The teams happen to share the same bye in Week 11, which gave the league a fortunate option to solve a complicated scheduling issue. Therefore, it was wise to take advantage of it so both Florida teams can focus on their safety and that of their families.
Real-life issues are most important as the Category 5 storm is forecast to approach the state this weekend. Other options, such as relocating the game for a Sunday kickoff elsewhere, would have taken precious time away from storm preparation. Instead, the Dolphins canceled all practices through Sunday to allow their players and coaches to get away from football.
There is a football element to this story, and from that standpoint, the Dolphins' already-challenging season added another degree of difficulty. For a team that has suffered injury losses this summer of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 2016 interception leader Tony Lippett -- and has just seven true home games due to a London trip in Week 4 -- the loss of a bye week is another tough blow to overcome.
Through no fault of their own, the Dolphins essentially wasted several weeks of preparation for Tampa Bay, which has been on the team's radar since the start of training camp. Miami must turn the page next week to the Los Angeles Chargers, and then return to its summer prep against the Buccaneers in November. That is not easy to do.
Dolphins players were not happy about potentially postponing the game when the option was presented to them Tuesday. Nearly every player who met with the media wanted to play the Buccaneers this week and retain their bye.
“Let’s be honest about it -- it’s a long season,” Miami Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry said. “And I think the stretch after our bye week is probably one of the toughest -- if you want to be real about it -- probably the toughest in the NFL. That bye week will give us an opportunity to kind of get some guys healthy. In this NFL, in the league, you’re going to get banged up week in, week out. For us, that bye week, it comes at an appropriate time. For us, to keep it there would be huge."
Miami received its late bye because it asked the league not to schedule the week off after its London trip. Now that advantage is gone due to unplanned circumstances.
The Dolphins went on a surprising playoff run a year ago and exceeded expectations with 10 wins. With major injuries, a quarterback change, the fifth-toughest strength of schedule, only seven home games, and now the loss of the bye week, challenges to a repeat of that success have piled up.
Kudos to the NFL for getting this decision right, but the Dolphins now have an even tougher road ahead with 16 straight games, starting next week.