The only ‘bye’ week for the perfect 1972 Dolphins was between AFC title game and Super Bowl

So the NFL goes on without the Miami Dolphins this weekend.

It all begins tonight with Kansas City at New England, which provides a handy 7:30 p.m. deadline for getting those houses boarded up and bringing out a football feast of all the food that will spoil without electricity.

Seems like nothing ever gets down without a hard deadline, right?

Am I disappointed that the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be playing Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium? Sure, but that’s so far down the list of priorities right now that it’s almost silly.

Storm clouds forced the Dolphins to move practice in to the bubble at Dolphins training camp in Davie, Florida on August 6, 2016. Because of Hurricane Irma’s approach, the bubble has been deflated. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The Dolphins have already deflated their practice bubble at the practice facility in Davie, folks, and removed everything from the 100 and 300 levels of the stadium that wasn’t bolted down. Tables, chairs, portable vendor carts. Everything.

They’re not thinking football. They’re being smart, and we should be, too.

The storm will pass, though, and fans will begin to blame the rescheduling of the Bucs game for the November bye week as the reason that Miami isn’t having a great season. Oh, and you can be sure there will be grumbling from fans whose power and cable or satellite service get disrupted on Sunday when Irma comes calling and the rest of the NFL schedule goes unwatched around here.

Too bad. Life is not a fantasy and it’s does not revolve around fantasy leaguers.

Just to get ahead of the argument, though, when the sports-talk debate centers around the disadvantage Miami is under for losing the cushion of the bye week, here’s the common sense of it.

The Dolphins will have injuries all season, no matter what, just like every other team. They lost Ryan Tannehill before the first preseason game was played. They lost Raekwon McMillan and Tony Lippett, a couple of vital defenders, before this opening weekend of the regular season. There is no way to plan your way out of problems like this. They will come no matter what the schedule says and coach Adam Gase will have to deal with them when they do.

As it is, with Miami 0-0 and on hold until Sept. 17, there is lesser optimism that the team will challenge the Patriots for the division title or scramble to another wild-card playoff spot. That’s because of the injuries that already have happened, and it would be the same basic outlook even if Miami had gotten the chance to beat the Bucs on Sunday and jump to a 1-0 start.

Meanwhile, remember that the NFL didn’t always allow for a bye week in the 16-game schedule. That started in 1990.

There was a perfect Dolphins season 18 years prior to that, and a sturdy team that played 16 consecutive games in the process. Fourteen regular-season games, two playoff games and than a “bye” before the Super Bowl win that wrapped up a historic 17-0 run.

Bob Griese missed games to injury along the way, and so did others, but Miami proved itself to be the best team in the league just the same.

On Tuesday, before the NFL announced Miami vs. Tampa Bay would be rescheduled from the season opener to Nov. 19, Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry gave an honest answer to a question about the importance of the bye week.

“I think the stretch after our bye week is probably one of the toughest – if you want to be real about it – probably the toughest in the NFL,” Landry said. “That bye week will give us an opportunity to kind of get some guys healthy. In this NFL, in the league, you’re going to get banged up week in, week out. For us, that bye week, it comes at an appropriate time. For us, to keep it there would be huge.”

The post-Nov. 19 schedule truly is a bear, with games against Denver and Kansas City and, of course, two games with New England in the space of three weeks.

Give Landry credit, though, for following up that bye-week assessment with the kind of tough response that is needed in tough situations.

“I would play today if we could,” Landry said on Tuesday. ‘Obviously, again, that’s up to the team, the NFL, both organizations. If it is moved and we’ve got to play 16 weeks in a row, it’s something that we’ve got to do. We’re going to embrace the process, embrace the challenge and we’re going to make it happen.”

Schedules don’t make great seasons, in other words. Great talent combined with great coaching and great chemistry, that’s the only combination that ever works.

Be safe everybody.

[Lamar Jackson needs to knock down a ton of Heisman history to win trophy again]

[The two places in America where there is nothing but love for Jay Cutler]

[77-start string proves Ryan Tannehill is plenty tough enough to come back from injury]

 

 

The 1972 Dolphins put up entirely different stats in what was an entirely different game

Every now and again I pull out the box scores from the Miami Dolphins’ Super Bowl dynasty more than 40 years ago and marvel at how much the game has changed.

The perfect Dolphins of 1972, for instance, averaged 359.7 yards in total offense. That was tops in the NFL at the time but would have ranked 11th in the league last year.

Don Shula and Bob Griese. (Bill Reinke/The Miami News)

Bob Griese completed eight passes for 88 yards in Super Bowl VII, the game that completed that 17-0 season. Ryan Tannehill has been held under 100 yards passing three times in his 77 career starts.

