Not even some rain showers could ruin this night for the Dolphins.
Some 60,000 people packed renovated Sun Life Stadium for the first time Saturday, and a few expected hiccups aside, it was a relatively smooth launch.
“I think in the world of things going wrong, we expected to have some glitches here and there,” team CEO Tom Garfinkel said. “We had two escalators that we knew weren’t going to be functioning before the night started. We replaced a lot of them. It’s not the end of the world. Little things here and there that some of the credit cards went down for a little while, things like that.
“I think that’s normal, to be expected, when you completely gut and redo a facility like this. I’m pleased with the way operations of things have gone so far.”
Garfinkel said the fan feedback was positive. Long lines were not an issue — and that was without all the concession stands still not open.
And most importantly, the guy footing the bill was pleased. Owner Stephen Ross, who is paying for the vast majority of the two-year, $425 million project, was on-hand to see what his money bought him.
“It’s good to get fresh eyes on it,” Garfinkel said. “He pointed out some things that we can do better. But he was thrilled with the result. He’s still set on, when the canopy and the video boards go in and we get it really complete, he’s telling people, wait till you see it next year. Wait till you see it next year. I think he’s excited. Excited to see the fans and talk to the fans and hear their reaction as well.”
Of course, some things were beyond the team’s control — most specifically, the weather. Intermittent downpours send the fans scurrying for the concourse.
This time next year, they won’t feel a drop.
“We’re going to put a canopy on this thing,” Garfinkel said. “I think [Saturday] is a perfect example of why that’s important. If we had the canopy on right now, people would be dry all night. The players wouldn’t, but the fans would. That’s one of the reasons were putting it on. That canopy next year, we won’t have this problem with the rain.”
DARR GETS CHANCE
Everyone has focused on the kicking competition this summer. Maybe we should be more worried about the punters.
Matt Darr might just unseat Brandon Fields. He got several opportunities in the first half — including on the team’s second punt of the game.
Unfortunately for him, he had to wait a while to show what he had. The normally reliable John Denney short-hopped the snap on Darr’s first try, and Darr couldn’t get off the kick before Atlanta’s special teams swarmed.
Darr had punts of 58 and 55 yards on his next two tries, and the Dolphins might have a decision to make. Miami would gain $1 million in cap relief by cutting Fields.
THIS AND THAT
▪ The Dolphins’ defensive line was excellent. At this point, that’s not really news.
Who was leading the charge, however, was noteworthy. Earl Mitchell was a beast. In the first quarter alone, Mitchell recorded three tackles — including two for loss — and a sack.
Mitchell is bound to get plenty of opportunities this season with Ndamukong Suh commanding regular double teams.
The Dolphins’ top defenders in general were excellent, holding Atlanta to just 2.9 yards per play in the first half.
▪ Dolphins players who did not dress: WR DeVante Parker; CB Jamar Taylor; LB Demitrius Bronson; LB Jordan Tripp; T Branden Albert; and T Jason Fox.
▪ Starting lineup changes: OT Dallas Thomas for Albert; OG Jamil Douglas for Thomas; LB Koa Misi for Chris McCain; LB Kelvin Sheppard for Misi; and CB Brice McCain for Taylor.