It also wasn’t long before Lewis realized Joseph had all the qualities necessary to become a defensive coordinator, which is just what happened this offseason when new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase hired him in that capacity.
“(It was) when you sit in staff meetings and so forth in game plan meetings and his ability to interject and have an opinion on things — a well thought out and researched opinion,” Lewis said Friday morning. “I think he's got a great wealth of football knowledge and I think he's got a great ability to communicate with the players and get it done and communicate it to them.”
Joseph has been a hot commodity in coaching circles for a while now.
He has spent the past 11 years of coaching defensive backs at the NFL level, including the last two with the Bengals.
During his time in Cincinnati, the Bengals led the league with 41 interceptions and limited opposing passers to the lowest passer rating (77.4) in the NFL during those two seasons. The Bengals also were the only team to have more interceptions (41) than passing touchdowns allowed (36) in that span.
Lewis’ Bengals will face the Dolphins in the 2016 season, and he has an idea what kind of defense his offense will be going against.
“I would expect them to be aggressive and play sound eight-man football, put the pressure on the outside guys,” Lewis said. “They've got some good guys up front and he'll utilize them well.”
The Dolphins weren’t the first team that wanted Joseph as their defensive coordinator. After Gary Kubiak took over as Denver Broncos head coach last offseason, he wanted to hire Joseph in that capacity based on the work Joseph had done for him with the Houston Texans.
In talking about the decision to keep Joseph from leaving, Lewis told ESPN in January 2015 that Bengals owner Mike Brown viewed Joseph as “a star” and even joked that Joseph would one day have his job.
“It's part of coaching,” Lewis said. “Everybody wants the security of a contract and sometimes it's hard to have it both ways. But Vance was very professional throughout the process and understood and he got an opportunity. I was confident he'd have the opportunity (at some point), but you don't know. And obviously he did. With success from people comes opportunity.”
Lewis said Friday he definitely sees Joseph as a future NFL head coach.
“I think there's no question in my mind that he has the ability to lead the room and lead men and get them pointed in the right direction and take those steps to be a head coach,” Lewis said.
Joseph joined the Bengals after spending three seasons with the Texans, where one of his defensive backs was 2006 Bengals first-round pick Johnathan Joseph.
Johnathan — no relation to Vance — was among those who gave Lewis a glowing recommendation on the man who would become Dolphins defensive coordinator.
“Jonathan spoke so highly of him,” Lewis said. “I knew about Vance, people had told me about him, but Johnathan the confirmation for him as a coach and talking with (Houston GM) Rick Smith and so forth and everybody that had ever worked with Vance, Mike Nolan and so forth, they just spoke so highly of him and his abilities.”
Vance Joseph lived up to expectations after joining the Bengals coaching staff, just like he had at every coaching stop before that. The Dolphins now are hoping that trend will continue.
SHOWING THEIR STUFF
The combine officially began Tuesday, but the first day of on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium was Friday.
Group 1 of prospects — kickers, special-teamers, offensive linemen and running backs — arrived Tuesday and spent their first three days with the following items on their agenda: registration; hospital pre-exam and X-rays; orientation; team interviews; measurements; medical examinations; media sessions; more team interviews; NFLPA meeting; psychological testing; bench press; more team interviews.
Among running backs, Keith Marshall posted the best time in the 40-yard dash Friday with a 4.31, following by a 4.41 for Tyler Ervin of San Jose State. In all, 10 running backs came in under 4.5 seconds.
Among offensive linemen, the top performer in the bench press Thursday was Arizona State guard Christian Westerman with 33 repetitions, followed by 32 by Missouri guard Connor McGovern.
Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson, who is bald and looks a lot older than 20, on whether he grew his beard for intimidation:
“It wasn’t really an intimidation thing. I got into college and I was going bald. So it was time to shave. Growing a beard … I don’t really smile too often, so people were like, ‘That dude looks old! He looks like he’s about 40 years old!’ I like it. So it’s cool, looking old.”