Face it: there weren’t many of us who thought the Dolphins would be in the position the team is in today. Not many of us, the seemingly forever tortured Miami Dolphins fans, thought we’d see an 8-4 team this year. Maybe next year, but not this year. I actually picked the Dolphins to win the division. I’m sure you don’t believe me, but I have the receipt right here. The point is the Dolphins are playing football at a surprisingly high level.
When the schedule came out, we looked at this game against the Kansas City Chiefs and chalked it up as an automatic loss. They’re really good. The Chiefs are the reigning defending champs and the Dolphins aren’t on their level. But this Miami team is playing at a level that, yes isn’t on the exact level of the Chiefs, but isn’t miles away either.
We’ve seen the Chiefs look human a few times this year. Just last week they narrowly beat a Broncos team, a Broncos team that beat the Dolphins if by chance you remember that, by only scoring 22 points. We’ve seen them lose to what looks like a pedestrian Raiders team and have trouble with them once again.
Is there a handy dandy blueprint that’s been made? I don’t know. I think the blueprint for any high powered offense is always the same: get pressure on the quarterback. And like always, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Patrick Mahomes isn’t your typical really good quarterback. He’s probably the best that’s come along in about 20 years. Better than Luck, Roethlisberger, Eli, Rivers, Wilson, and just about everyone else that’s not named Aaron Rodgers and possibly him too. Seems like every move Mahomes makes is the right one. When he throws an incompletion, I wonder: what happened? Is the Earth spinning okay? It’s hyperbole, I know, but it’s not that far off.
All week, we’ve been saying that this the game for the Dolphins to show us and everyone what they got. They’ve played four bad teams in a row, which has helped them get to 8-4, and now it’s time to see what we have. I for one am excited/anxious to see how they perform.
I think the biggest question I’ve seen floating around the Twittersphere is how is Brian Flores going to contain Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? Does he stay as aggressive as he has been and send loads of pressure while manning up on all the receivers? Miami is second in the league with blitzing 47.5% of the time. Well, Mahomes is near the top in the league when pressure comes his way. Does Flores decide to sit back in zone and play coverage? Possibly. But then you give Mahomes all day to do whatever he wants to do for as long as he wants to do it.
Ideally, the best-case scenario is that the Dolphins get pressure by rushing only four guys while the remaining sit back in whatever coverage they’d like. Since that, probably, won’t happen, I think the best route for the Dolphins would be to do a bit of everything. I know that’s a real ride the fence type answer but we’re talking about Brian Flores here. I nor anyone else knows what he’s going to do. He can come out and have the offense and defense switch roles this week. It wouldn’t surprise me. Trying to figure out what Flores is going to do is like trying to figure out what’s the formula to concentrated dark matter. Don’t waste your time.
We all want to see our guy, Xavien Howard, vs. their guy, Tyreek Hill. I’m sure it’ll happen a few times but I don’t think you’ll Howard, exclusively, on Hill. You’ll see Jones, Needham maybe even Brandon Jones on him at times. Hill is the real deal and we know it. He’s not a good person, but he’s really good at football. His speed is unchallenged by anyone in the league and I don’t want to see him in a foot race with anyone from the Dolphins. They have to keep him in front of them at all times.
Eric Rowe vs Travis Kelce will be fascinating. The tight end duster vs the best tight end in the sport. Rowe will face his toughest challenge even more so than Kittle because Kelce is a different cat. There’s nothing traditional about him. For whatever reason, he’s always open. How Miami uses Rowe on Kelce in lieu of how they run the rest of the defense will be quite the chess match. It’s, potentially, my favorite battle of the day.
These guys returned to practice today, which is a really good sign that they play on Sunday.
Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts returned to practice today.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) December 11, 2020
One aspect of the Chiefs offense that can’t get going if Miami wants to stay in this game is for Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell get going. The Chiefs run the ball only 38% of the time. That isn’t much but we saw against the Bills, weeks ago, run 26 times for 161 yards. The Chiefs are the kind of team that has the confidence to win in many ways. Miami, with their front of Seiler, Wilkins, and Raekwon Davis have to do their job.
