I know where we are here, but I have to say I was surprised the ushers waited until the fourth quarter to notice the four guys in front of the press box here smoking out of glass paraphernalia.
Also, this was a very impressive win for the Chiefs. On the road, losing the turnover battle, and even being bad on special teams and giving up a safety. They did this by making nearly all the important plays, both on offense and defense. Joe McKnight emerged, and Knile Davis showed he is for real. The Chiefs have to feel very encouraged coming out of here, and into a long week before playing the Patriots (who struggled with the crappy Raiders at home) at Arrowhead next Monday night.
Let’s get to it:
▪ Chiefs came out in 13 — thirteen! — personnel for their first snap. They went back to it a few times later in the game. Andy Reid is showing off.
▪ The play that stalled the Chiefs’ first drive (which benefitted from a gift 15-yard penalty for a ref running into a Miami coach) was a failed reverse between A.J. Jenkins and Frankie Hammond. There’s no telling for sure, of course, but the Chiefs may have seen something from Miami’s game against Buffalo last week, where the Bills struggled against that type of behind-the-line-of-scrimmage movement.
▪ Also, a reverse with A.J. Jenkins and Frankie Hammond is probably not going to work.
▪ Alex Smith talked all week about one of the keys to their success against Denver (compared to the Titans game) being that they kept their third downs manageable. They had an early drive stall on third and long, after Smith took a sack on first down in part because he held onto the ball too long.
▪ I was surprised and happy to see the Chiefs go for that fourth and short in the second quarter. The numbers in today’s NFL, as well as the logic of feeling like you can get a half-yard, mean that going for it on fourth and short should be the rule, not the exception.
▪ Of course, it didn’t end up mattering because Smith took another sack to end that drive. That one wasn’t his fault. Nobody open, and the offensive line got smashed.
▪ We talked about it all offseason, and all of training camp but it’s a bit different seeing it play out in real time and in games that matter: the Chiefs’ offensive line and secondary are pretty bad.
▪ On the Chiefs’ first touchdown, very nice play call by Andy Reid. The Dolphins were caught off guard by the misdirection — again, they’ve shown themselves vulnerable to that — and some good blocking and one good move from Knile Davis took care of the rest.
▪ Speaking of Davis, as long as he holds onto the ball, he’s easy to watch. Always runs hard, never goes down easy, and he’s showing some nice signs of learning the intricacies and timing of playing NFL running back.
▪ Dee Ford made his first play as a pro, knocking Tannehill’s arm on a third-down pass in the second quarter. Talked about this some in Sunday’s column, but his development this season is such a key for the Chiefs’ future. The Dolphins were in third-and-long there because Tamba Hali beat Branden Albert on a sack. Well, Tamba’s probably not going to be with the Chiefs next season. They need Ford to step into that role.
▪ Chiefs’ second touchdown was a really nice throw and catch between Smith and Kelce. Reid sort of called Kelce open, Smith hit him in stride, and then Kelce ran HARD. Watching live, maybe it was just the angle where I’m sitting, but it looked like Kelce would get pushed out around the five.
▪ The sack where Smith fumbled early in the third quarter, that’s on him more than the offensive line. Smith was forced up in the pocket on a corner blitz, and when a quarterback does that he has to be expecting contact and has to hold onto the ball.
▪ The Dolphins turned that turnover into a quick touchdown, and the Chiefs answered with a terrific drive, 66 yards on six plays including two third-and-long conversions. Alex Smith had the one I’ll remember, a scramble around the right side to keep the drive alive.
▪ That drive ended in a touchdown pass to Joe McKnight, and McKnight might be a key development here. In some ways, his usage could be a preview for how the Chiefs will use D’Anthony Thomas, if he ever gets healthy. But in the meantime, McKnight is showing himself to be a capable receiver, either out of the backfield or lined up in the slot. Reid loves little toys like this.
▪ Was that Chris Owens’ best play with the Chiefs? Knocking down a third down pass and forcing the Dolphins to punt late in the third quarter?
▪ The blocking was atrocious on the safety. My goodness. That just can’t happen. Can’t even single anyone out for that, because pretty much everyone up front screwed that up.
▪ Special teams was mostly bad, too. Can’t blame Santos.
▪ The Chiefs did a great job of moving the ball and scoring touchdowns when they needed it. In reality, I don’t know how repeatable of a skill that is. I don’t know if the numbers and data would back up the idea of an offense being better in more clutch situations, but for a day, that’s what the Chiefs looked like to me. And even if it doesn’t exist in reality, it’s a nice thing for an offense to believe about itself.
▪ Chiefs still don’t have a takeaway through three games. That is troubling. They also just won a game on the road when they were minus in turnovers.