A classic coaching technique is to build up one’s team when it is down, and humble it when it is flying high.
The Dolphins defense right now is flying high. The group ranks third in points (16.8 per game), fourth in rushing (80.4), sixth in yards per carry (3.5) and 11th in total yards (315.4).
The group has played so well, Inside The NFL’s Boomer Esiason went so far as to call it “a championship-caliber defense.”
So Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke, predictably, wanted absolutely nothing to do with that conversation when asked about it Thursday.
“I'm just trying to win a ball game, guys,” Burke said, a bit bemused. “Look, I don't hear that stuff, I really don't. God bless you. I'm sure you're really good at what you do, but I don't read [your] stuff. We don't think like that. It's one game a time.”
“[The Jets] beat us pretty good last game, so we're not looking past anybody,” Burke continued. “We're not thinking about defensive stats or championships or any of that crap. We're trying to win a ball game and we're going to do whatever it takes this week to do that. I don't think that's even crept to any of our guys' minds.”
Still, the fact that anyone would utter the words “championship” and “defense” in the same sentence when referring to the Dolphins is incredible. They allowed the most yards in franchise history last year, and could not stop anyone the last half of the season.
This year, the Dolphins have not allowed more than 20 points in any game.
And people have noticed, prompting one reporter to ask Burke if he worries that his players might become overconfident.
“I don't know who's talking about that,” Burke said. “No one's reading anything in our room. No, absolutely not. There's always stuff to get better at. We definitely have not played our best game, by far. By far. Which is good. We always say it's better to coach off a win, to coach the mistakes. We made plenty of mistakes last week. It was a great win and a great effort, but there's a lot of work to be done. I haven't seen one sniff of [overconfidence].”