Bad luck or bad sod?
Perhaps both are to blame for Hard Rock Stadium’s field’s substandard condition.
And no matter what the team has tried, the problem has not been fixed.
It was chunky again Sunday night, when rain and games on back-to-back days ripped up a pitch that had been laid just days before.
Both Dolphins and Raiders players slipped repeatedly — it appeared to trip up Michael Thomas on the Marshawn Lynch touchdown that was ultimately the difference in the game — prompting CBS analyst Phil Simms to rip the surface on Inside the NFL.
“Did you watch the Sunday night game down in Miami?” Simms said. “You know, those are professional football players on the field. Did you see the field and conditions? It really bothered me. There are guys — Ndamukong Suh — there are players out there that really could have been hurt because of the condition of that field.... It really did bother me. In this day and age that you can’t have a great surface for all these guys? I thought that they were lucky somebody didn’t get hurt.”
Coach Adam Gase, asked about the turf in his Thursday news conference, said he expects the field to be better by the Dolphins’ Nov. 19 home game against the Buccaneers.
“Those guys are working hard to make sure that we kind of get this thing squared away,” Gase said. “There are a couple of things that just kind of occurred that it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. Hopefully, we’ll have this thing fixed by the next time we play at home. We feel good about the direction we’re heading and what we have lined up. I think [team CEO Tom Garfinkel has] really been on this thing. I know it bothers him because he wants everything perfect to give us the best chance to win.”
A number of factors are working against the Dolphins here:
1. It seems that the skies open up either during or just before their home games, slopping things up. It happened again during pre-game introductions Sunday, which Gase thought was part of a pre-planned exhibition.
2. The Dolphins and Hurricanes keep playing games on consecutive days. Sunday was the second time this season that has happened, and Hard Rock will host back-to-back games again the weekend of Nov. 18-19.
3. It’s really hard to grow grass with limited sun exposure. The canopy has been great for keeping fans dry and cool, but not for botanists.
The real fix might not come until the offseason. The Dolphins could request fewer back-to-backs (although some are inevitable) or research a different strain of grass that is more shade tolerant.
The easiest fix — going to field turf — seems untenable. The Dolphins play a ton of 1 p.m. games, and the rubberized surface could be just too hot in the summer months. Plus, Stephen Ross is all-in on using his facility for soccer as well as football, and the world’s best players would balk at playing on artificial turf.