As new Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel looks to have continuity on the defensive side of his coaching staff, defensive coordinator Josh Boyer wasn’t the only assistant retained on Friday.
The Dolphins are bringing back defensive line coach Austin Clark, linebackers coach Anthony Campanile and cornerbacks coach Charles Burks on defense and keeping Eric Studesville as running backs coach, a league source confirmed to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Studesville previously served in that role and as co-offensive coordinator in 2021 under previous coach Brian Flores. He drops the coordinator title but will also be associate head coach while newly hired tight ends coach Jon Embree will be McDaniel’s assistant head coach.
The Dolphins lost former outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard on Friday. He accepted the same role as outside linebackers coach of the Baltimore Ravens, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic, ESPN and NFL Network. The retention of the other assistants was first reported by the Miami Herald on Friday.
Clark first joined the Dolphins in 2020 as outside linebackers coach but was then promoted to defensive line coach for the 2021 season.
He led a group up front that was critical in Miami’s defensive turnaround midseason last year. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins led all NFL defensive linemen in tackles with 89. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah was Miami’s sack leader with nine. Nose tackle Raekwon Davis and defensive lineman Zach Sieler were key cogs in the unit’s play, especially defending against the run.
Campanile completed his second season leading Dolphins linebackers in 2021 after a college coaching career that took him through Michigan, Boston College and his alma mater, Rutgers.
The linebacking corps last season was anchored by Jerome Baker’s team-leading 92 tackles, along with 5 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. Fellow linebacker Elandon Roberts was third on the team with 83 tackles.
Burks took over an already-established cornerback position group in 2021, led by the team’s lone Pro Bowl selection, Xavien Howard, with Byron Jones starting opposite of him. Nik Needham took a big step in his third NFL season in 2021. He was a coaching assistant on the Dolphins’ staff the previous two seasons.
Although the offensive staff is largely expected to be overhauled by McDaniel, who has already hired Embree and former Dolphin and Patriot Wes Welker as wide receivers coach, McDaniel is keeping longtime NFL running backs coach Studesville.
After the Dolphins and 2020 offensive coordinator Chan Gailey parted ways, Flores named Godsey and Studesville co-coordinators on offense. The Dolphins ranked 31st out of 32 teams in rushing yards per attempt last season but improved toward the end of the year when veteran and former Miami Hurricanes great Duke Johnson was elevated to the active roster to become the team’s starting running back.
Studesville has been a running backs coach in the NFL dating all the way back to 1997. He has coached backs for the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos and first joined Miami in the final season of Adam Gase’s tenure as head coach in 2018. Studesville has also done his job in Miami with running backs that were either late draft picks or undrafted, such as Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Leonard had three different roles in three seasons in Miami that coincided with Flores’ tenure at the helm. In 2019, he was the Dolphins’ linebackers coach. He moved to assistant defensive line coach in 2020 and then outside linebackers in 2021.
Last season, Leonard coached a group with the Dolphins that included rookie Jaelan Phillips as he set a team rookie sack record with 8 1/2. He also helped Andrew Van Ginkel take another step at the position in his third season and even had inside linebacker Jerome Baker rotate over to the edge at times.
Leonard is the second Dolphins’ assistant coach to head to Baltimore this offseason, joining last year’s co-offensive coordinator, play-caller and tight ends coach George Godsey, who became the Ravens’ tight ends coach.
According to NFL Network, the Dolphins allowed most of their assistants to search for other jobs while Miami’s head coach search was going on.
Leonard represents a second key defensive assistant that won’t remain on the staff after defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander was fired on Thursday. Alexander also interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator opening before it was filled.
Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London and New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, who had a successful decade-long tenure as UM receivers coach from 1996 to 2005, have been reported as interviewing for McDaniel’s offensive coordinator opening. McDaniel said Thursday he will call plays on offense.
Both Embree and Welker held the same roles with the San Francisco 49ers while McDaniel coordinated the offense last year under coach Kyle Shanahan. McDaniel already retained Dolphins special teams coordinator Danny Crossman in the same role.
Along with the offensive coordinator vacancy, McDaniel’s hires for offensive line coach and quarterbacks coach will be pivotal in getting the most out of his Dolphins offense and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in his first season leading the team.
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