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Miami Dolphins: A Closer Look

Each week we’ll take a closer look at the Chiefs upcoming opponent; this week it’s the Miami Dolphins

The Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) head to the southeast corner of the country to take on the Miami Dolphins (1-1) Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. CST.

Every game in the NFL is important and consistency of execution is the most important characteristic of any good football team. Any coach would tell you that. 

As these two teams get set for Sunday, they've both shown to be inconsistent through the first two games of the season.

The Chiefs are coming into the game confident after just going to the wire with the class of the AFC last week in their 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Despite the loss, the Chiefs showed they're moving in the right direction.

For the Dolphins, the season began with an impressive victory over the New England Patriots by a score of 33-20, but the Dolphins followed it up last week by struggling against the Buffalo Bills, losing 29-10.

View photos of the starting lineup for the Miami Dolphins.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke on the Dolphins on Wednesday.

"They've got a pretty complicated offense," Reid said. "They do a lot of things in the throw game and the run game. Defensively, they're explosive. They have a lot of speed and toughness."

The Dolphins are led offensively by first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who spent last year as the quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles under coach Chip Kelly.

Running a spread offense, the Dolphins routinely have three wide receivers on the field. Against the Bills, the Dolphins had three receivers on the field for 93 percent of their offensive plays. 

It's become the trend in the NFL to spread defenses out so it's not something that will provide a new look to the Chiefs defense, but you can expect a lot more two-defensive lineman looks from the Chiefs. They'll need to have guys on the field who are better at playing in space against this offensive look. 

Much like the Chiefs but not to the same extent, the Dolphins have their own injury issues. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who has missed the first two games of the season as he's recovering from offseason hip surgery, won't play against the Chiefs. 

He'll once again be replaced by veteran Samson Satele, who has played well according to the NFL analytics website, Pro Football Focus, which give Satele the fourth highest grade (3.2) of any Dolphins offensive player. 

But the guards have struggled, as Shelly Smith (-3.2) and Daryn Colledge (-3.2) have the worst grades of any offensive players. Although Smith is dealing with a knee injury and likely won't play, the Chiefs may see second-year player Dallas Thomas at right guard on Sunday.

The Bills were able to bring down Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill with four sacks last week. Much of that was due to pressure up the middle as the tackles have played well on the outside.


The left tackle is someone the Chiefs are very familiar with in Branden Albert, who spent the first five years of his career in Kansas City before signing with the Dolphins in the offseason. Albert has allowed just one quarterback hit in their first two games.

On the right side, it's the Dolphins rookie first-round pick Ja'Wuan James, who played collegiately with Chiefs rookie right guard Zach Fulton at the University of Tennessee.

Just like Albert, James has also surrendered just one quarterback hit this season, and they'll face two Pro Bowl outside linebackers on Sunday in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

The other injury of note for the Dolphins is at running back, where Knowshon Moreno dislocated his elbow in their loss to the Bills last week. He's expected to miss anywhere from four to eight weeks.

Before the injury early in the game against the Bills, Moreno had carried the ball 25 times for 138 yards (5.5 ypc) and one touchdown this season.

In addition to the production, Lazor said Moreno brought something else to this team, via the Miami Herald.

"Anyone who watches the game can see what emotion Knowshon plays with," Lazor said. "He brings something to our team and I bet guys even on the defense and special teams would tell you that." Lamar Miller, the third-year player out of Miami relieved Moreno last week and has 22 carries for 105 yards in their two games this season. He should be the lead back for the Dolphins on Sunday, although Damien Williams and the recently re-signed Daniel Thomas could be in the mix as well.

Leading this team from under center, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been inconsistent as well. He has struggled with his accuracy and leads an offense that ranks last in the NFL in passing yards per attempt at 4.7.

Lazor says he's to blame for the Dolphins offensive struggles this season, via the Miami Herald.

"There is no doubt the blame rests 100 percent on me," Lazor said. "[To be] last in the league in yards-per-attempt, which I think is a pretty good indicator in the passing game of how you are doing, rests on the coordinator and getting everybody to do it the right way."

Tannehill's inconsistent accuracy will provide an opportunity for the Chiefs defenders to make plays on the ball and help provide that game-changing play the Chiefs haven't yet seen on defense.

The Chiefs will also have to contain speedy receiver Mike Wallace on the outside, as the Dolphins do take their shots down the field with him.

Wallace had five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bills.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Chiefs will face one of the top pass rushers in the NFL for the third consecutive week.

In the opener, it was the Titans' Jurrell Casey, and last week against the Broncos it was the combination of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. 

This week the Chiefs face the Dolphins' Cameron Wake, who already has two sacks on the season.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith knows what they're going up against on Sunday.


"You look at their first game at home against the Patriots and they really got after the quarterback," Smith said. "I think one of the strengths of their defense is that front. Those D-Lineman can really get after the passer, all of them."

The Chiefs offensive line, which took giant steps forward in their development against the Broncos, will have to contend with a Dolphins defense that likes to control the line of scrimmage.

Finally, the Dolphins special teams struggled against the Bills and it's another area where a game-changing play could happen for the Chiefs.

The Bills were able to block a punt deep in Dolphins territory, and C.J. Spiller returned a kick 102 yards for a touchdown.

Since 2002, the Chiefs have 19 special teams touchdowns, which is fourth in the NFL in that span.

The much-anticipated debut of rookie punt returner and offensive weapon De'Anthony Thomas, who practiced on Wednesday for the Chiefs, could give the special teams a boost if he's able to go as he comes back from a hamstring issue.

Smith would be excited to have Thomas back on the field.  

"He's such a unique guy and unique talent," Smith said. "He has big play potential and anytime he's out there he's giving defenses more to think about and deal with, and I think that's better for us as a whole."

These two teams have hooked up 28 times in their history, and the Dolphins hold a 16-12 series advantage, including eight of the last 10. But this Chiefs team is primed and ready to get their first win of the season.

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