Dolphins Promote Burke To Defensive Coordinator

Posted Jan 12, 2017

Burke served as the team’s linebackers coach during the 2016 season.

The Dolphins’ new defensive coordinator is a world traveler with an Ivy League degree in psychology, so maybe he’s a little bit different in some ways.

But when it comes to football and X’s and O’s, Matt Burke shares the same philosophy as his predecessor.

“We want to be an attacking defense,” Burke said in a conference call Thursday after being hired to replace Vance Joseph. “It’s sort of what we started to try build here this past season, be aggressive. I know it’s been said before, we want to tailor our scheme to fit our players. Every year you have new players, new strengths, new weaknesses, so we’re going to evaluate that and move forward. But it’s always better when you can play on the front foot instead of the back foot, so that’s going to be our general philosophy.”

Burke just finished his first season as linebackers coach for the Dolphins after he came over from the Cincinnati Bengals. He spent two seasons with the Bengals, where coached with Joseph, who left the Dolphins on Wednesday to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Head Coach Adam Gase said choosing Burke to succeed Joseph was an easy call.

“He knows this defense inside and out, him being with VJ for the amount of time that they were together in Cincinnati and then him coming along to the Dolphins last season was really big for us in that aspect,” Gase said. “I really felt like we had two defensive coordinators on that side of the ball. We were very fortunate to be able to get him. He had plenty of opportunities to go other places and decided to come coach linebackers for us (and) was critical for our success this past season.

“For myself, this was an easy decision for our organization to make to elevate him to this position. The players respect him. They love the attitude and energy he brings every day. They respect his knowledge of the game. These guys know that they’ll be able to come into every game prepared and ready to roll to face whoever we’re playing that week. This is one of those moves where we’re able to keep the continuity of our system and our coaching staff together. We’ll be able to add a piece here and there, but for the most part our players won’t be walking into a brand new system. They’ll have an idea what we’re looking to do. We’ll really be growing from this point on.”

Under Burke’s guidance in 2016, linebacker Kiko Alonso finished ninth in the AFC with 115 tackles (69 solo) and made many big plays that helped the Dolphins late in games. Alonso intercepted a pass and returned it for a 60-yard touchdown with 1:01 remaining to defeat San Diego in Week 10. He also assisted on a stop of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the 2-yard line on the game’s final play to defeat San Francisco in Week 12.

Burke, who played safety at Dartmouth, began his NFL coaching with the Tennessee Titans from 2006-08 before working with the Detroit Lions from 2009-13.

This will be his first opportunity to be a coordinator.

“It’s obviously an exciting moment personally and hopefully for the organization to move forward,” Burke said. “It’s been a hectic few days, from Sunday forward. Everything has kind of happened pretty quickly. It’ll take a little time to sink in but I’m really excited to get going and help this team move forward.”

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