Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke is fed up talking, hearing and thinking about Reshad Jones.
Burke on Thursday seemed irritated when forced to answer questions about Jones’ decision to bench himself Sunday over the Dolphins’ decision to rotate their defensive backs against the Jets.
But Burke did confirm some important pieces of information during his weekly news conference. The most important?
“I think things were clear [with the players] in terms of what our approach was going to be on Sunday,” Burke said.
In other words: Jones was told that he would split reps at safety. And yet, after getting pulled for the first time Sunday, Jones, in a fit of anger and indignation, refused to come back in.
Later, it was chalked up to a miscommunication.
“Obviously, there was some sort of disconnect,” Burke said. “I can’t really get into the details or specifics of how that came about. I think any time anything happens, I think the important thing for us is move forward as a team. This is hard. We’re in the middle of a tough stretch of games we need to win. There’s been a lot of conversations at all levels the last four days, or whatever it’s been. I think the important thing for us, it’s been a very transparent process, I think, on all sides and where we’re at and we’re trying to move forward.
If this all seems exhausting, imagine if you’re Burke.
He works 100-hour weeks trying to get ready for an opponent, and Sunday’s challenge is as big as it gets: The Packers and their all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
But instead of spending every waking moment watching film and devising a game plan, he’s had to hold a series of meetings to deal with Miami’s disgruntled star.
And while Burke did not say it, it is conceivable that the team’s performance Sunday could suffer because of the lost man hours.
“I feel like it’s been addressed,” Burke said. “I’ve got a lot of stuff to get ready for on Sunday. I’ve wasted too much energy on a lot of stuff already, so my energy is going to be get ready for Green Bay.”
Thursday’s news conference came three days after Gase seemed to side with Jones, even though player committing one of the cardinal sins of professional sports: quitting on his teammates.
Gase said on Monday he needed to explore how Burke communicated with his players after Jones gave Gase his side the night before.
On Thursday, Gase shared his findings:
“I think they’re good,” Gase said. “Those guys, we got everything that we needed to get straightened out from all of us. ... Sometimes you have to through all of this kind of stuff during a season. That’s what happens. The only difference between what happens a lot of the time in the league – and sometimes it gets aired out publicly – that’s the hardest thing about the NFL sometimes. You have to bounce back. We’re all moving on. We got what we need fixed and we’re on to the next game.”
Now, Jones not only understands why the Dolphins rotated defensive backs Sunday, but would be OK if the same approach is used on Sunday in Green Bay, Burke said.
“After the Houston game, we weren’t playing at the level that we wanted to be playing at,” Burke explained. “Adam and I spent a lot of time together that weekend going through a lot of things.
“We’ve got a lot of good players back there,” he added. “We have a lot of good players we wanted to get onto the field at spots. We felt like it wasn’t working to stick with one thing and do whatever we were doing the two weeks prior. As an organization, as a coaching staff, we said, ‘Hey this is one thing that might help some things.’ That was part of that process we were going through.”