LOS ANGELES -- Last week at this time the Miami Dolphins were disappointed. Well, wait. Yes, there was disappointment but there was another feeling that ran throughout this football team when the NFL postponed their season opener.
Last week at this time the Miami Dolphins were angry.
They were angry a hurricane had washed out their scheduled regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were angry at the NFL for not moving the game to Thursday or Friday -- even if it had to be moved to some other venue and played in front of, well, nobody.
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They were angry the NFL’s decision to move the game back to their bye week Nov. 19 would mean they’d be forced to play 16 consecutive games.
I know this now. I know because a week of talking to folks within the organization -- my phone bill is going to be astronomical -- has made it clear the Dolphins wanted no part of losing that opener.
Oh, there has been no public pronouncement of this ANGER.
Privately, however, a couple of players I’ve spoken with think the NFL is, well, you decide ...
“[Screw] the NFL, man,” one player told me. “All those people up there care about is money. That’s it...”
A week after the fact, and with no recourse but to adjust, the Dolphins have moved on.
But I think it’s important to chronicle the truth of how the coaches and players and others within the organization felt when the NFL decided to move the opener instead of play it in South Florida or elsewhere.
Even as the focus is now playing the Los Angeles Chargers, you’ve heard small hints of discontent from players and coaches at what happened last week -- at what they view as a slight of them by the NFL.
“We were ready to play. We were ready to play Thursday or Friday, so the guys were locked in,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “Our game plan was ready to go. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to play it.”
Having the game postponed suddenly like that was an emotional letdown for the Dolphins. I did not realize how emotionally ramped up these guys get as the days draw closer to the game. Yes, I know their preparation comes together and they are emotionally charged on game day.
But that charge is incremental. It doesn’t just happen. It builds. These guys build up to it the week prior to the game.
And the Dolphins had that build up and then ... nothing.
“Personally, it was a little more of the emotional, like building that readiness to get going for Sunday,” said defensive coordinator Matt Burke. “Opening week’s kind of a special day. You know it is. Everyone around the league is playing and it kind of has that ... it carries that weight. So that for me was really the hard part.”
Said coach Adam Gase: “You know last week it was we were preparing and then it wasn’t there. It will be exciting for our guys to just finally stop practicing and play a game.”
The Dolphins this week have decided to take the high road on their situation. They’re talking about what an advantage it is to see the opponent play a regular-season game while they’ve remained behind the curtains. Gase early in the week defiantly spoke of the Dolphins making their own bye week in the face of losing the scheduled bye to the hurricane because of the NFL’s decision not to relocate the game.
It’s all presenting a good face about a tough circumstance. But it’s spin.
“It’s just another distraction, and we’re going to sell it as being ... It’ll be a positive,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “That’s this league. This league has curve balls all over the place. If you think everything is going to go smooth ... That has been kind of our selling point that I think it’ll end up in the long run being a positive, that it’ll give us a toughness that we couldn’t get if everything went smoothly.
“I think it’ll give us a little togetherness that we’ve all kind of scrambled and pulled together and got out here and reassembled. Now we’ll spend a good four or five days out here together. I think there will be some positives in this thing. Who could measure them, but I really do think there’ll be a silver lining to this thing for us as a unit and as a team.”
That is true. It may all work out in the end. The adversity might indeed toughen the Dolphins.
But losing a chance to play last week? Losing their opener and their bye? Not relocating the game and playing Thursday or Friday elsewhere?
For the record, that left the Miami Dolphins disappointed and angry.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero