Can Vance Joseph change Dolphins mindset?


When the Miami Dolphins made a change at head coach naturally a change at other coaching positions would be made as well. Vance Joseph was hired to run Adam Gase’s defense.

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There were other options available in the free agent defensive coordinator market. More experienced and more proven options. Yet Adam Gase, a first time head coach himself opted to go the route of hiring a first timer to run the defense.

Vance Joseph spent the last few seasons coaching corner backs in Cincinnati and now he is in charge of the entire defense. From the line to the safeties. Despite being more or less a 3-4 defensive coach, Joseph is keeping the 4-3 in Miami because as he puts it, that’s what the personnel dictates.

He is installing a “wide-9” scheme that will split his defensive ends out a little wider in the hopes of making bigger plays in the back-field and cutting down on double teams. While the wide-9 will surely help the ends, it will also expose the linebackers in stopping the run.

With all the talk of how bad the cornerback situation is Joseph told reporters today that he isn’t worried, at least not publicly. He believes that the Dolphins have the talent at the position but lack only the experience at the position.

If that is true, then the Dolphins should find huge gains over the weeks of pre-season football ahead of the regular season as the players get more acclimated. In truth, he is correct.

Of the ten players currently on the Dolphins roster at corner, only Byron Maxwell and Brandon Harris have more than five seasons in the NFL as they each enter their  6th seasons. Chimdi Chekwa is entering his 5th season while Rashaan Melvin enters his 3rd. Three corners are rookies and two players are entering their 2nd seasons in the league. And one of those is a converted WR.

The Dolphins are very young at the position but being young is not an excuse and it’s one that Joseph is not using as a crutch. He expects to have his players ready.

Admittedly, Joseph was never a first choice of mine for the position. In fact, he wasn’t a top five choice. Over the course of the 2016 off-season and through a full week of camp something has become extremely clear that could be the catalyst to eventually seeing this defense at the top of the league.

The players absolutely love playing for him.

This is something that can not be understated. Over the past four seasons fans have watched Miami’s defense sleep walk through the seasons under Kevin Coyle. Players did not like Coyle and many didn’t respect him. Vance Joseph doesn’t command or demand respect from his players but he gets it by being a good coach.

Joseph is able to set the bar high for his players because he firmly believes they can be better. Speaking to the Sun-Sentinel regarding Jordan Phillips, Joseph plainly said that he believes in Phillips and will continue to push him hard so that he reaches those expectations. It’s something that he does with all of his players. And players want to play for a coach they know supports them.

Whether the Dolphins defense works out this year or not is really not in question. The youth on the team and learning curve of a new system, the inexperience and the holes in depth at several positions does not bode well for the 2016 season. But could the right direction finally have some foundations set for the future?

While it’s obviously too early to know anything for certain, the 2016 season will give fans a glimpse of how Joseph attacks offenses. How he uses the best players in the right situations and then how well those players respond to him.

From what’s been seen so far, the respect of the players and the way they are practicing, hard and fast, it seems Miami may have the right man in the right position at the right time.