Ogbah and Lawson have to play the most discipline game of their season. Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson are guys that can kill you with their legs. Mahomes can do the same thing just at a lesser gear. These guys need to stay disciplined in their pass rush lanes. No dipping inside. Keep Mahomes in the middle of the pocket and make him back peddle and throw off his back foot. He can still complete passes like that but it’s better than having him get outside the pocket. There, Mahomes will carve Miami up with his arm or legs.
And that’s the thing, the Chiefs are going to get their yards and points. Miami isn’t going to hold this team to no 13 points. The Dolphins are going to have to keep some sort of pace with him.
That means Tua and the running game need to move the chains on 3rd downs. Miami ranks 25th in 3rd down conversions. That can’t happen against the Chiefs because the Dolphins, at this point anyway, show no signs that they can score in only a few plays. This means the Dolphins need to convert on 3rd and manageable. Can’t get into 3rd and long.
Myles Gaskin came back last week and ran well on the Bengals. The Dolphins will need more of that and then some by Gaskin and whatever running backs will be available. Salvon Ahmed has already been ruled out while Matt Breida is still on the Covid list. Deandre Washinton is questionable. The running game needs to wear down the Chiefs defense who is 27th against the run with giving up 132 yards a game. Those numbers scream run on me. I hope the Dolphins do that.
Ereck Flowers has already been ruled out so it’s going to be Karras, Davis, and the three rookies anchoring the offensive line. I wonder who the 6th linemen will be. Maybe Deiter? Who knows. As long as the Dolphin’s offensive line gives Tua his personal space, Miami’s offense will be in a good position to possess the ball.
If the Dolphins do that, they can let their big dogs eat. I’m speaking about Parker and Gesicki. If Miami is, actually, planning on winning this game, these two guys especially need to have big games. Sure, Grant, Bowden Jr, Perry, and everyone else who’s eligible to catch passes need to do their part. But, Parker and Gesicki need to win their matchups and make clutch catch after clutch catch.
I love Jason Sanders, but the only want to see him when he attempts 33-yard XPs. The Dolphins can’t settle for three in this game. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins go for it on 4th down, early, in the game.
Obviously, Tua has to play his game which is accuracy and timely plays. He knows when to slide out of the pocket and pick up a few yards and hang in there and deliver a strike right before he’s going to get hit. It has to be this way. If the Dolphins go back to using the no-huddle like they did last week, that’s fine. It worked but everyone needs to be on the same page. Can’t get presnap penalties.
At least the Dolphins will look like the part.
The Dolphins will be awfully tough to beat while wearing these bad boys.
Speaking about those beautiful jerseys, the Dolphins have won play of the year while wearing the aqua throwbacks. Not a bad time to do it again.
We get the pleasure of hearing Tony Romo and Jim Nantz during the game. A billion times better than James Lofton and whatever stooge tags along.
Occam’s Razor says to take the obvious choice when making choices. Like if you’re given the options of either wings or ribs, the answer is easy. Wings. The easy choice is to take the Chiefs. They’re extremely tough to stop for a whole game. Now, Miami doesn’t have to stop them the whole game, just a couple of times. They have the talent to do it. Will they start fast and put pressure on the Chiefs early by putting points on the board? I don’t know.
This would be the kind of game that if we were playing in a pandemicless world then the Hard Rock would be poppin. The Dolphins get a stop on their first defensive possession and gain all that momentum along with a crowd would be a game-changer. I know the Miami faithful don’t typically get loud, but they haven’t been able to root for an 8-4 team many times in the past 20 years.
Also. let's not act like Brian Flores isn’t like Col. Hannibal Smith(man I love this analogy) when it comes to coming up with plans to stop offenses. He took out the league’s offensive golden Sean McVay in the Super Bowl a few years ago. He did it again to McVay this year as well. But, let’s not forget that he stifled Mahomes for the first half in the AFC title game before he dismantled the Rams in 2018.
Still, however, I believe the Chiefs to win the game. I hope that I’m dead wrong.
Dolphins 30 Chiefs 35
This game doesn’t take anything away from how the Dolphins have played thus far and everything is still in front of them. It just gets a bit harder after Sunday. Hopefully, the Dolphins do in fact show us what they got and Get Schwifty with it.
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