbinesque levels. As things took a turn for the worse, center Mike Pouncey gathered the team and gave an impassioned speech, telling them they needed to get their fannies in gear if they wanted to save Campbell.

“Pouncey just said what we were all thinking,” safety Walt Aikens said. “The players love him. The other coaches love him.”

How much did they love him?

“I don’t think you could find one player who wouldn’t want him back on this team,” Thomas said.

Strong statement, Mike …

“It’s an accurate statement,” he said.

Someday, Gase may inspire those same sentiments. At least today, Campbell can walk out knowing he did.

Dan Campbell leaves Dolphins

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Interim coach Dan Campbell, who was passed up for the full-time job, is leaving the Dolphins, the Palm Beach Post has learned.

The Post first reported on Monday that Campbell wanted to move on and was expected to leave.

Now it’s a done deal.

It’s unclear where Campbell will head next, but he has options and plans to coach in the league next season.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Saturday that he loved Campbell and hoped he would remain in the organization, but that it was up to new coach Adam Gase.

Gase never had to make the decision. Campbell decided to leave on his own.

No assistant coach other than special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has been asked to remain with the team.

However, a couple of the Dolphins current assistants might be asked back depending on how the new staff shakes out.

The Dolphins are still focusing on landing Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph as their defensive coordinator.

San Francisco offensive line Chris Foerster is interviewing with the Dolphins for the same position, the Post has learned.

Foerster was the Dolphins offensive coordinator in 2004.

Fox Sports reported on Sunday that the Colts had offered Foerster their job as offensive line coach, so it appears he’s not sold on Indianapolis.

Tennessee receivers coach Shawn Jefferson is expected to become the Dolphins receivers coach.

Dan Campbell expected to leave Dolphins, Darren Rizzi will remain

Dolphins assistant coach Darren Rizzi and Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell question a call at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins assistant coach Darren Rizzi and Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell question a call at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi is the only assistant who has been asked to remain in the organization, several sources with knowledge of the situation tell the Palm Beach Post.

The biggest question mark was whether new coach Adam Gase would retain interim coach Dan Campbell.

However, sources say Campbell is making the easy decision easy for Gase.

Campbell wants to move on and will almost certainly leave although nothing is official yet.

(Dolphins had Jon Gruden on their initial coaching search list)

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said on Saturday that he would love to see Campbell stay in the organization but that it was up to Gase.

Campbell was previously the team’s tight ends coach.

Rizzi has now survived two coaching changes. He was initially hired under former coach Tony Sparano.

He was also the team’s assistant head coach under Campbell and it’s unclear if he will retain that title as well.

Gase will initially call his own play but the team needs a defensive coordinator.

The Dolphins are trying to land Cincinnati defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, according to sources.

Poll: Do you like the Dolphins’ decision to hire Adam Gase?

On Saturday, the Miami Dolphins announced the hiring of former Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase as head coach.

Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase is introduced at Dolphins training camp facility in Davie on Jan. 9, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Adam Gase (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

This will be the first NFL head coaching job for Gase, 37, becoming the youngest head coach in Dolphins history. Gase will have control over the team’s roster and will call the plays on offense.

Whether this means an improvement for Ryan Tannehill is a mystery at this point, but this much is certain: Getting the QB to play better is a top task.

But the most pertinent question: What do you think of the Adam Gase hire? Vote in our poll below!