Owners of a 3-7 record over their last 10 trips to Miami, the New England Patriots have decided to change things up a bit ahead of this year’s regular season opener against the Dolphins. Instead of flying to Florida on the day before the game, as is tradition, they are traveling on Tuesday — five days before the contest.
The reasons for the early flight down to Miami is quickly found: the conditions, and the Patriots’ desire to acclimatize as well as possible. The heat will play a factor on Sunday, after all, with temperatures currently projected in the high 80s and humidity at around 70 percent.
Whether or not head coach Bill Belichick’s uncharacteristic approach leads to satisfactory results remains to be seen. His Dolphins counterpart, Mike McDaniel, does not think it will be the sole reason for the outcome of Sunday’s game.
“I have been in the league for an extensive period of time and been under different head coaches, so I feel like I’ve tried a lot of different things. Whether it’s correlation or causation, I think my personal philosophy is you fit it to the needs of your team,” McDaniel told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think that this has been, like, kind of his mode of operation — Coach Belichick’s — in years past. So, clearly he feels like it’s important for this team.
“There’s compounding variables and I don’t think it will be the reason they win or lose. It will just be a contributing factor to either. So, that’s kind of the way I look at stuff generally ... There’s a bunch of different avenues that coaches go, and you know what, they’re always right when they win, and it’s up to debate if they lose, so I think that will be the same moving forward with this game.”
The Patriots have had exposure to heat throughout the summer. Conditions have been on the hotter side at times during their training camp in Foxborough, and they also held a set of joint practices plus a preseason contest in Las Vegas last month.
Nonetheless, the team’s heat exposure is minimal compared to what the Dolphins encounter on a daily basis. From that perspective, it makes sense that Belichick decided to fly to South Beach as early as possible — something also mentioned by McDaniel.
“I think it all depends on the team and their situation,” he said. “I know certainly it makes sense from my standpoint, what Coach Belichick and the Patriots are doing, because it is very, very hot. I think that as much was relayed to us from the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach and team. They were like, ‘Whoa, this is different.’ It is. Whether that amounts to X, Y or Z, I think it’s just a part of it.
“As much as it’s awesome to feel comfortable with the heat, I know Coach Belichick will be saying, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter if we don’t execute our fundamental core principles.’ They could be really, really hot on Sunday, and if we don’t execute, is it going to matter how hot they are? So, it is a component, but to make it black and white, I don’t think myself nor Coach Belichick — I don’t want to speak for him, but I think that’s just a component that he’s trying to help his team get prepared for that game. But it’s not the entirety of it.”
The Patriots-Dolphins regular season opener is set for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.