How you view this past Miami Dolphins’ football season will tell you a lot about who you are as a person.
Are you an optimist?
Then you will be overjoyed that your hometown team won 11 games, the most victories for the Dolphins in fifteen freaking years. You were thrilled that you got to see the Dolphins’ high octane offense break all kinds of franchise records. They scored 70 points in a single game. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill broke his own team record with 1,799 receiving yards, the seventh most in NFL history. Running back Raheem Mostert led the NFL with the most touchdowns. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards. Even more amazingly, Tua played every game this season.
If you’re a pessimist however there was also a perspective to see the glass as half filled for the 2023 Dolphins season. You could say their winning record was due to a preposterously easy schedule. The Dolphins went 10-1 against losing teams, and the only six times they played teams with winning records they went 1-5. The Dolphins had the chance to clinch home field advantage through the playoffs. But they lost three of their final five games. Against serious opponents they seemingly always backed down.
If you’re a cynic you might add this is a deeply unserious team. One more concerned with choreographing touchdown celebrations and their close-ups on the HBO series Hard Knocks, than doing the little things that could be the difference between winning and losing.
But now it’s the playoffs and the Miami Dolphins have the opportunity to shut up all the doubters and reward the believers.
Saturday night they start their postseason journey in the most difficult manner imaginable. In the last fifty years the Dolphins have played 12 road playoff games, going 1-11 in that time. We’re a warm weather team that does not historically do well in the cold weather. For Saturday’s night’s game not only are they playing the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs but they have to do so in Arctic conditions. It is reported with wind chill it will feel like -30 degrees in Kansas City during game time.
For this Miami boy 30 degrees is unimaginably cold. As I type this it’s 70 degrees in Miami. How the hell are you supposed to prepare for a one hundred degree difference? The ball is so much harder to catch. The turf is going to hurt even more when you fall on it. Your lungs are going to burn when you run.
The Chiefs will have to play in the same uninhabitable conditions, but they at least have some experience doing so. Dolphins’ star wide receiver Tyreek Hill spent the first six years of his career playing for Kansas City, so he might be able to acclimate. But he’s been in Miami for two years and the warm weather gets you soft towards the cold very quickly.
But I’m trying to be an optimist. The last few month of the season The Dolphins have seemed to get away from their fast paced passing game. Their defense has been gritty at the goal line, stopping teams from scoring. They’ve leaned much more on the running game. Those seem to be the ingredients to a victory in conditions where throwing and catching the ball will be so much more difficult.
Maybe these hellish temperatures are what’s needed for a January miracle for Dolphin fans.