Dolphins Vance Joseph has work to do

Image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins
Image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins /

The Miami Dolphins have more than one new coach and while Adam Gase gets a lot of attention, it’s Vance Joseph who will have a lot of work to do ahead of the 2016 season.

Joseph spent his time working in a 3-4 defense but in Miami he will use the 4-3. His decision in based on the personnel that he has to work with. Miami is a 4-3 team and changing that will force the Dolphins defense to rebuild. Something Joseph is not interested in doing.

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Speaking with the media over the weekend, Joseph outlined what his plan for the Dolphins defense is and it’s a refreshing change from what the Dolphins have been doing. The tough part will be implementing that thought process.

"“It looks like a defense that’s playing on their own terms,” Joseph said recently as he sat in the lobby of the team’s practice facility. “I don’t want to be a defense that’s reacting to the offense. I want to play on our terms. That, in my opinion, is the way players want to play. They don’t want to read and react. They want to attack."

The idea he has is a simple one. Make the defense dictate what the opposing offenses do. Over the past four years the Dolphins have been, more or less, a read and react defense. Some will argue that the style has been overblown as a problem. Players line up and defend what is in front of them by reacting to what the offenses run. Joseph wants to change that mentality.

Physicality is the name of Joseph’s game. He wants the defense to dictate to the offense. Make them change what they want to do based on what defense the Dolphins line up in. He wants to force offenses to adjust, to ‘read and react’ to the Dolphins defense.

In theory it should make Miami better. The Dolphins defense has solid pieces in place but are they good enough to take their game to the next level? Joseph thinks they are or that they can be. That is a lot to put on a defense that ranked 19th in points allowed.

For the Dolphins it will start up front. Miami has added some big defensive line help. Andre Branch, Cleyon Lainge, and Mario Williams are the teams newest defensive ends and the Dolphins are expected to sign Jason Jones this week. It’s returning players that will have as many questions.

Jordan Phillips’ rookie season wasn’t great. Some of that can be attributed to the start under Kevin Coyle. Earl Mitchell has not met the expectations either. Joseph believes that this years front will be a lot better and will get up-field.

For Joseph however his biggest problem remains at linebacker where the Dolphins did little to adjust the unit after a poor showing in 2015. Jelani Jenkins returns and the Dolphins believe that Neville Hewitt is on the right path with his development. Koa Misi however needs to continue his progress for this all to work. To say nothing of the interior where Miami is hoping Kiko Alonso will stay healthy and become the player he was in his first season with Buffalo and not his last two seasons which included a stop in Philadelphia.

Cornerback is another area of concern but the Dolphins have addressed the position so now they need to get it to work. Xavien Howard is the Dolphins rookie answer while Byron Maxwell is coming off a poor season with the Eagles after being very good in Seattle. There are concerns however and depth, as Joseph pointed out is one of them.

The Dolphins don’t have a lot of quality depth on defense and that is problematic. Instead of addressing that concern in the draft, they opted to go offense heavy in the mid-rounds. It’s likely that Miami isn’t done adding smaller pieces to Joseph’s defensive puzzle.

Miami fans are hoping that the defense becomes more physical and plays more aggressive and that is the task of Joseph who enters the season as a defensive coordinator for the first time. So while Gase is getting most of the attention, Joseph will quietly attempt to change a product that has come nowhere near the teams expectations.