TAMPA – Having lived in Florida long enough to have experienced a few hurricanes, I know that no matter the degree of the storm, what you strive for most in the wake of one is normalcy.
You want the plywood off your windows, you want your family photos back on the walls and you badly want to get back to the same old boring routine you were taking for granted before the storm came your way.
The Dolphins and Buccaneers, their players reassembled now after the threat of Hurricane Irma forced them to scatter like leaves blown in the wind, got their first dose of normalcy in at least a week on Wednesday.
For the Buccaneers, it was as close to a full dose of normalcy as anyone could hope for, their entire team back together, meeting and practicing at the team’s One Buc Place headquarters in Tampa just like always.
For the Dolphins, it wasn’t quite “business as normal’’ as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh put it. Instead of practicing in Miami, they were in Oxnard, California working out at a Dallas Cowboys training facility.
Since last Friday, when owner Stephen Ross evacuated the team en masse and foot the bill for it, that has been their home, so it was probably as close to normal as they could hope for, too.
The common denominator for both is that football has become a priority again. Not necessarily THE priority, but for a few hours at least now it is enough of a priority to serve as an escape.
“I know for me, football is a getaway from my everyday life,’’ Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “It’s my escape, even though it’s stressful at times because you’ve got to focus (and) your body is hurting.
“I mean, mentally you know nobody cares what you’re dealing with. They just want to see you perform. When you’ve got all that on your mind it gets stressful, but it’s still my getaway.’’
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, football has become Suh’s escape too. He flew into Oxnard on Monday to get a head start on preparation for the Dolphins game against the Chargers but also to regain that all-important sense of normalcy.
“I’ve been watching film the last couple days and we’ve had our first couple meetings here so it’s an opportunity to take my mind off a little bit of what’s going on back home in Florida,’’ he said.
Nothing will take the players’ minds off what’s happening in Florida completely. Too many lives have been turned inside out, possibly forever, for that to happen.
But another thing you quickly come to realize in the aftermath of a hurricane is that outside of the storm’s path of destruction, life goes on, and in the NFL that means games will be played on Sunday.
The league won’t wait for the Dolphins and Buccaneers to regain their focus. The players will have to do that on their own amid all the adversity, and that too was part of what Wednesday was all about.
It was a day devoted to getting back into the routine of football, a day in which the payers were reminded that this is one of those times when as difficult as it may be, they have to perform like the pros they are.
“I think our guys are handling it well,’’ Dolphins coach Gase said of the challenge. “When we got here, our guys seemed focused, ready to go. I think they’ve been itching. I think they’re just ready to play some football.’’
Isn’t everybody? Surely the players are. The fans, too. It’s an escape, after all. Even better, it’s a return to the routine they’ve grown comfortable with, a slice of normalcy in a world suddenly turned upside down.
Report- Dolphins shopping RB Kenyan Drake
With the Dolphins season spiraling downward and headed for an almost certain 1 – 15 or 0-16 finish, it’s not surprising that Miami is still looking to offload any players of value to other teams. And now, that may involve proven running back Kenyan Drake, who could be on the move before the trading deadline in two weeks.
NFL Network insider, Ian Rapoport, reported Thursday morning that the Dolphins are having conversations with multiple teams about the fourth-year back from Alabama:
Sources: The #Dolphins have had trade conversations with teams centered around RB Kenyan Drake, and the team has indicated they would trade him if the right offer presented itself. Drake, who has had no extension talks with Miami since camp, would welcome a new opportunity.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 17, 2019
Drake was finally going to be given an opportunity in 2019 to be the feature back in Miami’s backfield after having shared time a year ago with veteran Frank Gore and previously, with Jay Ajayi.
However, as it has been well documented, the Miami offense is a disaster under first-year coach Brian Flores, his new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea and their continued “yo-yo” games with quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Miami has only had the lead for a few minutes of one game (Chargers) in their five losses.
The offense has been so bad that Drake has only had 153 yards rushing in 5 games, while averaging 3.7 per carry. He has an additional 19 catches for 137 yards, but has yet to register a touchdown at all this season.
That lack of productivity is more of a byproduct of how bad the scheme and the talent around Drake is, especially when you consider did he had nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage and nine combined touchdowns rushing and receiving in 2018.
Drake scored one of the most famous TDs in franchise history on the “Miami Miracle” play by taking the final lateral and racing to the end zone, as they defeated the Patriots last December.
As Rappaport points out, Drake is in the final year of his rookie contract and their may be a team or two interested in giving the Dolphins a 6th or 7th round pick for him. Then again, teams may wait Miami out and see, if the Dolphins eventually just release Drake later this season.
Miami started second-year back Mark Walton in the Washington game last weekend, and also has third-year back Kalen Ballage that they could use if Drake is gone.
The former third-round pick out of Alabama does have tremendous versatility, including as a kickoff returner both with the Crimson Tide and in the NFL with the Dolphins. Drake has a career average of 24.9 yards per kickoff return but has only run one back this season for 15 yards.
Dolphins confirm no plan with QBs- go back to Fitzpatrick Sunday
If there was any hope that the Miami Dolphins have an actual plan to improve and perhaps win a game before the end of this season, fans have to be shaking their heads after another quarterback switch was made Wednesday.
Coach Brian Flores announced to the media prior to Wednesday’s practice that the team will go back to 36 year old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter when they play Buffalo Sunday:
Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at Buffalo on Sunday.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 16, 2019
Of course, this comes just seven days after Flores stood at the very same podium in Davie and told the media and the football world that the job would belong to a second-year quarterback, Josh Rosen, for the foreseeable future.
Then came Sunday, and Rosen had another shaky performance throwing two interceptions and was unable to get anything consistently go in on offense. That’s when Flores pulled the plug and put the veteran Fitzpatrick in for the fourth quarter, and he led to touchdown drives.
This included the Dolphins scoring in the final seconds and Flores elected to have Fitzpatrick pass for a two-point play and the win. However, much like the rest of the Miami season, the play fell apart, the ball hit the turf and the Redskins got their first win, 17 – 16.
We have repeatedly written the Fitzpatrick has no long-term future, as the Dolphins quarterback and especially after watching how horrible he and the offense were in the first two losses with the Ravens and the Patriots, the Dolphins should go to and stick with Rosen
Rosen actually looked decent in the two losses at Dallas and at home with the Chargers. Then, Miami came off the bye week to play the Redskins, who have been equally as poor this season.
The move back to Fitzpatrick has to signal to the Miami locker room that Flores and offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, simply don’t know what to do to get consistent play out of the position and the offense as a whole. And further, they can’t be believed on sticking with any plan for the remaining 11 games this year.
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