With Vance Jospeh gone now, it’s time for Adam Gase to focus on hiring a strong defensive coordinator. It appears likely that Gase will give the job to current LB coach Matt Burke.
No one disputes that the Dolphins 2016 defense was inadequate. But there are debates as to who bears the most of the blame. And there’s a lot of blame to go around.
Aside from a few stars, almost every one of the starting 11 was an average player. We had no beasts. That blame falls on the front office. They’ve missed the boat in the recent past, and drafted predominantly offense. When they did reach out for a defensive stud, they failed to do their homework, choosing an utterly useless partyer like Dion Jordan. Let me tell you something once and for all: Dion Jordan did not start using ecstasy and weed and steroids and everything else AFTER he was drafted. This kid didn’t turn into a drugstore AFTER the draft. It was there all along, and the Dolphins missed it badly.
Our most glaring defensive hole–for years–has been at linebacker, and yet over the past few years, the Dolphins ignore LBs in the draft. In 2016: Zero LBs taken. 2015: 0. 2014: 1 (Jordan Tripp, a current Packer and former Seahawk. We draft him and Philbin cuts him so he can go on to star in Seattle and Green Bay). 2013: 1 again (Jelani Jenkins). 2012: 1 (Josh Kadu). 2011: 0. You get the idea. The Dolphins have a desperate need at LB, and they try to fill that need by drafting exactly 3 linebackers in the past 6 drafts. That’s why this year, I am seriously calling for the team to draft 5 or 6 LBs. Someone has to stick, right?
Okay, so moving on from the front office, let’s look at the way Vance Joseph utilized what he had.
First things first, for many of you citing the loss of Reshad Jones and Koa Misi as so crippling, I challenge you to tell me which games those two could have saved us in? We only lost 3 games while those guys were gone. We lost 4 games WITH them. Statistically, we were better off without them. I don’t think that’s true in the real world, but the numbers sure support it. So would Jones and Misi have held Pittsburgh in check last Sunday or the Pats the week before? Perhaps. But probably not. The way Icy Matt Moore and some others played, it would not have mattered. Bottom line: we need MAJOR improvements over Jones and Misi. We need guys who we can say “Yes, if we had him playing, we would have won for sure.”
And Jelani Jenkins? LOL. Somehow, we kept hearing his name throughout December, like some kind of savior. “if only Jelani could get healthy and come back…” He came back. Guess what?
Okay, so throughout December, Vance Joseph watch team after team run roughshod over the Dolphins. I’m sure he tried to do some different things, but nothing was noticeable. And certainly nothing worked. I was calling for some personnel changes. Like putting in Mike Hull or Trevor Reilly or Jordan Lucas in place of Paysinger and Bobby McCain. But for some reason, Vance Joseph stuck with the guys who kept failing him. Change for change’s sake isn’t necessarily a wide move. Even–dare I say it–Dion Jordan was an intriguing possibility at LB, but the Dolphins were stubborn. First, after Dion got healthy and we desperately needed LB help, they kept him inactive anyway. And second, even if they did activate him, the Dolphins said he would be a DE and only a DE. Makes no sense!
But when you’re giving up 30+ up points per game in the last 3 weeks, why not try it? You have nothing to lose. You insert a kid and just say, “Let’s see what ya got.” And you bench a guy who you’ve already seen what they got (and know they ain’t got much).
We barely touched Rapist Ben. We never touched Deflator Brady. Vance Jospeh had no answers, so I can only assume John Elway asked no questions when he agreed to hire Vance. The Broncos already have an incredible defense led by Wade Phillips. What can Vance Joseph possibly add to a a team that already has a championship-caliber defense and a championship coordinator already? You hire a defensive-minded head coach when your defense stinks, not when they win Super Bowls for you. It’s truly a baffling hire.
As noted earlier, the players themselves weren’t up to par at several positions. The defensive line had its moments, but they didn’t overwhelm anyone consistently. And when they did, the opponent made adjustments to stop us. We made some nice defensive stands when we needed to, such as in the 49ers game at the end. But then we blew it against Buffalo in the exact same situation. When we needed a stop with the lead at the end of regulation and the Bills faced a 4th down, the defense just wasn’t there.
The team needs a string defensive leader. A new Zach Thomas. A new Jason Taylor. Granted, you can’t just go out and find those types of players, but you have to try.
We have a juggernaut in our division called New England, and we have to stop them. In our two games with NE this year, we fell behind by a total of 44-0 before we scored. 24-0 in the first game behind their 2nd and 3rd string QB, and 20-0 in the second game. Missed tackles, mistakes, coaching, etc…. it’s all to blame, but the players themselves have to own up to it. Let’s hope that next year, they do.