Each week, SB Nation asks each of the NFL team sites a question for us to answer, setting up a collection of similar stories on each site. This week’s question is, “The one thing I would change about my team's season is ... ” So, what is it for the Miami Dolphins?
The Dolphins have had a tough season. There is no other way to explain it - and yet they still, technically, have a chance at the playoffs. It has just been weird. One game, they dominate the New England Patriots. Another game, they are basically shut out by the New York Jets and cannot find a way to move the ball. One game, quarterback Jay Cutler looks like a Pro Bowl caliber passer. Another game, he throws three interceptions straight to the defense. One game, DeVante Parker is dominating as a true number on receiver. Another game, he cannot catch a cold.
It is a strange season for the Dolphins.
To answer this question, I added a rule to not change an injury. That does not seem to be in the spirit of the question to me. Sure, I would change Ryan Tannehill’s injury so that the offense could continue to grow from where it left off at the end of last year, but I did not want to go that route.
Instead, I am going to change an NFL decision.
According to multiple reports back before Week 1, the Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both asked the league to allow the teams to play their season opening game in a neutral field, rather than postpone it until the shared bye week in Week 11, to avoid the dangers of Hurricane Irma. The league decided that moving the game to the bye week was the best option. That should not have been the answer.
The Dolphins (and Buccaneers) had to play 16 straight weeks this season because of that decision. Miami had to move out to California and spend a week there before playing their Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Dolphins did not have a true home game until Week 5, having to play in London in Week 4, a game which counted as a home game.
The Dolphins and Buccaneers could have played that Week 1 game somewhere other than South Florida. They should have played it somewhere other than South Florida.
The league needs to learn from this. It should have considerations for hurricanes built into the system. That could be the ability to line up a neutral site where a team is not playing a home game, or the league could look to make sure an early game in the season for each of the Florida teams - the teams most likely to face hurricane issues - is scheduled against a division rival. For example, if the Dolphins have been scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 in Miami, the league could have then flipped the home-and-home series, allowing for the game to be played as scheduled, just in Buffalo, with the later half of the series switched to play in Miami.
Would the season be different if Miami had played Tampa Bay in Week 1, no matter where the game was played? Maybe not. But, the Dolphins had a clear competitive disadvantage this year, and that is a decision the league should never allow to be made.