The 1972 Dolphins had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, and that was in a 14-game regular season. Jay Ajayi was the only Miami rusher over 1,000 yards last year. Nobody else cleared 200, and that was over 17 regular-season games.

Don Shula’s No Name Defense allowed 10 touchdowns passing during the 1972 regular season and two during the playoffs. Last year’s Dolphins allowed 30 touchdowns passing and two long scoring bombs by Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter of their only postseason game.

Sure, almost everything about the NFL has changed. The game is more wide open now, more exciting.

Got to hand it to Shula, though, for finding a way to win across 26 seasons as the Dolphins head coach, and seven years with the Baltimore Colts before that. He made the transition from Zonk to Dan Marino., but here’s the most unexpected stat of all.

Johnny Unitas attempted 44 passes and threw for 288 yards in Shula’s first career victory. Marino threw it 35 times and totaled 290 yards in completions during Shula’s 347th and final career win.

Bottom line, Shula was better than bold. He was smart enough to let his best players win for him, however that needed to be.

[Here are the trap games for Seminoles, Hurricanes and Gators in 2017]  

[Jeffrey Loria says media should stop talking about Marlins sale]

[Astros and Nats could bring World Series buzz back to WPB next spring]

 

 

The Olympic gold medalist who played for the Miami Dolphins

With the Rio Games about to open and NFL training camps on full go, it’s time to ask if any player on the Miami Dolphins has ever competed in the Olympics?

Well, technically, the answer is yes, and it’s based on the determination that, technically, Jimmy Hines was ever a football player in the first place.

hinesHines won the gold medal in the 100-meter run at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Then he won gold again as a member of the U.S. 4X100 relay team. Spectacular sprint speed like that cannot be ignored, which led the Dolphins to take Hines in the sixth round of the 1968 combined NFL/AFL draft.

The franchise, in its third year of operation, was looking to promote its product at the time. That wasn’t so simple after opening seasons of 3-11 and 4-10. A curiosity like Hines was worth a shot if he sold a few tickets, or so thought Dolphins owner Joe Robbie and his player personnel man, Joe Thomas.

Also, Bob Hayes had the entire pro football industry thinking about the possibility of transforming track stars into wide receivers. Bullet Bob won the 100 at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys. He previously was a halfback on a state championship team in Jacksonville and got a football scholarship to Florida A&M so he wasn’t starting from scratch.

Hines was, and being in the spotlight with the Dolphins probably didn’t help his development.

The team assigned him No. 99 and sent him out to run pass routes for quarterbacks Bob Griese and Rick Norton. It must not have gone all that well based on the fact that Hines quickly gained the locker-room nickname of “Oops.”

He spent the 1968 season on Miami’s practice squad and played a little for coach George Wilson and the Dolphins in 1969 before moving on to a brief appearance with the Kansas City Chiefs and then out of the league for good.

There’s no need making fun of him, any more than there is making light of Herschel Walker for failing to medal as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic bobsled team. Every sport has its own particular skill set and they need not be interchangeable, no matter how amazing the athletes involved.

Here is the full list of plays involving Hines on Miami’s 3-10-1 team from 1969.

In Game 6, a loss at Kansas City’s old Municipal Stadium, he caught one pass from Griese for 1 yard.

In Game 7, a home win over Buffalo in the Orange Bowl, he returned a punt for 22 yards. That apparently was his one and only shot at taking the kick return job from another speedy rookie named Mercury Morris.

In Game 10, Hines had his finest day as an NFL receiver, hooking up with Norton on a 22-yard catch. The wind chill was 17 degrees in Buffalo that day, however, and the Dolphins lost 28-3, so there probably wasn’t much of a celebration.

Finally, in Game 11, Hines got his only NFL carry, a 7-yard rush in a home loss to Houston. Can’t find it in the records but it almost certainly was a reverse that didn’t develop into much.

We’ll never know what Don Shula would have made of Jimmy Hines. He came on as Miami’s coach in 1970 and never worked with the Olympic hero.

Shula did have some fun in later years, however, with Mark Duper, who finished seventh in the 200-meter run at the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials and reached the semifinals of the 100. Duper was added to the Dolphins Honor Roll in 2003, three years after Dan Marino, the quarterback who made the best use of all that blazing speed.

Hey, there were 17 rounds in the NFL/AFL draft the year that Miami took a flyer on Hines. There just wasn’t that much to lose.

Even now, if Usain Bolt showed any interest in trying football at the age of 29, it figures that some NFL team would give him a look.