The NFL has postponed this weekend’s Dolphins-Buccaneers game to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma, the league announced Wednesday morning.
“Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida, the Miami Dolphins home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium, will instead be played there in Week 11 on Sunday, Nov. 19,” the league said in a written statement. “Week 11 was previously an open date for both clubs.
“The NFL announced yesterday that in the interest of public safety in light of the continuing state of emergency, the league, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, would not play an NFL game in South Florida this week,” the NFL continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the impacted area.”
The Dolphins and Buccaneers had hoped the league would find an alternative venue to play the game Sunday, but that plan apparently was deemed not viable.
By moving the date of the game, that means the Dolphins will play 16 straight weeks, beginning Sept. 17 against the Chargers, will open with three consecutive games away from Hard Rock Stadium and will have just two home games before Nov. 5.
If this scheduling scenario sounds familiar to some of their more seasoned fans, it should. The Dolphins in 1992 had their opener postponed by Hurricane Andrew. And yet they went 11-5 and won the AFC East.
Still, players from both teams affected publicly and privately expressed concern Tuesday about forgoing the bye. A regular complaint: The league claims it cares about player safety; this plan shows that’s not the case.
But Adam Gase will not allow that to be used as an excuse — even if it’s one of many the Dolphins could point to this year.
The schedule was always going to be difficult — it’s the league’s sixth-toughest, based on last year’s record — and a trip to London ensured the team would have just seven home games.
But the Dolphins just emerged from arguably its most damaging training camp ever. Three potential starters, including franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill, are out for the season, and a fourth (Ted Larsen) won’t play until November at the earliest.
That will be a concern for next week, however. The organization’s most pressing concern is that its employees, and the South Florida public at large, stay safe.
Since this is now the team’s bye week, Gase canceled practices through the weekend and many players were scrambling to get on a flight out of town. Others, meanwhile, have families and homes here and will try to ride out one of the most serious storms on record.
The team will practice early next week and then leave for Los Angeles next Thursday.
As for those with tickets to Sunday’s postponed game, those passes will be valid for the rescheduled game at Hard Rock, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Nov. 19. Also, the team has suspended its Hurricane Harvey donation drive as it prepares the stadium for the coming storm. The team also deflated its practice bubble Wednesday.
“Please take all necessary precautions to stay safe during the storm,” the team said in a statement. “The entire Dolphins organization wishes you the best during this important time.”