Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphin Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel authors David Fourones and Omar Kelly answer readers’ questions.
Question: Do you think there is a chance they could hire a new coach to keep some of the defenders, given that defenders are our current strength? – Patrick Dillon on Twitter
A: This seems like a natural and preferred direction given that the Dolphins’ defenses are already in excellent condition.
However, often a new head coach is going to build his headquarters the way he imagines it, and finds himself in a new situation with assistants with whom he has worked or with whom he had a relationship.
It has already become apparent that Dolphins owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier want to focus on attack with this hiring. The first two known interview requests are being directed to the offensive coordinators who will coach Brian Daboll of Buffalo and Mike McDaniel of San Francisco this weekend.
In this case – and especially if a hypothetical new coach with an offensive background doesn’t have a lot of quality defenders ready to come with him – it makes sense to retain as much of this defensive staff as possible.
Led by Defense Coordinator Josh Boyer, the squad stood out at all levels, from major to minor, especially in the second half when Miami entered the top 10 defensive tiers. A seven-game winning streak, albeit mostly against weak quarterbacks, has really demonstrated how defenders fit perfectly into what Boyer wants to do. Wing backs can be trusted in single cover, freeing up extra defenders – even defenders, as we’ve often seen – for blitz.
Continuity would be great. Defensive coach Gerald Alexander quickly teamed up with rookie and sophomore safety Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones. Jaelan Phillips and Andrew Van Ginkel have both achieved success under the guidance of outside midfielder coach Rob Leonard. Anthony Campanil did an excellent job with the midfielder corps led by Jerome Baker. Austin Clark had a protective tackle. Christian Wilkins led all NFL line-backs in tackles and received exceptional play from Emmanuel Ogba and Zach Zeiler, with Raekwon Davis’ bow tackle playing the key to stopping the race. Wing-back coach Charles Burks received gifts of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but he also brought in Nick Needham to further his development.
Depending on who is next at the helm, this coach may hire someone he is strongly attached to for certain positions, perhaps leaving the best assistants where he does not have a slam dunk coach.
This is the perfect scenario. Now we also have to pay attention to another factor, which is that Brian Flores took several defense coaches with him at the next stop. Flores has already scheduled an interview with the Chicago Bears and is expected to be followed by others as he is in demand for another coaching position in the NFL after winning several seasons.
Boyer returns with Flores for many years to New England. He has been with the Patriots since 2006 and then followed Flores to Miami, first as defensive play coordinator and full-back coach in 2019, and then as defensive coordinator in 2020.
Alexander joined the Dolphins in 2020 and Flores gave him his first opportunity to become a coach in the NFL. Campanila has a similar story after working as a college coach. Clarke also dropped out of college in 2020. Leonard has been with Flores since Flores’s freshman year, transferring from the Giants. Burks was assistant coach for his first two years with the Dolphins before being promoted to coach for the full-backs.
Many of them could travel with Flores to his next destination, or the next coach could provide them with the option to stay in Miami. They will then have to determine what they prefer and where they think they can best build their careers.
If you flip the scenario where Flores, a coach with a defensive background, came to the Dolphins in 2019, he had hired hitters who previously worked with him in the form of original offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea and hard ends coach George Godsey.
The opposite could also happen if the offensive coach brings with him defensive assistants whom he trusts, but that coach would at least like to plan and train the defense, as was the case with Flores and Boyer, given the suitability of the staff.
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