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Underperforming Dolphins defense could cost Josh Boyer his job, but he’s at peace with whatever happens – Boston Herald

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The big question going into the 2022 season for Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer was if he could run his unit without the backing of ex-coach Brian Flores.

Through unexpected personnel losses, myriad injuries and probably some shortcomings of his own, Boyer has not answered that call.

Entering Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Jets, the Dolphins have the third-fewest takeaways in the NFL with 14 and own the 27th-ranked passing defense and scoring defense, No. 24 third-down defense and No. 20 total defense.

When the Dolphins started the season with a 20-7 victory over the New England Patriots, in which they forced three turnovers and scored defensively on one of them, this was far from the expectation for a unit that excelled in the second half of the 2021 season and was largely kept intact over the offseason.

Regardless of what the future holds for Boyer in Miami, he’s at peace and feels fortunate to be in the position he’s in.

“I think more of, like, Lou Gehrig on July [4], 1939. I feel like the luckiest man on earth. I do,” Boyer said in an impassioned moment speaking to reporters Thursday, channeling the New York Yankees legend’s famed farewell speech after retiring due to being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is now commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“And whatever comes my way, I’ll be okay. And whatever comes our way, we’ll be okay. But we’re going to keep moving forward.”

Boyer is operating with no regrets as he remains steadfast in his approach to live in the present while not dwelling on the past or growing anxious toward the future.

“I think you can learn from the past. But I just don’t think you can live in the past,” he said. And I don’t think you can worry about the future. I don’t think that’s a good way to live. I live, I would say, with a fearless peace because I’m very fortunate for the things that I have. I’m very fortunate for the opportunities that I have. And whatever happens — regardless of right, wrong or indifferent — I’ll be okay.”

The Dolphins have a number of ready-made excuses available to them as to why the defense hasn’t performed: They haven’t had cornerback Byron Jones all season after he remained on the physically-unable-to-perform list for offseason lower left leg surgery; the defense then lost safety Brandon Jones, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and nickel cornerback Nik Needham for the season.

Boyer was not interested in entertaining any of those excuses Thursday. He relayed some of his own hardships in life that he’s had to overcome.

“Look, when I was born, I was born with a collapsed lung. The doctors told my mother I wasn’t going to live,” Boyer said. “From Day 1, you deal with what’s in front of you and you do the best you can. I’m very fortunate. I have a beautiful wife, who’s fiercely loyal. I have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter who’s very strong-willed and a sweet little girl. I have two great parents that I would say broke a cycle of poverty for our family. Hell, I even like my in-laws. I got great in-laws.

“I get to come to work every day with guys that are highly motivated, that want to win, they work their ass off, and don’t really pay attention to ‘Okay, we’ve had this, we’ve had this, we’ve had this.’ They just keep working.”

All that said, Boyer is not ready to review his season as a whole yet, and that’s because there’s still one game left to play that could determine if the Dolphins qualify for the postseason or not, needing a win against New York and a Patriots loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

“It’s unfinished because the season’s not finished,” he said. “Our record, our stats, those are what they are. There’s a time and a place to go back and review and look at all that. Obviously, we self-scout as we go, and then we try to make changes that we think [need to be made]. But all of our focus right now is on this Thursday, what we have in at practice and the Jets.”

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker echoed a similar sentiment analyzing the defense’s season: “We definitely have a lot more that we can take care of. We’ve just been growing every week, and we try to continue to do that, and hopefully that goes on to more weeks. Overall, I know we can do better. There’s always room to improve.”

With Byron Jones never available to play this season and Boyer’s defense so largely based on having he and fellow cornerback Xavien Howard lock down their sides, Dolphins defensive backs coach Sam Madison said Thursday he hasn’t had much communication of late with Jones.

“I think he could have helped us, but injuries, they come up,” Madison said. “Things happen. Some people fight through them. Some people don’t. But right now, we can’t really worry about it. We only can worry about the guys that we have here.”

Jones’ availability could’ve changed much for Miami’s defense this season, but Boyer still refuses to utilize that excuse.

“I think you have to adapt to what you have available to you,” he said. “I’m sure there’s other teams that are dealing with quality players that are not there, and they have to adapt and deal with that.”

Boyer is completing his third season as Dolphins defensive coordinator. He first came to Miami with former coach Brian Flores, from New England in 2019 as defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach. He held cornerbacks coach, defensive backs coach and defensive assistant roles with the Patriots from 2006 through 2018, winning three Super Bowls there while always tied to Flores until this season.

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