You may have heard by now that the Miami Dolphins are among the 14 teams in the NFL that released a statement via the NFLPA regarding the start of off-season work. It’s the players’ response to the NFL releasing its schedule for the NFL offseason to start April 19th. Although most of the plan is to be conducted ‘virtually’, beginning in May, there are also to be in-person OTA sessions to take place. In part, it states:
"“…..the Miami Dolphins stand in solidarity with players across the league who are making informed decisions to exercise their right to not attend voluntary in-person workouts this offseason.”"
It doesn’t actually state which Dolphins players, if any, will forgo the workouts so it may be ‘much ado about nothing. If it’s not, however, it’s both dumb and hypocritical for the players to take this stance.
First, let’s look at the “competitive disadvantage” that this would put the team at. While the Jets and Patriots are among the 14 teams, it’s the ones that aren’t listed that the team/fans should be more concerned with. Who cares if the Patriots and Jets do or don’t participate? Miami was looking down at them in the AFC East standings. The Bills, Titans, Ravens, and Colts are all teams the Dolphins were chasing for playoff spots in 2020. Miami cannot afford to fall even further behind these conference rivals.
Secondly, the team, and offense specifically, need all the reps they can get this offseason. Between wide receivers, Albert Wilson, and Allen Hurns returning, the offensive line once again being shuffled and the inclusion of the rookie class into the mix the Dolphins will have a lot of moving pieces that need all the mental and physical reps they can get.
Finally, we come to the ‘hypocrisy’ of why the players are stating they are choosing to skip the offseason. In the first part of the statement, it reads:
"“Our team came together to discuss the current situation regarding COVID-19 and the lack of clear and timely protocols put into place by the NFL,” Dolphins players said in a statement. “The most significant fact from that discussion was the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason. Last year, league-wide injury data showed players experienced a 23 percent reduction in missed time."
The “clear and timely protocols put into place” seems to be pretty similar to the ones they played the entire 2020 season under. There’s also the addition of a widely released COVID vaccine that’s available now that wasn’t four months ago.
I am sympathetic to players that are reluctant and skeptical of getting the vaccine; to a point. It’s a personal choice, and I respect that, but don’t give us the narrative that “players are very cautious/fastidious about what they put into their bodies.” If that’s the case, how come every time a player gets busted for PED use the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “I unknowingly took a banned substance in a supplement”?
As for the “23 percent reduction in missed time”? In totality, those numbers may be true but ask teams like the 49ers if they think there is a correlation between the lack of offseason/preseason and the 15+ players they had on IR in the 2020 season?
In the end, from the outside looking in, it looks like an excuse for veterans to justify not having to show up for the offseason and have to compete with rookies that are hungrier; if possibly not as talented.
Like I said earlier, in the case of the Dolphins, maybe the statement is merely a ‘show of support for select players of other teams that will skip the next 2-3 months of organized activities. If, however, the Dolphins decide to join the “call to (put down) arms”, it will negatively impact the team and reek havoc with head coach Brian Flores’ precious “team chemistry”; not to mention turning the tide of local fan support against players that are already seen as ‘entitled’ people getting paid millions of consumer dollars to play a game.