The Miami Dolphins look to improve to 9-4 on the season and claim their first winning season since 2016 later today. Of course, that is going to be a tough task on Sunday as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs head to South Florida. What can we expect to see from the Chiefs, who come into the game with a league-best 11-1 record?
To answer that question, I spoke with Tom Childs from Arrowhead Pride, SB Nation’s Chiefs team site. You can check out our discussion below. You can head over to Arrowhead Pride to see the other side of our conversation as I answered his Dolphins questions.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a full participant in practice this week after sitting out last week’s game with an illness. He is someone I really liked coming out of LSU, but Miami did not look running back in the first round this year. He is currently 11th in the league with 692 rushing yards. Assuming he is playing this weekend, and there is no reason to think we will not see him, what should Dolphins expect from the rookie? Does his presence change the offense at all? How much of Le’Veon Bell should we expect to see?
Whilst I love Clyde, it’s fair to say that he has underwhelmed so far in Kansas City - however, this has not been all of his fault. When he was drafted the assumption was that CEH would fill a similar role to that of Kareem Hunt’s when he was in town, who was also as good at receiving as he was at rushing. The constant mismatches the Chiefs could create in 2018 because of Hunt’s ability was a big factor why the 2018 offense was as good as it was. For some reason, this hasn’t materialised so far for CEH. We know he has the route running and pass catching ability, it’s why everyone saw him as such a good fit back in April. A small part of me is clinging onto the hope that Andy Reid is saving the good stuff for January.
If there is any way to actually criticize the Chiefs, it may be that they struggled in the red zone last week against the Broncos. Of course, they still won 26-10, but it was not as easy a win as maybe Chiefs fans wanted. What caused the redzone issues?
Whilst it’s easy to criticize the Chiefs for their miscues in the redzone last week, we must remember that the Broncos defense are one of the best inside the 20. Yes, I would like to see the Chiefs hand the ball off some more down at the goal line, but with this offensive line it’s probably going to be a negative play. It’s not like they lack creativity - the Ferrari package has some of the most inventive play calls we’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s just execution. I’m not worried yet because they’re still putting up points and winning games.
I do not understand a team that has players who are currently the second- and third-highest players in terms of receiving yards in the league (Travis Kelce, 1,114 yards; Tyreek Hill, 1,079 yards). If you are the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator, how are you trying to slow the Chiefs offense?
Do what worked when Flores was in New England. Whilst the Chiefs always ended up scoring a lot of points, Flores’ Patriots defense had a high level of success against these two particular players in the first half of both games in 2018. They did this by getting physical at the line and then by bracketing both Kelce and Hill afterward. The issue these days is that Patrick Mahomes kind of has this figured out by now and will happily take the other guys. Another factor that will make it much harder for Flores is how much better Travis Kelce is now than he was just in 2018. He’s on pace to gain nearly 1500 yards - that is crazy.
I am actually surprised that the Chiefs are allowing 132.4 rushing yards a game, which ranks them 27th in the league. I would have expected teams to have to abandon the run early to try to keep up with Kansas City’s offense. Not that the Dolphins have a great running game, but why are teams able to gain so much on the ground against Kansas City?
C’mon Kevin, it’s 2020 - on its own running the football doesn’t matter, especially against the Chiefs. We’ve heard time and again that the way to beat the Chiefs is to control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field. Whilst the logic is sound, it only works when you pair it with the most important thing of them all - aggressiveness. To beat Kansas City, you have to be aggressive in every facet of the game. Get a fourth and short on your own 34 - go for it; single safety look - take a shot. Without an aggressive coaching plan the run game will not beat the Chiefs, regardless of how many yards teams get on the ground. Until teams figure this out, Steve Spagnuolo will not be taking resources away from the pass defense (which is effective) to help out the run defense.
Do you see any way for Miami to hang in this game? What is your prediction for Sunday?
If they do the above, they’ll stand a chance. But they’ll also need Tua to have the game of his life, which may be too much for him at this moment of his career. As for a prediction... I’ll admit I’ve been really bad at this recently, which has led to a lot of comments from opposing fans for my constant blowout predictions. With that you’d expect for me to play it a bit safe this time round - well not today folks. The Chiefs return to the stage of the greatest day in franchise history (by the way we love you Miami for week 17 and for being great hosts) and pick up from where they left off in February. The Chiefs offense will look to right their red zone wrongs from last week, and they will do so in emphatic fashion - scoring over 35 points in the first 3 quarters. Chiefs 38 Dolphins 17.
Bonus question: Our friend Damien Williams opted out of this season. With Edward-Helaire drafted in the first round and looking like the long-term (at least in running back years) answer at the position for Kansas City, what do you think happens with Williams next year?
I really hope he comes back. It would be such a shame for the hero of Super Bowl 54 not to play another down for KC ever again. The chances of Bell resigning are slim so we’ll have roster space. It’ll be a question of his contract and whether the Chiefs can afford to keep him around. Fingers crossed they do.
Maybe my favorite part of our discussion came as Childs closed out. “Thanks for having me, let’s do this again in January!” I like the idea of January football for the Dolphins.