The Miami Dolphins are eager to finally take the field Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Due to Hurricane Irma, Miami and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their Week 1 game postponed and remain the only two teams yet to play a regular-season game.
The unexpected layoff brings plenty of unknowns.
For starters, will the Dolphins be a sharp and well-rested team coming off the layoff? Or will rust be an issue for Miami?
Many Dolphins starters have not played in a game since Week 3 of the preseason on Aug. 24, and the entire team has not practiced since last Tuesday. They will take the practice field for the first time after the storm on Wednesday at the Dallas Cowboys' training camp facility in Oxnard, California. The Dolphins traveled to the West Coast nine days before kickoff to avoid the storm.
The Dolphins' biggest challenge this week will be staying focused. Can the Dolphins truly stay locked in on preparation for the Chargers with so much going on at home in south Florida?
The Houston Texans (0-1) dealt with a similar experience in Week 1 and could not get a win. Houston was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and the Texans, like the Dolphins, were displaced and had their preparation schedule significantly disrupted.
Houston did not look well prepared during Sunday's 29-7 upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although not everything can be blamed on the hurricane, it was clear Houston was a distracted team, which is understandable. The Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross are attempting to alleviate some of the anxiety by allowing family members of players, coaches and administration to travel with the team to Los Angeles.
There are some advantages for Miami in this matchup. San Diego played the Denver Broncos on Monday night and will be coming off a short week. The Chargers also do not have game tape of the Dolphins from this regular season to study. San Diego must rely on preseason tape and last year's game for preparation.
Next week the Dolphins have bigger, real life issues to worry about when they return home to survey damage from Hurricane Irma. But this week they must focus, prepare and play before they return to south Florida.