The New York Jets have just come to terms with former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke, only he’ll take on more of a game-management role in New York.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Burke will focus his 15 years of NFL experience on aiding Robert Saleh with situational football and game-planning/prep work. He will not be a position coach, nor will he call plays.
For a first-year head coach, this sounds like a dream hire to have by your side when the decision-making gets tough, and it will get tough at times.
Who Is Matt Burke?
Many Jets fans are probably wondering, Matt Burke? Game-management? Who, what? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, but we’re here to clear that up for you.
A former safety at Dartmouth, Burke brings both intelligence and on-field knowledge to his coaching repertoire. He also started from the ground up, just like Saleh (who began at Michigan State after a 9/11 epiphany altered his life forever).
Burke’s first coaching job was as an assistant with Bridgton Academy in 1998, but he quickly made his way to the NFL as an administrative assistant in 2004, with the Tennessee Titans. From there, he mostly specialized as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Titans, Detroit Lions, and Cincinnati Bengals, before finally getting an opportunity with the Dolphins.
Promoted after the departure of veteran coordinator Vance Joseph in 2017, Burke led the Miami defense for two seasons. From 2016-17, the Dolphins defensive league rank saw a positive increase in total yards allowed (from 29th to 16th), opposing scoring percentage (18th to 10th), and rushing yards allowed (30th to 14th). However, Burke’s defense regressed in many of those areas in 2018.
After Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was fired by Miami in 2019, Burke was let go as well. From there, he took a job with the Philadelphia Eagles and former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who Burke coached under in both Tennessee and Detroit. He served as a special assistant, defensive run-game coordinator, and D-line coach during his two years with the Eagles.
Connection & Role With Jets
Burke may not have a connection to Saleh, but he does have some ties to the Joe Douglas coaching tree. We already mentioned that Burke worked with Gase in Miami (which may cause many fans to shudder), but Douglas was also a colleague of Schwartz in Philadelphia from 2016-19, and Burke is more of a disciple of Schwartz’s going back to his earlier years in his system.
Although Burke joined the Eagles organization as Douglas left it, the personal connections between the two are certainly hard to ignore. With the Jets, Garafolo went on to report that Burke, “will help [Saleh] on both sides of the ball.”
This could mean anything from in-game advice to pregame tactics and strategizing, but either way, the hire should ease the burden for Saleh in year one. Despite all the praise he may receive from players and coaches around the league, some growing pains are to be expected for the rookie head coach.
Burke and Saleh have one more thing in common, their level of intensity on the sidelines. Both coaches are known for their fiery celebrations (pictured above in Burke’s case), but Jets fans will care more that the partnership leads to winning football.