Ryan Tannehill wasn’t nearly good enough. Again.
And the Dolphins lost by 19 points. Again.
But that’s only half the story of Sunday's 34-15 shellacking at the hands of the Chiefs, who handed the Dolphins their second blowout loss in a row.
The defense, supposedly the strength of the team, was exposed through the air and on the ground.
Kansas City gashed the Dolphins for 174 yards rushing. Alex Smith was coolly efficient, completing 76 percent of his attempts and throwing three touchdown passes. The Chiefs scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to salt away the game.
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.”
Granted, the players had plenty of their own issues Sunday. The team’s inability to tackle at anything approaching a high level popped up again.
Indeed, 21 of Knile Davis’ game-high 132 yards came on a touchdown run in which he simply bounced off of Trusnik and Jimmy Wilson. Cortland Finnegan made just a passing attempt at a tackle on Travis Kelce when the tight end scored from 20 yards out.
“I don’t think we tackled well enough,” said Joe Philbin, who is now 16-19 as Dolphins head coach. “We have to do better. ... I don’t think any phase played well enough to win.”
Plenty troubles Philbin after his second blowout loss in a row. But the team’s slow starts must be near the top of that list.
For the third consecutive game, the Dolphins went into the half down two scores. They rallied to beat New England in the opener, but in each of the last two weeks the hole proved too deep.
Miami (1-2) has scored just 13 points in the first half of games this season. As a result, the Dolphins wake up Monday alone in the basement of the AFC East. The Chiefs, meanwhile, won for the first time in three games.
“It’s a position you don’t want to put yourself in too many times because in the NFL players are good, teams are good and coaches are good,” said defensive tackle Jared Odrick said of coming out flat. “And they’ll capitalize on that.”
And yet, despite it all — the missed tackles, the ineffectual game plan and the slow start — the Dolphins had the ball, down six points, in Kansas City territory early in the fourth quarter.
Yet they somehow turned a second-and-1 into a punt — without running the ball once.
First Tannehill threw deep to Mike Wallace, which predictably fell incomplete.
Then with third-and-1 at the Chiefs 47, the Dolphins tried to throw again. The result: One of four sacks by the Kansas City defense, flipping a likely four-down situation into a lost drive.
Frankie Hammond returned Brandon Fields’ ensuing punt 47 yards, and nine plays later, Kansas City was in the end zone. More than four minutes remained on the clock, but for all intents and purposes, the game was over.
“When you’re not getting things done, obviously it’s frustrating and it needs to be corrected,” Tannehill said. “It’s still early in the season so I have confidence that we can get this thing turned around. But it has to happen now.”
Sunday marked Tannehill’s fifth consecutive uninspiring game, dating back to 2013. He completed 21 of 43 passes for 205 yards; his lone touchdown came on a 1-yard hookup with Brian Hartline early in the third quarter.
Tannehill is on pace for career-lows in completion percentage (56.5), passer rating (74.1) and yards per attempt (5.0). And yet, Philbin said he doesn't believe his quarterback has regressed in his third season.
Philbin also doesn't believe he’s in danger of losing his locker room before the team even reaches its bye. The Dolphins face the Raiders next Sunday in London.
“We talked about it tonight,” Philbin said. “We’ve got to determine what we’re going to do. We’ve got to back to work, we’ve got to go across the Atlantic Ocean, and we’re going to have to play a lot better.
“We’re not playing well enough over the last two weeks to win a football game in the National Football League. It’s hard to say, but that’s the facts.”
Philbin continued: “It’s a long season. We’re 1-2 right now. We’re going to have to circle the wagons. We’re going to have to play a lot better.”