5 things to know: Miami Dolphins head coach candidate Vance Joseph

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Vance Joseph, who has spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, is among the candidates for the Dolphins’ head-coaching job.

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Joseph, 49, is a former defensive coordinator of the Dolphins.

A closer look at Vance Joseph:

Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has several connections to the Dolphins.
Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has several connections to the Dolphins.

Tracing his roots

Joseph, originally from Louisiana, was a backup quarterback at Colorado, finishing his collegiate career 34 of 61 for 454 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 237 yards and one TD.

Undrafted as a cornerback, Joseph signed with the Jets and appeared in 13 games in 1995, starting six, before playing four games with the Colts in '96.

Joseph's defenses in Arizona have ranked 32nd, 13th and 11th in yards and 28th, 12th and 11th in points.

When he was named Denver’s head coach in 2018, Joseph became the first permanent Black head coach in the organization’s history. Their only other Black head coach was on an interim basis in 2010. That man was Eric Studesville — the Dolphins’ co-offensive coordinator last season.

Several Dolphins connections

Wherever you look, there are other ties between Joseph and coaches Dolphins fans know well.

As the 2018 season concluded, Joseph was let go by the Broncos with two years and about $6 million left on his contract. He was 11-21 at Denver’s head coach.

Right away, the Broncos set out to interview ex-Titans coach Mike Munchak, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (whom they eventually hired) … and Brian Flores, Bill Belichick’s top defensive assistant with the Patriots.

At the time, word was out that the Broncos were not pursuing ex-Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who’d been fired by the Dolphins. But four years earlier, Joseph was a candidate to be Broncos head coach. The other contenders were Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator of the Ravens, who landed the Denver job … and Gase.

On thin ice almost from the start

The Broncos were coming off a 9-7 season when they hired Joseph, who said a “reboot,” not a rebuild, was all that was needed.

"It's a football team that's not broken,” Joseph said at the time. “It's a great job. Most first time head coaches, the jobs they receive are mostly broken. This job is not broken."

After a 5-11 first season, John Elway admitted he considered a change.

"We thought about different options, but ultimately, my goal was to stick with Vance and give him that shot,” Elway told The Associated Press.

After the Broncos improved to only 6-10, Joseph’s time was done.

"Vance is a good man. He worked his tail off," Elway said. "And unfortunately, we didn't get it done. We didn't win enough football games and ultimately that's what we have to do."

Caught in a tug-of-war

The hiring cycle after the 2014 season included a touchy situation involving the Bengals, Broncos and Joseph.

Joseph had one year left on his contract to coach Cincinnati’s secondary. But the Broncos wanted him to serve as their defensive coordinator.

The Bengals refused to let Joseph out of his contract. That’s even though the Bengals were coached by Marvin Lewis and Joseph would have been only the second Black coordinator in Broncos history. It would have quadrupled Joseph’s salary and put him a step away from his goal of becoming a head coach.

In 1995, Lewis had been the focus of a similar situation, only in his case, the Steelers let him move up one notch when the Ravens wanted him to be their defensive coordinator.

"It's ultimately the owner's call," Lewis said of retaining Joseph for that final season. "It is a hard thing, because you constantly want to have the best people at their jobs all the time. You want them to have opportunity to move upward in coaching. It's a hard balance. This was a hard one. Vance is a very good coach. A young guy, he's going to have lots of opportunities, but they are all hard."

About his time with the Dolphins …

You might remember the Steelers’ playoff victory over the Bengals in the 2015 season. Not because of the late field goal that gave Pittsburgh the 18-16 edge, but because of the meltdowns by Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict that gifted the Steelers 30 yards via personal fouls on the winning drive.

Two days later, Adam Gase and the Dolphins showed they weren’t deterred by the way that game ended. They hired Joseph, the Bengals’ defensive backs coach, as defensive coordinator.

"There was a big trust factor there with me," Gase said. "That was really the one thing that I loved about being able to at least get him in the building, was I knew he was going to be able to handle that side of the ball, and he brings a leadership quality that you really love about him. He has such a great personality. I know we talked about it before, but that alpha type personality where he demands a lot from players and they give him everything they have."

Gase, of course, was interested in focusing on running the offense, so he needed someone he could rely on to deal with all things related to the defense.

Joseph stayed in Miami for just that 2016 season, when the Dolphins ranked 29th in yards allowed and 18th in points.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Vance Joseph: Miami Dolphins head coach candidate, 5 things to know

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