MIAMI (AP) — Matt Burke climbed Kilimanjaro, did charity work in Uganda and took a safari in three other African countries. Now he begins another ambitious adventure – as defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins.
Burke, the Dolphins’ linebackers coach this season, was promoted Thursday as the replacement for Vance Joseph , who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos. Burke joined the Dolphins in 2016 after Adam Gase was hired as head coach.
”It was an easy decision for our organization to elevate him,” Gase said. ”The players respect him immensely. They love the attitude and energy he brings every day. They respect his knowledge of the game.”
Burke, 40, likes to travel in the offseason and has been to Africa the past two years.
”It’s a high-performance, high-stress business, and it’s kind of my way to get away from things,” Burke said. ”I try to take a pretty good trip outside the country every year and go hike the mountains or backpack around the world somewhere. I haven’t planned anything yet this year.”
He may find it difficult to squeeze in a long vacation, given the challenge he faces to upgrade a defense that allowed a franchise record 6,122 yards and was especially soft late in the season.
Injuries were an issue, but significant personnel changes are likely. The Dolphins will keep the same 4-3 scheme, however.
”We did a good job of instituting our structure and having a nice foundation to build from moving forward,” Burke said. ”The guys bought into what we were trying to do.”
Gase agreed. He led the Dolphins to 10 wins and their first playoff berth since 2008 before they lost in the first round at Pittsburgh, and he’s hoping for no other changes in his staff.
”This is one of those moves where we’re able to keep the continuity of our system and our coaching staff together,” Gase said. ”Our players won’t be walking into a brand new system. We’ll really be growing from this point on.”
Burke was also linebackers coach for the Lions (2009-13) and Bengals (2014-15). He was an assistant with the Titans from 2004 to 2008.
He played safety at Dartmouth and was part of an undefeated Ivy League championship team in 1996.
”I have somewhat of an academic background, and I take an analytical approach to things,” Burke said. ”But this game is about emotions as much as anything. I don’t know if I’m going to have any patented fist pumps or anything like that, but I’ll probably curse little more than VJ did on the sidelines. I hope the guys are ready for that.”
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/steven-wine