Dolphins vs Chiefs: 11 Things We Learned from Miami's 31-3 Win

Scott AltmanCorrespondent INovember 6, 2011

Dolphins vs Chiefs: 11 Things We Learned from Miami's 31-3 Win

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    After eight excruciating weeks, the Miami Dolphins finally got into the win column today. Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby and Matt Moore led the 'Fins past the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 31-3. 

    The Dolphins' chances of landing Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft took a severe blow today, but it feels absolutely amazing to see this team secure a win—especially in such dominant fashion. 

    Today's blowout showed that Miami's roster has loads of potential, but just needs the right circumstances for everything to click. 

    What else did we learn today?

    Here's 11 observations. 

Reggie Bush May Be Realizing His Potential

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    Reggie Bush has been the target of widespread criticism ever since he entered the league in 2006. Even though he enjoyed some successful seasons in New Orleans, Bush hasn't lived up to the outlandish hype that followed him into the NFL

    However, Bush is now showing signs of revival. 

    Bush followed up a 100-yard rushing performance against the Giants last week with a 92-yard (and 142 total yards) day against the Chiefs. 

    Prior to last week's game against New York, Bush had totaled only 232 rushing yards for the season. But after Sunday's game versus Kansas City, Bush now has 427.

    Bush is on fire, and he could earn a long-term extension if his superb play persists. 

Tony Sparano Finally Took the Schakles off of the Offense

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    After multiple seasons of stale, outdated and overly conservative game plans, Sparano finally let his offense loose against Kansas City on Sunday. 

    Miami showed countless different looks, including some five wide receiver sets. Moreover, Reggie Bush was utilized all over the field—in the slot, out wide, in the backfield and even in a reverse play that led to a touchdown. 

    It's a shame that Sparano didn't remove the shackles from his offense earlier, because they looked nearly flawless. However, Sparano's stubbornness to change and adjust is one of the many reasons he will soon be fired. 

Karlos Dansby Is Finally Turning into a Dominant Force for the Dolphins

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    For a vast majority of this season, Karlos Dansby looked overpaid and uninspired. He rarely made impact plays, and his struggles in coverage plays made him a liability on third downs.

    But Dansby, like Reggie Bush, has played invigorated over the past few weeks.

    Dansby, who registered 11 tackles today, now has 30 over the past three games. He had only 22 in Miami's first five games. 

    Statistics aside, Dansby finally looks like the franchise middle linebacker the Dolphins hoped he would become when they gave him $47 million. He flies around the field, and even when he doesn't make a tackle, he is demanding the offense's attention. 

Kevin Burnett Is on the Rise, Too

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    Like Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby and many other Miami Dolphins, Kevin Burnett is finally turning the tide on a formerly atrocious season. 

    Burnett, whom the Dolphins signed to replace Channing Crowder this summer, racked up double-digit tackles for the first time last weekend and tacked on another 12 against the Chiefs. 

    He also recorded 1.5 sacks against Kansas City, showing the athletic versatility the 'Fins initially hoped he would bring to the table. Burnett isn't off the hook after two great games, but it's very encouraging and relieving to see him play this well. 

Anthony Fasano Had a Tremendous Day, but Tight End Is Still a Primary Need

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    Antony Fasano has been a complete afterthought in Miami's offense this season, but he reeled in a pair of touchdowns on Sunday. 

    Fasano was instrumental in the Dolphins' victory, but there's no reason to believe he will see some kind of revival now. He doesn't present any matchup problems for opposing defenses, and Miami still needs to target a tight end early in free agency or the NFL draft next summer. 

"Phillip Merling Is Officially a Bust"

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    That's what Dave Hyde tweeted today, anyway. And it's hard to disagree with him. 

    The Dolphins placed Merling on the inactive in favor of Igor Olshansky before Sunday's game. 

    Even though Merling appeared to be emerging as a quality option during the early stages of the season, he has totaled only one tackle and clearly hasn't garnered trust from the coaching staff. 

    It has become increasingly safe to say that Merling, a former second-round pick, is a bust. 

Charles Clay Needs More Playing Time

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    Few sixth-round picks ever make an impact for their respective NFL teams, but few sixth-round picks compare to Charles Clay. 

    Clay, a 6'3", 240-pound H-back, possesses a dynamic blend of speed, power and athleticism—and he put it all on display against the Chiefs. 

    While the Dolphins' stars thrived, Clay snuck in three receptions for 50 yards on an overwhelmed Kansas City defense. When Miami's marquee players like Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush play well and demand attention, Clay can become one of the team's deadliest weapons. 

Miami's Defense Showed Who They Could Have Been Against the Chiefs

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    After the Dolphins' defense finished the 2010 season ranked sixth in the NFL, extremely lofty expectations were set for 2011. Jared Odrick was returning from injury, Kevin Burnett figured to provide a big upgrade from Channing Crowder and the team's young cornerback duo seemed primed for stardom. 

    Of course, monumental disappointment ensued, but Sunday's game provided a glimpse at how good this defense could have been. 

    Miami's infinite rotation of defensive linemen wore down Kansas City's offensive line, and they sacked Matt Cassel five times. Meanwhile, Sean Smith and Jimmy Wilson locked down Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston. 

    If the Dolphins' next general manager keeps this corps of players, then Miami's defense could return as a top flight unit within a year or two. 

The Dolphins Probably Won't Have the First Pick of the 2012 Draft

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    As most of you know, there was one huge caveat to Miami's victory on Sunday: They fell behind in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. 

    The Indianapolis Colts fell to 0-8 today, and they continue to look inferior to the Dolphins. 

    Both teams have their fair share of easy matchups coming up over the next few weeks, but Miami fans might want to start checking out some of the other 2012 draft quarterback prospects like Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin III. 

    The race to the bottom isn't over, but the Colts took a rather substantial lead today. 

Daniel Thomas Is Quietly Struggling

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    Daniel Thomas racked up 202 rushing yards in his first two NFL games, but he has struggled mightily since. 

    Thomas, who has been limited by a variety of injuries, has accrued only 112 rushing yards in his last three games. His worst performance came against the Chiefs on Sunday when he churned out 12 yards on seven carries. 

    It's perfectly normal for rookies to struggle, but Thomas' durability issues are starting to become a huge hindrance. He hasn't looked fully healthy in weeks, and the effects are evident. 

    Reggie Bush can carry the slack for now, but it'd be great to see Thomas rebound over the next few weeks. 

Tony Sparano Won't Be Fired Until After the Season Ends

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    Stephen Ross stuck by Tony Sparano through the first half of the season. Despite outcries from the fanbase, Ross realized that the team had no good interim options on staff, and his patience paid off on Sunday. 

    Now that Sparano got the Dolphins into the win column, you can rest assured that he will not be fired during the season. 

    Firing Sparano would serve no purpose at this point, and he clearly still knows how to inspire his players to play hard.