The Miami Dolphins exceeded expectations in 2019, winning five games despite pundits describing the team as the worst club to ever play the game. The team, largely considered to be “Tanking for Tua,” was competitive for much of the season, and put together some well played games at the end of the year, winning three of their last five games, and all five wins came over the last nine weeks. Miami ended the season strong and will now look to carry that over into the start of the 2020 season.
But, can it carry over? How much “momentum” carries from season to season? “I don’t think any, to be honest with you,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said this week. “I think 2019 is in the past and every year is a little bit different. This year is no different from that standpoint. The things that happened a year ago – good or bad – we’re just kind of focused on getting better each and every day. Last year is last year. (We’re) just trying to improve and get better, build some team chemistry and learn and grow as a team right now. I’m not really worried about anything that happened a year ago.”
The year-to-year changes include how training camp is run, where the emphasis is placed, and how coaching and personnel changes from the offseason need to be reflected in the practice plans. “Yeah, I think every year, it’s different,” Flores said of his training camp plan. “To set a script in one year and think that you’re just going to copy and paste it into the next year, that’s – because of different players, different coaches, just different things that you’re doing as a team. I think on a daily basis, you’ve got to be able to change, adapt and be flexible the same way you’re going to want your team to be able to adapt and be flexible within the game; so yeah, they change. The scripts change. The daily practice schedules change and obviously this year, everything is a little bit different, so anyone who’s setting a specific training camp schedule or practice, this year is definitely different, so we’re all going to have to adapt.”
This year, the league removed the preseason games from the schedule as part of the NFL’s precautions for the coronavirus. To make up for the lack of offseason training, teams have had a deliberate “acclimatization” period to start camp, with a heavy focus on strength and conditioning work, without any on-field practices yet. The team will get to start on-field practices, including wearing helmets, on Wednesday. This “gradual ramp-up” period, which begins with 90-minute practices and two-hour walk-throughs and slowly moves to two-hour practices and 90-minute walk-throughs, continues until August 16. The “contact integration period” begins on August 17, with full padded practices allowed.