Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins and their local fans have beef that requires patience to resolve

Miami Dolphins fans often travel to away games, like Atlanta last week, and are supportive. But the home crowd earlier this season booed their team.
Miami Dolphins fans often travel to away games, like Atlanta last week, and are supportive. But the home crowd earlier this season booed their team.

The Miami Dolphins home field advantage? Well, the last time the team played at home it was booed. During a game it won.

The starting quarterback heard fans basically calling for his benching before the first half was over. It was his first regular-season game at Hard Rock Stadium.

And days later, receiver Jarvis Landry called the home fans who wanted backup quarterback Matt Moore to replace Jay Cutler, “embarrassing.” But Landry didn’t stop there. He also said those fans were “disrespectful,”

“We don’t buy into the fans’, ‘Who do you want to play quarterback?’ “ Landry said. “I believe it’s disrespectful.”

So Landry doesn’t care for the opinion of those who wanted a quarterback change. And guess what?

Neither does the Dolphins head coach.

After that last home game -- the first and last time the Dolphins played at home this season -- Adam Gase effectively told his home fans and anyone else with an opinion that he doesn’t care about their judgment.

"I'll make the decision on the quarterback,” Gase growled. “We're not going to take public polls."

Yup, there’s quite a blossoming romance between the 2017 Dolphins and their fans right now.

So this has to stop. This crack in the relationship between some fan base and their team must be patched up before it becomes an issue that affect the Dolphins’ competitive advantage.

And here’s the news tidbit from all this: It’s arguably already an issue because multiple people I talk to within the Dolphins organization don’t consider themselves to have much of a home field advantage right now. And that is indeed a competitive disadvantage.

Some people within the organization view playing at Hard Rock Stadium as something only slightly more advantageous than playing on the road -- with much of that small advantage coming from the convenience of not having to travel for the game.

There’s more. A couple of players -- and admittedly I have not surveyed the entire roster -- do not like playing on the field at Hard Rock Stadium. They say the grass surface is bad. They say the footing is bad.

And, yes, it’s bad for both teams. But since only one team -- the Dolphins -- are scheduled for seven games there this season, players tell me they’re at a disadvantage.

Let’s start there. I have to tell you players don’t want to speak on the record about how bad the footing has been at Hard Rock since the preseason. The idea of criticizing one’s home field is not something they want to be associated with.

“I think the preseason we struggled a little bit,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “But at the end of the day I’ve seen all different kind of conditions and as a professional you have to be able to adjust and adapt. [Equipment manager] Joe Cimino and his staff do a great job to be prepared at any point and situation. I wouldn’t say it’s an issue from my standpoint let alone our team.”

For perspective you should know nothing bothers Suh. He said killer Hurricane Irma was not something he thought about once he was inside the Dolphins facility. He shrugged off the idea the team’s travel schedule early in the season was difficult. So he’s not going to say blades of grass upset him.

But it bothers other players.

The booing also bothered players last game.

One player told me he was “angry” fans booed after only one quarter of football at home this season. Someone else told me the players were “miserable.”

Again, no one wants to discuss this stuff publicly because players complaining about their own fans is a bad look. Maybe that’s the reason Cutler, the target of the booing last week, shrugged it off on Wednesday.

“We won the game. We won this past week, so we’ll be fine,” he said. “If they want to chant, they can chant. We have to give them a better product this week to root for.”

This week is important. The Dolphins host the New York Jets. In the past, Jets fans have been able to gather en masse at Hard Rock and cheer their team on while on the road. (Dolphins fans have been able to do similar at Met Life the last few years).

But I’m not talking about the fans who live in Iowa or New York or other parts of the country. Those people often travel to games and support the team on the road.

I’m talking to the fans in the general vicinity of Hard Rock Stadium. I’m talking about Miami’s Miami fans.

There’s beef between the Dolphins and you right now.

Yes, you pay to come watch your team. Yes, you are the reason these athletes make so much money. Yes, you are the customer.

But you are also one of several reasons the team doesn’t think it has much of a home field advantage. I’m not saying you should grin and bear it if the team struggles on Sunday against New York. I’m not saying you have no right to show your displeasure.

But you booed in the first quarter of this season’s first home game. How about a little patience? How about, you know, a little support?

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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