DAVIE, Fla. -- Somehow, the Miami Dolphins fit a full season’s worth of adversity into the past couple of months.
It began in the summer with a rash of injuries that included losing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 2016 interception leader Tony Lippett for the season. It continued in Week 1 of the regular season when Hurricane Irma devastated the state of Florida and displaced the Dolphins for nine days on the West Coast.
Miami’s latest challenge? Avoiding jet lag.
This week the Dolphins will become the NFL’s only team to play three consecutive games in three different time zones. They logged 4,664 round-trip miles to play the Los Angeles Chargers in the Pacific time zone in Week 2, tacked on 2,168 miles to play the New York Jets in the Eastern time zone in Week 3 and will add 8,842 total miles going to London this weekend to play the New Orleans Saints.
Miami will lead the league in miles traveled (15,675) by a wide margin following Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium. The next closest team is the Saints (12,656), who will have traveled approximately 3,000 fewer miles when the two teams meet, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Dolphins saw this obstacle coming and began preparing months in advance when the NFL schedule was released in April. The team has its sports science division and nutritionist working together to give players the best chance to perform.
However, Dolphins coach Adam Gase hinted this week that perhaps not everyone is following the script as closely as they should.
“We’ve talked to the right people as far as how we want to sleep, nutrition, what we need to do to combat flying as much as we have so far,” Gase said. “It’s really about following what everybody is advising our players to do. It’s just whether or not guys want to do it that way. You can’t hold everybody’s hand.
“At some point you have to be a man and do it right and be a pro athlete. Guys that want to do it right are usually the ones that have success. The guys that don’t, don’t end up lasting very long.”
The Dolphins also will be the last NFL team to play a home game. Their first contest in Hard Rock Stadium will be Oct. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.
A case can be made that Miami (1-1) already looked road weary in last week’s 20-6 loss to the lowly Jets (1-2). This was a game the Dolphins were expected to win, but instead they came out flat. The Dolphins scored a touchdown on the final play as time expired to avoid further embarrassment and their first shutout defeat since Dec. 22, 2013.
History has proven London games can be tricky for NFL teams. Last week the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) provided a perfect example of how a quality, previously undefeated team can look completely different following the long trek overseas.
Baltimore was lambasted by the Jacksonville Jaguars 44-7. Afterward, Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear his team’s failure to adjust to the travel and time-zone changes played a factor. The team that handles this part of it best usually wins.
The good news is the Dolphins have plenty of experience going overseas. This will be their fourth trip to London, which is the second most behind the Jaguars (five games). Miami is 1-2 in its first three trips to Wembley Stadium.
Miami doesn’t plan on using its harsh travel schedule as an excuse.
“We just need to go back to doing us, playing our style of football,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. “I think we’ll be fine. ... No matter where you line the ball up, I think we’ll be ready to play.”