DAVIE – The Miami Dolphins needed a win at Arrowhead stadium to keep its playoff hopes alive but Miami’s inability to match-up with the Kansas City Chiefs’ versatile playmakers cost them an opportunity to come away with a win on Sunday.
The Dolphins 29-13 loss to the Chiefs drops them to 6-9 on the season and while there is just one game remaining, it’s evident that improvement is needed at the second level of their defense. The Chiefs’ tight ends bested the Dolphins linebackers as Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Orson Charles combined for 9 receptions for 116 yards.
Whether Miami placed a linebacker or a safety on the Chiefs’ tight ends, they still managed to have success against the Dolphins’ defense. Kelce’s 9-yard touchdown reception, which gave the Chiefs a 10-3 lead in the second quarter came against Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones who allowed Kelce to beat him inside in goal line situation.
The Dolphins have seemingly been unable to stop athletic tight ends all season and speed wide receivers such as Tyreek Hill have perennially given the Dolphins fits.
Hill accounted for 109 yards on 6 receptions as a result of the Dolphins’ safeties who could not rotate fast enough to prevent him from generating an explosive 52-yard play.
The Dolphins as a whole did not play complimentary football against the Chiefs. The defense allowed 23 first downs allowing the Chiefs to control the clock. Kansas City maintained possession of the football for nearly 40 minutes of the game, which forced the Dolphins to abandon the run game in the second half.
Running back Kenyan Drake who has been electric this season had 51 yards at the half but only received four more carries for just 6 yards in the second half.
The Dolphins biggest play came from second-year receiver Jakeem Grant who amassed 4 receptions for 107 yards. His biggest play was a 65-yard jaunt off of a screen pass, which made the score 20-13 Chiefs. Unfortunately, the Dolphins’ offense went cold as they would not score another point for the remainder of the contest.
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler did not play poorly, but it is clear that the team needs a more dynamic quarterback who can move out of the way when there’s pressure. Cutler finished with 286 yards and 1 touchdown through the air, but in order for the offense to move the football consistently, the Dolphins must get their hands on a quarterback who can make off-schedule plays.
Miami will also need to improve at the second level of the defense as its inability to prevent tight ends from making plays has kept them from getting off of the field on third downs.
While the Dolphins have locked up Reshad Jones for the next five years and T.J. McDonald for the next four years, neither safety is particularly rangy. The Dolphins should explore finding a safety that is more of a compliment, who is capable of getting sideline-to-sideline a beat faster, or the NFL’s speedier wide receivers could continue making plays against the Dolphins’ secondary.
The Dolphins have posted losing seasons for six of its last nine years. If the aforementioned changes aren’t made, Miami might see more of the same in 2018.