I’m not really a “moral victory” kind of sports fan. If you lost, you lost. However, I do think there is still a hierarchy to losses, and that should change how you analyze things when your team comes up short. The Dolphins lost 33-27 to the Chiefs today, but goddamnit if there weren’t some bright spots to appreciate.
I gotta admit I kind of enjoyed watching Tua Tagovailoa work with his team behind big. He hasn’t had to do that too often thus far, which has led to some very conservative play. With the Dolphins down 30-10 in the fourth quarter, Chan Gailey seemed to open things up for Tua (he should do this much more). It was fun to watch, as he uncorked several impressive passes down the field into tight coverage to gain some chunk yardage. They nearly pulled off the comeback attempt against the best team in football.
Tua was far from perfect, however. Chan Gailey’s offense often looks like it’s stuck in the mud due to his questionable play-calling, but Tua still has to learn what “open” is in the NFL. Granted, Dolphins receivers have been well below average this season; I’m not saying he has to go all Ryan Fitzpatrick firing balls into triple coverage. But Tua can certainly afford to rely on his uncanny accuracy a little more.
The Dolphins defense made some incredible plays today. How many three-interception games will Patrick Mahomes have in his career when he is all said and done? Five? Ten? Well, today will be one of them, as three Dolphin DBs came down with one of his passes, including Xavien Howard for the fifth game in a row and ninth (!) time this season.
They also got to him up front, sacking him three times, one for a whopping thirty yard loss. Miami’s high-priced secondary is the crown jewel of this elite defense, but the pass rush has been a pleasant surprise. That was led by one man in particular today.
Game of Jerome Baker’s professional career. Without a doubt. The OLB accounted for 2.5 sacks, bringing his total on the season to five. If he keeps producing this type of game film, he could be in for a handsome second contract after next season.
Giving up just 24 offensive points to the Kansas City Chiefs and forcing Patrick Mahomes into one of the worst games of his career is an accomplishment. The Miami Dolphins defense can carry them a long way in 2020 and beyond.
It doesn’t get much easier
The Dolphins won’t have to play the Chiefs again in 2020, but the rest of their schedule is far from a cakewalk. They get the Patriots, Raiders, and Bills to end the season. They will probably have to win at least two to secure a playoff spot, which will be a challenge against this trio of teams.
Miami is absolutely capable of getting it done, but that will require them building off the successful aspects of this game, namely the defense and the fourth quarter offense. I don’t trust Chan Gailey, like, at all. But I do trust Brian Flores. Here’s hoping he gets Gailey to loosen the reins on Tua.