FRANKFURT, Germany – Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel surprised NFL Network announcers last week with the passion with which he spoke before Sunday morning’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany, specifically, the way he detailed his belief in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
But he also mentioned something else in that production meeting, as commentator Rich Eisen revealed. The Dolphins planned to spend the week in Frankfurt, not only to keep the normal practice schedule intact, but also to rehearse how to conduct the operation remotely.
Because where else does a team spend a week of practice away from their facility? The Super Bowl.
As McDaniel points out that he doesn’t want his team’s first experience doing it that way to occur in that environment, he also speaks to, first, how meticulous he is as a coach, but second, his confidence that his Dolphins They are capable.
Everyone knows the Dolphins (6-2) are good.
But there is another level they must reach. One they haven’t shown outsiders they can do: beat the best teams in the NFL.
All six of their wins came against teams entering Week 9 with losing records. Their two losses by a combined 42 points to others who were expected to compete, the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles.
On Sunday, they have a chance to show the world, literally, that they can really compete with other high-level teams. And they can do it against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (6-2) on the international stage, in a 9:30 a.m. kickoff from Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany.
And while the Dolphins spent the week overseas, arriving Tuesday morning, the Chiefs only arrived in town on Friday morning, participating in an overseas practice in preparation for Sunday’s kickoff.
Yes, McDaniel, aside from the Super Bowl tidbit Eisen revealed Friday, wanted his players to absorb the experience and memories that come with exploring a foreign country. Miami’s players, those who weren’t too tired from a nine-hour flight, were able to go sightseeing Tuesday before acclimating to the time difference, keeping their practice week consistent with what they would do at home.
However, the Chiefs didn’t seem fazed by the jet lag in their Friday media session.
“We’re ready to go anytime, anywhere,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “For us it’s all mental and we’re ready to rock.”
A Dolphins-Chiefs subplot: Miami star wide receiver Tyreek Hill faces off against his former team after spending six seasons in Kansas City, all Pro Bowl campaigns and once winning a Super Bowl.
Hill recalled some of his time with the Chiefs last week, but also let out some profanity when an opportunity arose, when asked if his first game against Kansas City was played on foreign soil or at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It doesn’t really matter where we play. However, they are going to get this job anywhere,” Hill proclaimed when he spoke Thursday.
His former teammates, very familiar with Hill, know where he’s coming from.
“He wants to irritate his crowd and I’m going to support him,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said after the team arrived and practiced Friday. “We still have to line up and play.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes said: “It’s going to be great. That’s my brother. … It will be a big challenge for our defense.”
Mahomes and Tagovailoa are the Nos. 1 and 2 favorites for MVP honors. Sunday’s winner will have an advantage in that race and, more importantly, his team will take the number one seed in the AFC heading into the bye week and have a tiebreaker against the other.
Tagovailoa will look to deliver passes to Hill and Jaylen Waddle against Kansas City’s second-ranked pass defense.
Mahomes could see the debut of Miami’s Jalen Ramsey-Xavien Howard cornerback combination, if Howard is able to play despite a groin injury that has kept him out the past two weeks. Ramsey played his first game as a Dolphin, three months after a knee procedure, in last Sunday’s win over the Patriots, and had an interception.
Beyond the NFL’s global spectrum expanding to international fans based on the game itself, a different set of pop culture-focused eyes will be on this particular game.
Kelce is dating singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. She did not reveal whether Swift would attend Sunday’s game in Germany, and she joked that Las Vegas changes the line because he tends to play better when she’s there.
Both teams have a strong pass rush, and the Dolphins will have to protect Tagovailoa with questions about whether left tackle Terron Armstead will be activated in his first week of eligibility following a knee injury on Oct. 1 and whether center Connor Williams, who is in doubt, can return to starting after a groin injury that has kept him out of four of the last five games.