Keith Armstrong is entering his seventh season guiding the Dolphins’ special teams units.
In Armstrong’s six previous seasons with the team, the Dolphins have finished in the top eight in the NFL in punt return defense all but one season. Dolphins’ opponents have averaged only 6.1 yards per punt return during this time, including a 4.5-yard mark in 2001 when they led the league in this category, and a 4.9-yard average in 2005, which ranked third in the league. In addition, the Dolphins have allowed just one punt or kickoff return for a touchdown over the last six years, tied with Dallas for the fewest in the NFL over this stretch. The Dolphins also have been in the top eight in the NFL in opponents’ average drive start after kickoffs all six seasons, including a No. 1 ranking in 2003 with a 25.0 mark and a No. 2 finish last year, with a 24.9 figure.
In 2005, the Dolphins’ special teams unit achieved a No. 4 ranking in a rating system compiled by the Dallas Morning News, which consists of numerous special teams categories. The year before, they finished third.
Armstrong came to the Dolphins after serving the previous four seasons (1997-00) in the same role with the Chicago Bears. In 2000, Chicago’s special teams blocked a pair of opponent field goal attempts while also ranking fourth in the NFL in punt return defense, allowing an average of just 7.0-yards per return. In 1998 and 1999, the Bears’ special teams unit ranked fourth overall in the NFL based on a formula consisting of numerous categories. In 1999, Armstrong’s group recovered six fumbles and blocked an NFL-high four field goals. In Armstrong’s four seasons, the Bears ranked in the top ten in the NFL in punt return average, punt coverage and kickoff coverage twice each. In 1999, they led the league in kickoff coverage, having allowed an average of just 16.6 yards per return.
Armstrong first started in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons in 1994, where he coached the safeties for two years before being promoted to secondary coach in 1996. Prior to his full-time positions in the NFL, Armstrong was part of the league’s Minority Coaching Fellowship program during training camps with the Jets (1991), Dallas (1992) and Chicago (1993).
Armstrong was a four-year letterman (1983-86) as a running back and defensive back at Temple University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in health education. He started his coaching tenure as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1987. He went to the University of Miami (Fla.) in 1988 where he worked with the defensive backs and special teams. Armstrong spent one year with the Hurricanes before joining the Akron staff as receivers coach in 1989. A one-year tenure there preceded his move to Oklahoma State, where he served three years (1990-92) as secondary coach. His final collegiate post came as linebackers and special teams coach at Notre Dame in 1993.
Armstrong, who grew up in Levittown, Pa., attended Bishop Egan High School in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Kathleen, have two daughters, Kaitlin and Kristen.