Report: Miami Dolphins lose assistant to Arizona Cardinals, hire college coach to replace him

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have reportedly lost assistant defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc to the Arizona Cardinals, as he is expected to be a part of new Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon’s staff.

“The Arizona Cardinals are expected to hire Miami Dolphins assistant defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc as defensive line coach, sources tell On3,” Matt Zenitz wrote. “Before Miami, LeBlanc was a DL coach at the college level at places such as Arkansas and Kentucky.”

To replace LeBlanc, the Dolphins reportedly are hiring Western Kentucky University defensive line coach Kenny Baker.

“The Miami Dolphins are expected to hire Western Kentucky defensive line coach Kenny Baker as assistant defensive line coach, sources tell On3,” Zenitz wrote. “Baker helped WKU rank second in C-USA in sacks, scoring defense and opposing yards per carry last year.”

Baker was hired by Western Kentucky back in 2020 as the team’s defensive ends coach. He had previously coached at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Mercer University. Baker also played collegiately as a defensive lineman at Gardner–Webb University.

He’s clearly made waves in the college coaching ranks, as moving to the Dolphins is a major step forward in his coaching career.

Miami’s defense finished the 2022 season with 40 sacks, and it has a bunch of talented pass rushers.

Christian Wilkins may be the best of the bunch on the defensive line, and the Dolphins and head coach Mike McDaniel are hoping Baker can unlock even more of Wilkins’ potential in the 2023 season.

Baker will work under newly hired defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Miami.

Fangio is one of the most experienced defensive coordinators in the NFL, and he even spent some time as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

The 64-year-old had stints as a defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers from the 1995 season through the 2018 campaign before being hired as Denver’s head coach.

He should have a ton of knowledge to give to Baker and the rest of Miami’s defensive staff.

The Dolphins made the playoffs last season, their first under McDaniel. However, the team dealt with injuries at quarterback and ended up losing in the first round of the postseason to the Buffalo Bills.

A revamped coaching staff and healthy Tua Tagovailoa might just be what it needs in order to achieve more success in the 2023 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.