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1) Familiar Issues Arise – The Kansas City Chiefs found a way to win at home taking down the Dolphins and clinching the AFC West title. In doing so, some of the issues that has plagued this Miami team all season long occurred, and these mistakes have become the norm rather than the exception. On offense, this unit gave away the football at critical times (fumbles by wide outs Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills) and lacked the ability to convert on third down opportunities, going zero for eight on the afternoon. The inability to start fast or create an offensive push in the second half also led to only scoring 13 points, and that’s not good enough in today’s game. On defense, multiple missed tackles, penalties and not making game-changing plays were absent against an offense filled with talent. The Chiefs offensive stars took control and out played the Miami defense, exposing mismatches and finding ways to win. Kansas City also utilized their tight ends verses the Dolphins linebackers and Miami was over-matched. They controlled the ball for over 37 minutes and converted at a 50 percent clip on third down. The only bright spot that kept the Dolphins in the game was in seven red-zone chances by KC, Miami’s defense forced four field goals, keeping the Chiefs point total at a minimum. Head coach Adam Gase spoke after the game about the need to play complementary football, and that certainly has escaped this team for the majority of the season.
2) Need To Finish Drives – The offense had two chances in the first half to make a statement on the road. Two long drives by Miami finished with Cody Parkey field goals (44 and 28 yards) instead of Dolphin touchdowns. A penalty and fumbling a shot-gun snap stalled the first drive when Miami was set up with a first and ten at the Chiefs 22 yard line. The next opportunity broke down inside the red zone after two explosive plays provided by Kenyon Drake and Jakeem Grant. The wide out took a screen pass for 26 yards and Drake added a run of 18 yards to get the ball down to the KC 15 yard line. On a third and five, Miami needed to get the ball to a play makers. Instead, an incompletion to back up tight end A.J. Derby failed resulting in three points. The Dolphins inability to run the football in the red zone has led to the Dolphins offense leading the league in passing attempts inside the twenty yard line. Touchdowns may have changed the momentum of the game and allowed the Dolphins to keep pace with the Chiefs offensive output in the first half.
3) Youth Emerging – There’s a couple of bright spots for the future on a team that’s on the outside looking in at the post season. Young players are starting to emerge and could play important roles as early as next season. Running back Kenyan Drake has looked terrific, using his speed and vision to claim the starting position. In the last four games since being named the starter, Drake has rushed for 369 yards. If you were to project that over a full 16 game schedule, his season total would be 1,476 yards. Also, wide out Jakeem Grant has been a pleasant surprise. His four catches and a career-best 107 yards included a 65 yard touchdown. He caught a short screen pass and showing why speed kills! Grant used that speed to dart past defenders while also breaking a couple of tackles along the way. Offensive lineman Jesse Davis has emerged from nowhere and should be considered a long-term solution up front, either a guard or the tackle position. His size, length and good footwork gives Davis the chance to play multiple positions along the line of scrimmage.