Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins have defensive coordinator favorite in place if Vance Joseph bolts

While the Miami Dolphins wait to see whether defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is hired by one of the five teams interested in interviewing him for a head coaching job, the team’s next defensive coordinator has all but been identified.

Joseph is reportedly scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos Tuesday and ESPN reported the San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to interview the coach on Thursday. The Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers also have permission to interview Joseph.

If Joseph is hired by another team, the coach the Dolphins are likely to promote as the next defensive coordinator is linebacker coach Matt Burke, according to sources.

Although Burke has gotten no promises and Dolphins head coach Adam Gase may decide to explore a number of available candidates, sources say the job is Burke’s to lose.

Burke, familiar with the roster and defensive system the Dolphins employed in 2016, would bring continuity to the defense

And all this is interesting because Joseph is drawing interest from other teams despite the fact the Dolphins defense this year was not good -- even by his own admission.

And Burke is in line for a promotion even though the Dolphins linebackers were a weak link in the defense in 2016.

The Dolphins finished the season the NFL’s 18-ranked defense in points allowed. The Dolphins allowed 30 points or more in four of their final six games. In the 30-12 playoff loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had more rushing yards than anyone during Wild Card weekend and receiver Antonio Brown had the second-most receiving yards of anyone.

Yes, the Dolphins had injuries on offense and defense. Starting safeties Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus and linebacker Koa Misi missed the playoffs and were out much of the season.

But the Miami defense was not good early in the year, either. The Dolphins gave up 24 points or more in four of the seven games they played before their bye and gave up 30 points or more in two of those games. And Jones, Abdul-Quddus and the linebacker corps was mostly healthy during that time.

About the linebacker corps: Burke is the linebacker coach and linebackers was one of Miami’s biggest problems in 2016.

Every starting linebacker not named Kiko Alonso fell short of expectations for the season and their backups were not able to overcome their status on the roster to fill in without issue. Dolphins linebackers had trouble tackling and covering. Even Alonso’s play dropped off after he suffered a broken thumb late in the season.

In that regard, both Joseph and Burke are vying for possible promotions even though the units for which they were responsible in 2016 were not elite by any measure.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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