Editor’s note: We welcome Managing Editor Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider — our sister site covering the Miami Dolphins — for Five Questions with the Enemy as we head into the Week 13 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dolphins this Sunday.
1) Has switching to Tua Tagovailoa now been proven to be the right call?
I think it has — if only because it gets rookie mistakes out of the way and starts his learning curve. The offense has played better with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center — because, as a veteran, Fitzpatrick understands the speed of the game and, as everyone knows, is not afraid of switching into gunslinger mode and taking chances. Tagovailoa is not that guy yet. He is conservative — and he is still learning that when a receiver has a half-step, that is open. The Dolphins are trying to win now — and at 8-4 they are doing that — but they are also looking to the future, and that is where Tagovailoa being on the field makes the most sense.
2) Chiefs fans were big fans of Emmanuel Ogbah before he was injured last year. How has he been playing?
Ogbah has been a beast. He was threatening Aaron Donald for the lead in sacks this year, but has fallen off a little over the past few weeks. He had five quarterback hits last week — and he initially recorded a strip-sack, but replay showed Brandon Allen’s hand had just started moving forward when Ogbah got there, so it was ruled an incomplete pass. He is eighth in the league in sacks so far this season, recording eight sacks through 12 games. He has been a force along the defensive line, with 36 tackles so far on the season. He is absolutely a great addition to the Dolphins defense — especially as Miami looked to find an upgrade to Taco Charlton.
3) How close is Miami to joining the top table in the AFC?
I think they are close, but it is not something likely to happen this year. They are going to fight as hard as they can to stay in the AFC East race and try to make themselves into contenders, but there are still holes on the roster that another offseason is needed to fill. Miami has two first and second-round picks next year, so they should be able to continue to build through the draft, find talent, and keep the young nucleus of the club growing together. They seem to have the right coach in Brian Flores. They have the quarterback around whom they will build in Tua Tagovailoa. They have an incredibly strong (and young) defense — including league-leader in interceptions Xavien Howard, coverage blanket Byron Jones, do-everything linebacker/special teamer Andrew Van Ginkel and Ogbah. The foundation is there — and I think in 2021, they can pull themselves into that fight.
4) If you could put any Chiefs player not named Patrick Mahomes on the Dolphins offense, who would it be?
Tyreek Hill is the obvious answer here, but I will not say him because I think the Dolphins would end up using him like they use Jakeem Grant already. I would love Travis Kelce, but I think there is a bigger hole — given Miami has Mike Gesicki to be that receiving threat tight end. Neither of those Dolphins players are at the level of their Chiefs compatriot, but I think the drop off is not steep enough to ignore Miami’s need at running back. My dream running back in last year’s NFL Draft was Travis Etienne, only to have him decide to stay at Clemson. After that, I wanted Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I will still say that would be the player I would add to Miami’s roster right now. I think he would plug in as Miami’s starter — perfectly complimenting DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Jakeem Grant — and help take some of the pressure off Tagovailoa.
5) How will this game play out? Score prediction?
I want to believe Miami can hang with the Chiefs, but this is definitely a different weight class for the Dolphins. I think their defense will be able to disrupt some of the things Kansas City tries to do, but there are just so many weapons that I think the Chiefs are still going to outgun the Dolphins in the long run. I’m going to believe Miami’s defense can keep this lower-scoring than maybe some of Kansas City’s games this year. Maybe the Dolphins can keep the streak of the Chiefs not scoring more than 27 points — like the last two games. I will say Chiefs 27-21, but that is just a completely made-up guess.