Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph can’t be certain whether he will be with the Dolphins next season; after all, he reportedly has been asked to interview for five NFL head coaching jobs.
But if he is, he’s determined to fix the Dolphins’ most vexing problem: their inability to stop the run.
Asked Thursday the biggest culprit for the Dolphins’ run defense deficiencies, Joseph partly put the onus on himself.
“I think part of it is me,” he said. “I've got to go into spring and kind of reboot some things that we're doing. There were a couple of things that I didn't think were going to happen, as far as the scheme up front. So that's partly my issue that I've got to fix in the spring.
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“Again, numbers are sometimes misleading. Our yards per game wasn't very good but yards per play was OK. It was good enough to win 10 games so far. Numbers are misleading and again, we track four or five major stats. Rushing yards per game wasn't one of them. That being said, in the spring I've got to fix some things that will make us better in the run game. No excuses."
Joseph also attributed the poor run defense to “playing a lot of snaps early on in the season” and the defensive end play “was inconsistent early on.”
As for Joseph’s future, he said he hasn’t spoken to any teams, despite being linked to openings with Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, Buffalo and San Francisco.
League rules prohibit coaches of Wild Card playoff teams from interviewing for openings until next week.
“It's flattering when teams have interest in you,” Joseph said. “But for me, I've got one focus this week, and that's the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's my sole focus. My thought process has not gone there.”
Asked specifically about the Denver job, Joseph, 44, said: ““I interviewed there two years ago. That's all I can say about that. I can't talked to Denver, I haven't talked to Denver.”
Joseph said he “absolutely” would like to be a head coach someday, but he hasn’t “spent one moment on the future.”
MAXWELL IN QUESTION
Gase said cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle) did not practice and “we’re running out of time…. It’s been a while since he’s practiced.”
Joseph said: “He wants to be out there. He’s trying to play this week.”
Safety Bacarri Rambo (chest soreness) returned to practice and said he will play Sunday. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee) also practiced. Coach Adam Gase said both “looked good.”
Joseph said Jenkins “did a fine job” covering Pittsburgh running back Le”Veon Bell out of the backfield in their Oct. 16 game, though Bell had six catches for 55 yards.
• Joseph, who has been candidly with reporters all season, assessed defensive tackle Jordan Phillips thusly:
“Jordan is a player that, if you can take his explosive or flash plays, you can make a tape and it's special,” Joseph said. “But you can take his bad plays also and make a lowlight tape. So he's a young player that's inconsistent. He's obviously a big man with talent. If he's on and doing it right, he can be a special help to us this weekend; but he's got to put the bad plays to rest.”
• Joseph said the Dolphins are considering using defensive end Mario Williams on Sunday after he was inactive against the Patriots.
“Mario has never been in a playoff game; I was in Houston with Mario and he was hurt for that game, but obviously he's like Cam,” Joseph said. “You get one shot at this thing. It may not happen again. So Mario has to, if he's up, play well and play hard for us and he wants to."
• Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Kraig Urbik, who has started at center the past three games, has “been solid. Would love to have [injured Pro Bowl center Mike] Pouncey. There’s a uniqueness to how fast Pouncey can run. Urbik can try but he’s never going to run as fast as Pouncey. Nor can I. You miss his speed on some of those plays.”
Miami Herald sports writer Adam Beasley contributed to this report.
For my in-depth look at the Dolphins’ rookie class, please click here.