Here’s one of the many reasons Dolphins defenders love Vance Joseph.
Yes, he rips them privately. And sometimes rips them publicly, too.
But Joseph, Miami’s first-year defensive coordinator, is just as tough on himself -- if not tougher.
When asked by a reporter to label his defense Sunday -- think “big play” or “bend but don’t break” -- Joseph delivered a deadpanned one-liner (actually, one-worder).
“Inconsistent,” he said.
He has a point. The pass defense is one of the best in football. But the run defense? One of the worst.
Miami ranks 30th against the run this year, allowing 132.2 yards per game.
The Dolphins were particularly bad at it Sunday, allowing the 49ers to rush for 193 yards (on just 25 carries). That includes 113 by dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who torched the Dolphins with both scrambles and designed read-option keepers.
Here’s where Joseph pointed the finger of blame inward.
“I'll start with this: Our [pass-]rush plan was bad, and that's my fault,” he said. “Our rush plan didn't work. That being said, Kap played well, but when your rush plan isn't working, it trickles down to me as a play-caller. Now I'm not sure what to call. It becomes a guessing game.”
Joseph continued: “If I play max coverage and everyone's back's turned and he's up our back scrambling, it's tough. If you blitz the guy and everybody's back is turned, he's scrambling, it's tough. Once the rush plan failed, I was scrambling for calls to contain the quarterback and give us tight coverage.”
The good news for the Dolphins? Kapernick is a rare case. Few quarterbacks have his dynamic speed and few teams run the zone-read like San Francisco did. Joseph likened it to facing Navy in college.
But the Dolphins were also fooled by Kaepernick’s convincing ball-fakes; Joseph said his players “couldn’t find the football” early.
When asked what Joseph has learned in his first year in a coordinator, he was again unflinchingly transparent:
“You have to do what your players do best. It's never about you as a play caller or what you know. It's about what your players know and what they play well. Sometimes as a play-caller, you want to get more creative than you have to be. That's a lesson, as a coach we all should learn -- players first, scheme second. Other than that, every week it's different. You learn every week. You've got four, five calls a game, that you would take back, and that's just part of it. Last week, I had four calls I didn't like. It's over. We won the game, so you just learn from it.”