Going into Week 3 of the NFL season, the Chiefs hadn’t looked like the same team that went 11-5 last year and nearly snatched the AFC West crown from the heavily-favored Broncos. In back-to-back losses to the Titans and the Broncos to open the 2014 campaign, Kansas City looked more like the team that went 2-14 two seasons ago and earned the No. 1 pick in the draft by virtue of having the worst record in the league.
But then the Chiefs found their rhythm in Week 3, and they did it at the expense of the Dolphins in a 34-15 road victory. Even without star running back Jamaal Charles in the lineup, KC racked up 174 yards rushing. The passing attack was just as effective, with quarterback Alex Smith completing 19 of 25 attempts for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
So what happened to the Dolphins’ defense? The unit looks solid on paper, after an impressive season opener in which they held the Patriots scoreless in the second half of a 33-20 victory, Miami has been picked apart by the Bills (29-10 loss in Week 2) and the Chiefs. Of course, locally most of the criticism seems to be focused on QB Ryan Tannehill and head coach Joe Philbin. But the Dolphins’ D can’t seem to stop anybody, and apparently some of the players are ready to go back to the drawing board. From the Miami Herald:
And for the first time this season, the grumblings inside the team’s locker room about defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle grew so loud, they could be heard outside.
One source said Dolphins players are “beyond furious, irate” at Coyle’s defensive adjustments and game plan.
Players are privately questioning a host of decisions, including Coyle’s call to have Cameron Wake and Jason Trusnik cover speedy Chiefs running back Joe McKnight in space, said another. McKnight exploited the matchups and had two touchdown catches in the second half Sunday.
“I mean, it’s tough,” linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who recorded a team-high 14 tackles, said when asked about the Dolphins’ ugly performance Sunday. “We just have to make the adjustments.”
Poor tackling was also a problem for the Dolphins, and the defensive backs were guilty parties there. Starting cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes, and safeties Jimmy Wilson and Louis Delmas had plenty of opportunities thanks to Miami’s front seven allowing KC’s running backs into the secondary and Smith completing such a high percentage of his passes in front of them.
The Dolphins have a favorable schedule coming up, though, with the Raiders next week and a bye after that. They’ll have sufficient time to get their defensive house in order before hosting the Packers in Week 6.
Coyle, Miami’s maligned defensive coordinator, served as secondary coach for the Bengals for 11 years. In college, he played defensive back at UMass.