Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs-Dolphins

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs look to avoid repeating history and continue their three-game winning streak by traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins. The challenge is avoiding a let down on the road against a team that has not played very well this season. At this time last season the Chiefs had a 5-3 record and were coming off a very emotional victory over division rival Oakland. The Chiefs traveled to Buffalo for what looked like a game they should certainly win. Unfortunately, the team did not execute well and fell to the 3-5 Bills, 14-3. That loss, probably more than any other, kept the Chiefs out of the playoffs. This season the Chiefs roll into Miami on their winning streak fresh off of a victory over cross-state rival St. Louis. The difference this year may be head coach Herman Edwards. He seems to have this team incredibly focused, evidenced by their ability to overcome adversity this season.

This week I spied on Dolphins fans from one message board: Fin Heaven. Dolphins fans on this board are very confident in Miami's ability to beat the Chiefs. Some even predict a double-digit victory by their 2-6 team. Their confidence is drawn from an impressive upset on the road over the previously unbeaten Chicago Bears. That victory has blown new life into the Dolphins fans, including those speculating on a nine-game winning streak, ala the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago, to propel them to the playoffs.

Dolphins Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"The Chiefs aren't going to be the only ones with a top running back on the field this Sunday. That's for sure.

Our offensive line kicked some Bears behind this Sunday ... the #1 defense in the NFL ... they flat out DOMINATED them. I think our offensive line has finally settled in for the first time this year. We've had plenty of OL injuries and position changes. It looks like our OL coach has put together the right players in the right positions.

You know what that means? Look out for Ronnie Brown ... 6'0" and 232 lbs. of bruising 4.4 speed coming through the running lanes. He got 157 yards on Urlacher ... one of the best defenses against the run ... 190 total yards with his pass receptions ... 5.4 yards per carry against the Bears and 4.1 yards per carry for the season ... that's the same ypc average as Larry Johnson. He's a damn good receiver too.

Ronnie could have done a lot better this season but our OC has only been giving him around 17 carries/game. Johnson's been averaging about 25 carries per game. I noticed that Johnson got 39 carries against the Seahawks." DolphinsFan23 – Finheaven.com

"The Chiefs defense is much improved. However, the Chiefs DLine is still somewhat undersized. I really think we can attack you guys up the middle. I didn't think we could attack the edges against the Bears because of their speed, but I was surprised. I don't think we can do the same with Bell and D.Johnson at the OLB position, but if we can run some sweeps against Chicago, maybe we can against KC. I think Chris Chambers really has an advantage against the Surtain or whomever you line up in the slot (Walls?). Ty Law is very physical, and he could give Chambers problems. I thought Marty Booker was much more physical with Law and was our best WR against the NY Jets last year and when facing Ty Law." rdhstlr23 – Finheaven.com

"Ronnie will turn the Chiefs "D" into Swiss cheese this Sunday." Brown42000 – Finheaven.com

"Very simple, we do have a couple of match up's because their secondary isn't the best and the fastest in the league. It all comes up to our play at quarterback and how we execute in offense. We need Harrington to play a near perfect game for us and our receivers and Ronnie to step it up and make the best out of their abilities." juniorseau55 – Finheaven.com

The Spy's analysis

6, 0, 12, 24, 56. Strange numbers with no apparent pattern. These numbers are the length of each of Miami's scoring drives against the Bears. The zero-yard drive was a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive end Jason Taylor. The 56-yard drive ended in a field goal. What does this have to do with the Chiefs defense vs. the Dolphins offense? Good question. The first defense of Miami's offense actually comes from KC's offense. The Chiefs absolutely cannot turn the ball over and give the Dolphins a short field. The Dolphins have not shown an ability to consistently drive the length of the field and score points. Field position created by the offense and special teams will go a long way in determining the defense's success.

The Chiefs must also tackle Ronnie Brown. The defense must remain disciplined in their run defense assignments. Brown had his best game of the season against a very good Bears defense. The Chiefs must shut him down. The Dolphins passing game needs a strong running game to be successful. Stopping Brown is the key.

Quarterback Joey Harrington is one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, but he has thrown nine interceptions in his four starts, including at least two in each start. The stat this game will not be the number of sacks the Chiefs defensive line and linebackers get, but rather how many pressures and hurries they get. Harrington has proven if you get pressure on him, he'll throw a couple to the defense.

Dolphins Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"Fins will win. Bell will shut down Tony Gonzalez and Zach will get over 15 tackles this Sunday and shut down LJ for the most part. Miami has all the momentum and will be 5-6 after Detroit." Brown42000 – Finheaven.com

"we shut down gonzo, we win. it's that simple. our blitz happy D will get penetration and disrupt lj and his "wait for everyone to get blocked then run 5 yards untouched" approach. the kc wrs should not be the reason we lose. if they are, we deserve to lose. the absolute key is taking tony g out of this game. i dont care if it takes 3 defenders, do it. gonzo is huard's go to guy. take him away and the kc passing game is a non factor. double gonzo and blitz off the edges. easier said than done but i believe our d is up to the task." thecoordinator – Finheaven.com

"the dolphins do have one of the best run defenses in the league... our YPC is slightly skewed from that one run from ahman green (i dont know where that came from)... but for the most part our run defense has been very good... better than san diego and denver

even with that 1 80 yard run by green our YPC is 3.4 4th best in the league... without that 1 run we could really be at like 3 ypc and only behind baltimore... but we did give it up so even with that 3.4 ypc that's better than denver and san diego." Arsenal – Finheaven.com

"The Dolphins D is severely underrated and playing under the radar. They are a force up the middle and with the addition of Bell to the secondary have IMO strengthened their Run D. My prediction is we do not stack 8 in the box, we play base D with blitz help and let our Run D do its job. This frees up an additional man to help with Gonzo." Truedus – Finheaven.com

The Spy's Analysis

The Dolphins rank in the top half of the league in rush defense (#13) and No. 4 in total defense. As they have historically done, they play very good defense. However, a closer look at their rushing defense reveals something very interesting. In their eight games this season, Miami has only faced one running back currently ranked in the top 10 in the league in rushing, ninth-ranked Willie Parker of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Parker ran for 115 yards against the Dolphins. Their other seven opponents do not have a running back ranked higher than 14th. Why is that important? The key to the Chiefs' offensive success is the running of Larry Johnson. If Johnson can continue his current streak of 130-plus yards per game, quarterback Damon Huard will be successful and the Chiefs will likely continue their streak of 30+ points. With guard Brian Waters out with a knee injury, that may be a bit more difficult. However, Waters missed the last three quarters against the Rams and Johnson still ran for over 170 yards.

The Dolphins like to blitz a lot, so Johnson could also be big in the passing game via the screen pass. Further, if the Dolphins secondary focuses on Larry Johnson, Eddie Kennison and Kris Wilson should become very effective targets for Huard.

The Spy's Summary

I've been saying this since the Steelers game and the mantra still rings true. Focus, focus, focus. When teams have let down games or get caught by trap games it is usually due to a loss of focus. That loss of focus usually is exposed through turnovers, penalties and blown assignments. The Chiefs must maintain their focus in this game. It doesn't matter who's injured and who's not suiting up. What matters is maintaining focus and every man executing his assignment. Elite and playoff teams exhibit that focus week in and week out. The Chiefs have spent the last six weeks and in particular the past three weeks trying to prove they are one of those teams. Their focus has gradually improved since it began to wane in Arizona and completely fell apart in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs need to take another step forward in the focus category in Miami. Their ability to do that may have huge ramifications when the regular season ends. It certainly did last year when they failed to maintain that focus in Buffalo.

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