After a 21-14 loss to Buffalo in the regular season finale, the Dolphins moved on quickly and refocused their energy and attention to the Kansas City Chiefs.
As defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said Monday, “We’ve already put it aside… The regular season is behind us and I’m excited for what’s ahead now.”
If not by choice, it’s by necessity that instead of dwelling on past games, Miami is working to make sure it’s in the best possible position to win the next one. A Sunday night game to close out the regular season followed by a Saturday night playoff game offers time for preparation, not reflection, especially as the Dolphins head to Arrowhead Stadium where Kansas City is 8-1 in nine home playoff games over the last four seasons.
Here’s what Head Coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and other members of the team had to say before the team’s AFC Wild Card matchup against the Chiefs.
Scouting Kansas City
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
(On what the Chiefs’ receiving corps does well) – “I think (Rashee) Rice has really emerged for them. He’s really a good runner after the catch. He’s shown good hands. (Justin) Watson has really emerged here the last part of the season and really gets down the field. He’s fast with good speed and you can tell Mahomes likes throwing to him. (Marquez) Valdes-Scantling has always been a good receiver. They’re still one of the top offenses in the league and they can explode at any moment with (Patrick) Mahomes at quarterback.”
Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith
(On what impresses him about Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense) – “Basically, their ability to really communicate well. You can see that they’re very well connected. They like to dictate the terms, make sure that they’re all, from the back end to the front end, they’re playing sound defense. I worked with him in New Orleans in 2012, so he’s a very meticulous guy. He’s going to be on all the details. He’ll be on all the things that we do as an offense. So it’ll be a big challenge because you have a guy like Steve and his staff that do a great job with Andy (Reid) and just the whole program, and going into Arrowhead is not an easy endeavor. It’s going to be on us to be on all of the things we need to be ready for and our communication and the environment as we go into Saturday night.”
QB Tua Tagovailoa
(On the biggest challenge in facing a Chiefs defense that ranks near the top of the league)
On the Road at Arrowhead
Head Coach Mike McDaniel
(On whether playing against the reigning Super Bowl champions adds an extra element to the already-difficult task of winning a road playoff game) – “I feel like we have a team that has fought and gotten knocked down and stood up and they’re excited for the opportunity to play a team that deserves all of their accolades because they’ve earned them. They’ve earned the home playoff game, so you have an uphill battle that your job is to make it not that. I think our team understands the whys to the position we’re in and are excited for the opportunity to go compete against a team that they know they can compete with and let the chips fall as they may. But I know we’re a closer team that has weathered life’s lessons and are still coming to work with a lot of gusto to go do something special, and I’m very, very motivated to go against a championship-caliber team on the road. It will be difficult, but that’s why it’ll be that much more enjoyable, so it’s worth the grind and it’ll be fun.”
WR Tyreek Hill
(On what it will be like returning to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since coming to Miami) – “Just another game man. I’m looking forward to it. Obviously I’m very excited for it. I’m not looking forward to the cold, but to see old faces again and play inside of Arrowhead is going to be a special moment for myself. It’s going to be awesome.”
LB Duke Riley
(On the key to making sure the team is ready to play in what could be historically cold conditions) – “Just embrace it. Regardless if it is 100 degrees here in Miami or zero degrees wherever it is at, I’m going to be high energy. I’m going to be loving it and enjoying it. At the end of the day, it’s a chance for a lot of people to make a household name for themselves. When I think of the playoffs, I think of Raheem (Mostert) and what he did when he was in San Francisco and made a huge name for himself because a lot of people didn’t really know who he was and he showed them who he was. That’s the message I’ve been relaying to a couple of the guys. The weather doesn’t really matter. The place doesn’t really matter. What matters is the mindset of everybody in the room and on the team, and how consistent can we be and the effort we give. That’s really all that’s going to matter.”
Turning the Page to the Playoffs
Head Coach Mike McDaniel
(On what it would mean to get the franchise’s first playoff win since 2000) – “It was one of the first things I talked about my first day on the job because you have to understand what the passions that your fan base, the experiences they’ve had, what they’re harboring and then what it will feel like to bring people that joy of rooting for a team for that long and then to not be able to experience at least one postseason win… Myself and the whole organization want to deliver on ending that and doing right by all those years of passion. I also think it’s something really cool to achieve, so I’ve been leaning on that both seasons I’ve been here.”
QB Tua Tagovailoa
(On the vibe in the locker room as the team prepares for Kansas City) – “I think the guys are excited that we still have another opportunity and we’re not necessarily leaving the building with a bad taste in our mouth from the last game. It’s just another opportunity for us to hopefully do what we said we wanted to do all along.”
RB Raheem Mostert
(On the team’s mentality coming off two losses to end the regular season) – “We have pure confidence in ourselves, and we believe in ourselves. We just got to go out there and play smashmouth football and do what we got to do. The added pressure converts into even more greatness when you get that win. It’s going to be good going into this game and getting that test. We got handled in Germany, and it wasn’t anything we just shunned away from. We took that full on. Now it’s time for us to go. We’re ready.”
DT Zach Sieler
(On the feeling of playing in the postseason) – “Super exciting. Obviously last week was disappointing, but we’ve moved on from that. We’ve made the corrections and we’re super excited for this week. And we’re in the playoffs. Who cares? Week by week, let’s go earn it.”
For more analysis ahead of Saturday’s game, listen to the latest episode of Drive Time with Travis Wingfield.