The cold weather in Buffalo isn’t going to decide Saturday’s Dolphins-Bills game. Let’s establish that up front. This cold weather thing is overstated and overrated.
That’s my opinion, and much more importantly, that’s what players say.
Low temperatures in Buffalo aren’t going to affect the 2022 Miami Dolphins any more than they affected the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Period.
Listen to Dolphins guard Michael Deiter, who grew up in Ohio and played college football at Wisconsin. He said the cold weather isn’t a big advantage.
“Maybe a little bit because you’re used to it, know what to expect,” he said. “But not much.”
And remember, just because you play for the Dolphins doesn’t mean you grew up in South Florida, played college football in South Florida, spent your entire life in South Florida, and haven’t ever been exposed to cold weather. That’s a ridiculous notion.
Most Dolphins players had played in cold weather by the time they reached the NFL, and many, such as receiver Tyreek Hill, a Florida native who spent his first six seasons in Kansas City, have years of cold-weather experience.
In fact, the majority of the players on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster — at least 33 — either grew up in a cold weather locale, played college football in one, or previously played NFL football for a cold-weather team.
No, that’s not the case for Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who grew up in Hawaii and played at Alabama. However, that’s not a big deal for Saturday’s game. It’s true Tagovailoa is 0-3 in cold-weather games (45 degrees or below at kickoff) in his career, but we should be careful not to confuse cause-and-effect with coincidence.
Now, if there’s high wind or heavy snow during the game, that’s different.
But temperatures in the 30s, or even the 20s, even with a couple of inches of snow, isn’t going to determine the game’s outcome. Let’s stop thinking that way.
Low temperatures, however, could get in players’ heads.
It’s tougher for rotational players to stay loose on the sideline, Deiter said. Exposed fingers get really cold. And you’ve got to remember to stay hydrated because even though you’re not hot, you’re still sweating and losing fluids.
Dolphins right guard Robert Hunt, a Texas native who played at Louisiana-Lafayette, said he’ll be ready. Hunt’s first cold-weather game was his rookie season, 2020, at Buffalo, a game the Dolphins lost, 56-26, in 35-degree weather.
Hunt, who was wearing a T-shirt Wednesday that read, ‘I wish it were colder,’ said he’s not concerned about the weather.
Yes, it’s true the Dolphins had heaters behind their bench last week at the Los Angeles Chargers game, where the temperature was 53 degrees at kickoff.
But there are no big concerns about cold weather.
Rookie cornerback Kader Kohou, a Texas native who played at Texas A&M-Commerce, said he once played a cold-weather game in Minnesota and there was snow on the ground.
“I was freezing,” Kohou recalled with a smile. “You’ve definitely got to get your mind prepared for it. Going out there it’s going to hurt a little bit more to hit. It’s just getting your mind right for it, but it’s nothing too crazy.”
Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert grew up in New Smyrna Beach, Fl., where he surfed as a youngster. Then he went to Purdue, a Big Ten school located in sometimes-frigid West Lafayette, Ind., to play college football.
“It was tough,” the speedy Mostert said, “but I made the transition and I was able to play under some crazy conditions. It was fun.”
Dolphins backup quarterback Skylar Thompson, who attended Kansas State, recalled a 2018 game against Texas Tech. It was played at K-State and temperatures were in the low 30s with winds blowing around 15 miles per hour. Thompson said he could tell during pregame warmups the Texas Tech players were worried about the cold weather. That was confirmed during the game, which Kansas State won, 21-6.
“I’m not going to say any name, but it was like the beginning of the fourth quarter, we were winning, and one of their linebackers tackled me and was like, ‘Man, can you guys run the ball? We’re trying to get out of here.’
“It’s a mentality. It’s just going into it and having a mental state where you’re not thinking about it.”
There’s another side of the story, too.
“Sometimes guys get up in the cold and it’s a little blast of energy,” Deiter said. “It’s fun, it’s exciting at the same time.”
Whatever happens Saturday night, take comfort in the knowledge it’s been a long time since a Dolphins game was decided by weather. That’s even the case for games in Buffalo, where the Dolphins are on a five-game losing streak.
And none of those Bills losses are attributable to cold weather.
“I don’t think it was something we were like, ‘Oh, it’s cold out here,’ ” said Hunt, who has been to Buffalo twice as a Dolphins player. “I don’t think guys were like that. I think it’s partly that [Buffalo] just had better days than the Dolphins.
“Hopefully that won’t be the case this time. We’re excited for this weekend.”