Miami Dolphins

Dolphins: Field was safe for football, but not ‘up to the standard we expect’

Miami Dolphins Reshad Jones (20) tackles a New York Jets player Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Miami Dolphins Reshad Jones (20) tackles a New York Jets player Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Two games in as many days may have been one too many for Hard Rock Stadium’s playing surface.

The field, re-sodded in recent days and chewed up by the end of the Syracuse-Miami Saturday night, was a mess Sunday. So much so that Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan called it “not suitable” for football during Fox’s halftime show Sunday.

However that is simply not true, the NFL suggested when it told the Miami Herald late Sunday that “the field was tested both during the week and again this morning, as per NFL policy, and was certified as in compliance with league standards.”

Here is the NFL’s policy:

Hard Rock, like all fields, needs to pass an impact hardness test within 72 hours prior to kickoff, with testing done early enough to allow for remediation, if needed. The league also tests soil moisture.

And since there was a game Saturday night, then soil moisture content measurement and impact hardness certification had to occur after the event and prior Sunday’s game.

Hard Rock Stadium obviously passed all of these tests, because the game was played.

Still, the footing was poor enough to affect the game — and frustrate some players.

The common criticism inside the Dolphins’ locker room was that, outside of the numbers, the field was “trash.” Jay Ajayi slipped a number of times trying to cut.

“The field today was safe to play on, but was not up to the standard we expect from a playability standpoint,” the team said in a statement. “It was a new field for this game that was put in earlier in the week. We’re working to rectify the situation and expect better conditions moving forward.”

Jets coach Todd Bowles called the field “a little boggy,” but added that there was no competitive disadvantage since each team had to play on it.

Hard Rock Stadium’s field has been criticized for weeks now; while this was only the Dolphins’ second home game of the season, the Miami Hurricanes have played here three times. The field was in bad shape by the end of UM-Georgia Tech on Oct. 14, and a particularly wet month has not helped matters.

Plus, it is really difficult to grow grass in the shade, with the grass getting direct sunlight just a few hours a day — if that.

The team is aware the turf is not holding as well as it did in the past and plans to spend the money it takes to fix the problem.

The structural integrity of the field was likely better than how it looked aesthetically, as evidenced by the fact that no one got injured because of the playing surface Sunday.

The Canes and Dolphins play on consecutive days two more times this season — the weekends of Nov. 4-5 and Nov. 18-19.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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