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Adam Gase and Matt Burke – January 12, 2017 Download PDF version

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase and Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke

Head Coach Adam Gase:

(Opening Statement) – “Obviously we’ve promoted Matt Burke from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. The decision behind this  was Matt knows this defense inside and out. Him being with ‘V.J.’ (Vance Joseph) for the amount of time that they were together in Cincinnati and then him coming along with the Dolphins last season was really big for us in the aspect that I really felt like we had two defensive coordinators on that side of the ball. We were very fortunate to be able get him. He had plenty of opportunities to go other places and decided to coach linebackers for us when it was critical for our success this past season and for myself, so it was an easy decision for our organization and me to elevate him to this position. The players respect him and mentally they love the attitude and energy he brings every day. They respect his knowledge of the game. These guys know that they’ll be able to come in every game prepared and ready to roll to face whoever we’re playing that week. This is one of those moves where we’re able to keep the continuity of our system and our coaching staff together and we’ll be able to add a piece here and there, but for the most part, our players won’t be walking into a brand new system. They’ll have an idea of what we’re looking to do and we’ll really be growing from this point on.”

Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke:

(Your reaction being the new defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins?) – “It’s obviously an exciting moment personally and hopefully for our organization to move forward. It has been a hectic few weeks, or a few days, from Sunday forward. Everything has kind of happened pretty quickly. It’s taking a little time to sink in, but I’m really excited to get going and help this team move forward.”

(How would you describe your general defense philosophy?) – “Probably parts from everybody. We want to be an attacking defense, sort of what we started to try to build here this past season. (We want to) be aggressive. I know it’s been said before, we want to tailor our schemes to fit our players. Every year you have new players, new strengths, new weaknesses, so we’re going to evaluate that and move forward. It’s always better when you can play on the front foot instead of the back foot, so that’s going to be our general philosophy.”

(How would you assess the way the defense performed this past season?) – “Again, we really judge ourselves by wins and losses. We felt we made some strides there. I think whether there was a new coordinator change or not, you always take the offseason to try to evaluate what you did good and what you did bad, and we haven’t hardly started that process yet. I think there are going to be some things that we really like and some things we didn’t, and that’s going to be part of growing. I think we did a good job of instituting our structure and having a nice foundation to build from, moving forward. I was kind of happy with that. I think the guys bought into the things we were trying to do and I’m excited to have that foundation to build upon moving forward.”

(What happens with the linebackers now? Will you also coach them or will you have a linebackers coach?) – “I don’t think that I’ll be coaching the linebackers. It’s kind of early. Obviously, this happened pretty quickly, like I said. (We’ll probably need to) add a spot on the defensive staff. That’s something I’m going to have to get together with (Head Coach) Adam (Gase about) in the next few days here and really hammer out how we’re going to move forward with that. I don’t see myself filling both roles, so I would assume we’re going to find someone to put in that room, but we haven’t even started those discussions yet.”

(You touched on this briefly, but can you elaborate a little more on the advantages of having a defense going into a second year in terms of scheme and terminology?) – “Obviously, (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) mentioned to continuity and that’s something everyone strives for. Even the language and being able to talk the same way and understanding the way we approach things this year, the players coming back will have a lot of familiarity with that. Like I said, there is obviously going to be new players and a little bit of a new face or two on the coaching staff, so there are going to be some new pieces there, but it always helps not having to re-learn. Defense is defense, and that’s fine; but again, just being able to speak the same language and understanding how we install and all of that, the players will be walking back with a pretty good base of knowledge and way to communicate with us and each other and stuff like that. It’s always an advantage, I think.”

(You kind of have an interesting background. You’re a psychology major from Dartmouth, is that right?) – “I did graduate from Dartmouth, yes.”

(You’re kind of an adventurous sports guy too, right? An outdoorsman?) – “I guess you could say that, yes.”

