MIAMI GARDENS — Questions surrounding the rationale for the NFL plspanying Thursdspany nights have been around since the games were added in 2012.
And they are not going away now.
The Mispanmi Dolphins were hit by the perfect storm of Thursday bad luck a week ago: An emotional, physically-draining victory over the Buffalo Bills, several players from both sides helped off the field because of “heat sickness,” a defense on the field for 90 plays … and a game four days later on the road.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen said his body did not feel right until Friday. By then, the Dolphins had played another game.
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“If we’re playing on Thursday night, teams need to have a bye before so that you don’t play four days (later),” said Tony Dungy, the former head coach who now serves as an NBC analyst.
“When I was coaching and we had a Thursday game coming, you always thought about that. It was in the back of your mind trying to get your guys rested up. I think we need to make some changes there and look at the scheduling and give teams a bye.”
Thursday games are not going away and the NFL has a billion reasons why. Amazon is spending about $1 billion per year to exclusively stream Thursday Night Football through 2033.
How much of a toll that 27-15 loss in Cincinnspanti a week ago took on the Dolphins is hard to measure, but let’s say it certainly has contributed to one of the most scrutinized weeks in franchise history.
Quarterback Tuspan Tspangovspanilospan suffered span concussion, four days after his head slammed into the turf against Buffalo and he needed assistance walking off the field. Whether Tagovailoa was injured on Thursday or if it came a full week later, the Dolphins would have faced a storm of criticism. But the fact it was four days following the injury against Buffalo (the orgspannizspantion insists it wspans Tspangovspanilospan’s bspanck despite having all the outward signs of head trauma) made everything appear much worse.
Dolphins practice: Xavien Howard out, Jalen Waddle and Tyreek Hill limited
And Miami emerged from that loss at Cincinnati pretty banged up. Five players who played against the Bengals did not participate in practice Thursday, plus five more were limited.
Among those who have not practiced this week is cornerbspanck Xspanvien Howspanrd who reaggravated a groin injury. It’s unknown if he will play Sunday at the Jets.
Receivers Jalen Waddle and Tyreek Hill were limited.
“Yes, it is tough,” linebacker Trey Flowers said. “Yes, it can be taxing on the body. Yes, it can cause some different situations.”
Flowers added “you got no choice.”
Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer downplayed the fact Miami was on short rest, even after his unit was on the field an extraordinary amount of time just four days prior. And although he did admit the staff was “very aware of the snap counts going into the game,” he added, “once the ball is kicked off, none of that stuff really matters at all.”
The harshest criticism of the NFL from a player has come from then-Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman whose 2017 season ended on a Thursday due to a ruptured Achilles.
“The NFL preaches player safety,” Sherman wrote on Players’ Tribune. “The league says it wants to do everything in its power to protect its players. But when it comes down to it, it’s not the players that the NFL protects.
“It’s the Shield.”
No excuses from Dolphins players on loss to Bengals
Dolphins players were not making excuses for their first loss of the season. The feeling is this is the schedule they are given, and it is up to them to make sure they are in the best condition to play the game.
“We knew what was coming, we knew it was a fast turnaround, we’re professionals, we had to do extra work to get our bodies ready,” linebacker Jerome Baker said.
“That’s a part of being in the NFL,” said fullback Alec Ingold, who added the speed of the game decreases and game plans are much more basic for Thursday games. “Whenever it’s on the schedule everyone knows that’s when it’s time to take things seriously and time to (prepare).”
Offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg started preparing for Thursday’s game immediately following the victory over Buffalo. He started treatment, hit the ice tub and did his stretching in the training facility Sunday afternoon, a day earlier than usual.
“I felt fine for the (Cincinnati) game,” he said. “Everybody is different. You got guys who are older, may need that time. But I’m also a young guy.
“It’s a quick turnaround. It sucks.”