Let me be the first to lay this in front of you after Sunday’s Chiefs victory over Miami, 34-15.
From the comparative scores department, the Chiefs first winning effort of the season was completed with a 19-point advantage over a Dolphins team that won their season opener by 13 points over New England.
So obviously, the Chiefs are 32 points better than the Patriots when they face each other next Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
OK, you can stop laughing now. There isn’t a soul alive that thinks the Chiefs are more than four touchdowns superior to a team like New England. At least there’s no one in possession of all their mental marbles.
It was a conference victory, a winning performance on the road and they did it without three of their best players ‚Äď running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. They did it with a revamped offensive line and a restructured back eight on their defense that took advantage of an inferior Miami team.
Yes, it’s the same Dolphins squad that somehow beat the Patriots by a touchdown and two field goals.
How to explain that? Well, there’s this moment guaranteed to happen to each of the 32 teams in the NFL at least once during a season. The best description of these types of days is a team simply was out of its body and mind and ended up failing against an inferior opponent.
That’s the only explanation for the Dolphins beating New England. And maybe it’s the defining explanation of what went down with the Chiefs in their season opener when they lost by 16 points at home to Tennessee.
Since then, the Titans have been clubbed by Dallas (a 16-point loss at home) and Cincinnati (a 26-point defeat by Cincinnati).
Yes, the Chiefs sit 1-2 on the season, the same as Tennessee and Miami. But they appear to be riding the upward elevator from the basement, while the Titans and Dolphins are headed south.
It’s a scenario where more information is needed before a decision can be made on just what the 2014 Chiefs are capable of producing this season. While Knile Davis, Alex Smith and Joe McKnight got the attention for their performances after the game, it was the Chiefs defense that made the victory possible.
In the absence of defensive starters Berry, Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays and Mike DeVito, this group has been re-calibrated by coordinator Bob Sutton. Against Miami the key performers were Chris Owens, Allen Bailey, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson and Ron Parker. All made big plays against the Dolphins; none were major contributors last season.
The defense wasn’t perfect; they allowed too many rushing yards (141 on 20 runs) and they were not able to force a turnover, giving them now three games without an interception or recovered fumble. But they pressured quarterback Ryan Tannehill, sacking him four times and not giving the young quarterback a lot of time to survey the field. Speedy receiver Mike Wallace was targeted a dozen times by Tannehill, but caught only five passes, for an average of 14.8 yards per catch.
Sutton dialed up more blitzes in his game plan than in the previous two games combined sending all sorts of combinations of cornerbacks and safeties flying at Tannehill.
Miami is not one of the league’s better offenses; they came into the game ranked No. 21 in offense per game at 325 yards. They had 332 against the Chiefs. Tannehill is still feeling his way, they were without starting running back Knowshon Moreno because of injury and the tight end was barely visible in the game plan. They have a pair of good receivers in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, but the offensive line had two injury-replacement starters for this game at center and right guard, with a rookie right tackle.
There are never bad victories in the NFL . . . never. They are too difficult to acquire and after all the hard work that goes into preparation, every winning Sunday should be celebrated, especially when it’s the first of the season.
It’s too early to tell whether or not the victory over the Dolphins was a harbinger of what’s still left for the Chiefs in the season’s next 13 games. What we do know is whether they go up or down, they will go with a fighting attitude, even if their best players are not on the field.