(Tell us a little bit about yourself personally.) – “My adventure stuff, I’ve really taken to traveling a lot in the offseason when we have our downtime. You guys know as well as anybody, it’s a high-performance, high-stress business and it’s kind of my way to get away from things. I tend to take a pretty big trip outside the country every year and go hiking mountains or backpacking around the world somewhere. That’s kind of my reset before the season gets going to center me back and ready myself for the long haul. I haven’t planned anything yet this year, but I’ll let you guys know when I do.”

(What was your trip last year?) – “Actually the last two years I’ve been to Africa. Last year I did some more safari-type stuff up in Botswana and Zambia (and) South Africa. The year before that, I had actually gone to Uganda for a little bit and did some charity work with (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Jeremiah Washburn, and then I went and climbed (Mount) Kilimanjaro. I’ve been to Africa for two years in a row, so I’m not sure. Maybe a third time or I’ll figure out another part of the world.”

(Who has been the biggest influence in your coaching career?) – “Honestly, it’s always hard … You reach these milestones, and it’s always hard to thank (everybody) because you don’t want to forget anybody and miss people, but I’d be remised if I didn’t mention Jim Schwartz. He gave me my first job in the league down in Tennessee as a quality control (coach) when he was the coordinator. And then when he got the head job in Detroit, he gave my first position coaching job. I spent 10 years with Jim and I think the world of him and, really, I owe him a debt of gratitude. I wouldn’t be here on this phone call with you guys if he didn’t give me my first break and first probably about 10 breaks to be honest with you. I learned a lot from Jim and he has been a guy I’ve leaned on for a long time and learned a lot of defense from. He’s probably first and foremost in my mind, but it’s really hard. Vance (Joseph) and I spent a lot of time together the last few years, but it’s hard to start naming a lot of names. I don’t want to leave anybody out. If I get a list together sometime, I’ll figure it out. But obviously those two guys – Jim giving me my start and Vance really helped me develop the last few years.”

(If I can follow-up, Jim Schwartz is a guy known for his fiery personality on the sideline. Does that describe you?) – “Probably. I’d like to think that I bring a certain level of energy and fire to the team. We say a lot of what we want and obviously I have somewhat of an academic background. I take an analytical approach to things, but this game is about emotions as much as anything. I don’t know if I’m going to do any patented fist pumps, but I’ll probably curse a little bit more than ‘V.J.’ (Vance Joseph) did on the sideline. I hope the guys are ready for that.”

(I know it’s early, but what is your inclination as far as the best use for LB Kiko Alonso? Inside, outside?) – “Honestly, not to deflect a lot of things, but it’s kind of early in that process, like I said. There are going to be a lot of changes obviously on the roster; it happens every year. What (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) said in bringing us here was and has always been is, ‘Look, when we get our roster set, we’re going to put our players in the best position to be successful for them.’ Obviously, (Alonso) had a successful season. We’re excited that he’s a part of the organization now. That’s a part of … Really these next few months are a two-fold evaluation of our roster, and trying to make that better, and then our scheme fit, and trying to make that better. It kind of goes hand and hand. We’ll see what other type of players we bring in through free agency and the draft and where Kiko fits in. Obviously we see him as an important piece of the future. I had a great time working with him and helping him get to that point; but, we really haven’t even started to evaluate position moves, fits, schemes, all of that stuff. That’s going to be an ongoing process.”

(Other than wins and losses, what do you consider the best barometer for a defense? Is it points allowed, yards per game, the bend but don’t break philosophy? How do you size up when a defense is being as successful as you’d like?) – “Obviously points. That’s what matters, if you keep points down. For us, I’ve always been taught this: the way you keep points off the board is by getting stops. So turnovers, third down stops, red zone stops, that’s how you keep points off the board. Yards have been a measuring stick obviously for a while in the league; but I think that can kind of be misleading. You need to keep points off the board, and obviously (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) on offense, he wants to score as many points as he can. That’s really what matters, and for us, it’s keeping scoring down. I think there are corollary statistics like third down stops and turnovers and red zone stops that obviously contribute more directly to keeping points down. Those are the things that we are going to try to hang our hat on. Like you said, low points equals big wins, so that’s where our focus is going to be.”