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Dolphins hire Anthony Weaver as new defensive coordinator

The Miami Dolphins have their next defensive coordinator. It’s former Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach and associate head coach Anthony Weaver.

Weaver is taking the job with the Dolphins, the team announced Saturday evening. The Dolphins and Weaver finalized a deal after a league source told the South Florida Sun Sentinel earlier Saturday the sides were in agreement.

He replaces Vic Fangio, who left after one season in Miami to become Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator as the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.

“I am excited to add Anthony to our staff, not only for what he will bring to the Dolphins as a teacher and coach, but even more so who he is as a leader of men,” coach Mike McDaniel said in a statement. “He has a proven resume of success, built on his personal investment in his players. Most importantly, he shares our belief that player development is the cornerstone to both team building and sustained excellence. Through conversations with him and those who have worked with him, it became clear that we have aligned values in football philosophies and coaching.”

Weaver was first reported Friday evening to be the front-runner for the role by KPRC2 in Houston. Bleacher Report was the first to report Weaver was the hire early Saturday afternoon.

Weaver, who turns 44 in July, interviewed with the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks for open head coaching positions this hiring cycle before those jobs went to Dan Quinn and Mike Macdonald, respectively.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who reportedly wanted to retain Weaver, was asked Friday morning about Weaver’s status on the team’s staff.

“He’s still involved with the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator job, and we’ll see,” Harbaugh told reporters. “If he gets that job, I’ll be happy for him — if he takes that job. I don’t know if he’ll even take it if he gets offered.”

The Baltimore coach spoke glowingly about Weaver’s prospects as an eventual head coach.

“He’ll be a great head coach,” Harbaugh said. “He didn’t get hired this cycle and great coaches got hired, but someday, people are going to look back and say, ‘Man, we had a chance to hire Anthony Weaver.’ I guarantee you that. They’re going to see they missed their chance, and the next time around, somebody’s not going to miss their chance.”

On Friday afternoon, the Ravens promoted inside linebackers coach Zachary Orr to defensive coordinator to replace Macdonald.

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Weaver first interviewed for Miami’s defensive coordinator role within the past week, according to The Athletic on Tuesday. He ultimately beat out a list of known remaining candidates in Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, outside linebackers coach Ryan Slowik, former Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley and Houston Texans linebackers coach Chris Kiffin.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel has a connection to Weaver dating back a decade. In 2014, McDaniel’s one season in Cleveland, Weaver was defensive line coach with the Browns that year and the next.

Then, Weaver held the same role with the Texans for the next four seasons and was Houston defensive coordinator in 2020, so he enters the role in Miami with previous coordinator experience.

McDaniel has had success finding an assistant he previously had with him at another stop. Last offseason, he hired Butch Barry, maligned at the time, after working with him in San Francisco. Barry did a fine job with a Dolphins line, even as a slew of injuries swapped different blockers in and out of the lineup.

Weaver will be tasked with maximizing a talented defense at all three levels, but also has personnel questions this offseason: whether defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, a free agent, will be brought back, the same for cornerback Xavien Howard, although he is under contract, and whether edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb will be healthy for the start of the season after serious injuries in 2023.

Weaver also had a seven-year NFL playing career as a defensive end with the Ravens and Texans after being drafted by Baltimore in the second round of the 2002 draft.

The change at defensive coordinator marks 2024 as the ninth consecutive season in which the Dolphins will have at least one new coordinator between offense and defense.

On the defensive side of the coaching staff, Weaver will enter knowing he must replace safeties coach Joe Kasper, who is leaving the Dolphins to take the same position with the Eagles, following Fangio to Philadelphia.