Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. The bye week has its advantages, certainly; but so far this season, teams coming off the week's rest are only 6-4. Last season, teams coming off the bye were 14-22 (playoffs included). Since 2003, the Dolphins are 8-9 off of a bye and only 12 teams win at a clip of 60 percent or better during that span.
Now, for the advantages.
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores divulged the opportunity provided by not having a game on Sunday for him, his staff and his players.
"I think it's a time to rest, it's a time to self-reflect on the first six weeks of the season," Flores said. "What are we doing well? What are we not doing well? Do we need to play somebody more or less? Things that could potentially help our team. That's kind of what we'll use this week as, as well as taking some time to rest and get away from football and recharge and see our families and things like that as well."
Safety Eric Rowe reflected on his year-and-a-half as a Miami Dolphin two weeks ago on Drive Time with Travis Wingfield. In that episode, he discussed coming off the bye last year, the team playing a tight game against Washington and then taking a late lead in Buffalo in Week 7.
"The Bills game, we took the lead, and I think kind of from there people started believing that the work we were putting in practice, in meetings, off the field, it's working," Rowe said. "The week helped us kind of come together as a team and really buy in."
Refreshed and Revitalized
Like Rowe, veteran Dolphins offensive tackle Jesse Davis knows the value of the bye week. It's not just the physical recovery that Davis readily anticipates, but the mental decompress that he most appreciates.
"Recharging the batteries is the best way I can put it," Davis said. "Getting away from the facility and football for a little bit, now we're coming back more energized."
"I think Wednesday was one of the best practices we've had," he added. "The energy level, the scout team giving a great look and the quarterbacks putting the ball on the money. I think that was a good spot for the bye week."
The bye week is not created equally for all players. Running back Myles Gaskin, in just his second year as a pro, was itching to get back to it. Just as Dolphins fans all over the country took the opportunity to take in some other games, watching other backs produce yards and touchdowns stoked inspiration for Gaskin.
"I think it made me a little more hungry watching everybody else play," Gaskin said. "Watching other people do good out there was inspiring, motivating."
Though he did acknowledge the benefit of resting his body and working the physical kinks out, Gaskin was mostly excited to get back around his teammates.
"You get to rest your body and get some of the kinks out," he said. "I'm just excited to be back in the building, back with the guys. It's weird. With COVID, away from the building, you don't really want to be around anybody, so I was kind of excited to be back here more so than years in the past."
A rookie last year, Gaskin worked his way from gameday inactive, to backup running back and now the team leader in carries and rushing yards.
"Even when have a few days off, I come in and just do some stuff and Myles is on the field doing ladder drills, running," Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said. "He's a guy that does way more than what they ask him."
Gaskin is just one example of the type of players Flores and General Manager Chris Grier are looking for. His tireless work habits are encouraging for a variety of reasons, but two in particular. One, his improvement from Year 1 to this season has yielded more production out of the running back position. And two, Gaskin is a microcosm for the other acquisitions made on this roster since the Flores-Grier pairing materialized.
One of those acquisitions is Robert Hunt, one of three rookies on the offensive line. Recently, veteran center Ted Karras acknowledged the ego-less, hungry mindset of Hunt, Solomon Kindley and Austin Jackson along the line.
"(The rookies are) great men that want to do the right things, are eager to learn and, I guess, 'ego-less' in trying to get better," Karras said. "Obviously a very, very talented group – all highly drafted – and guys that came in and just want to listen and work and do the right thing and help the team win in any way they can."
Today, Hunt revealed how he spent his bye week.
"I was here," Hunt said. "A lot of guys were here getting workouts in. Just staying proactive on your body and working on things I think I needed to work on myself personally."
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will make his first career start Sunday against the Rams. When he does, he'll be the seventh rookie in team history to do so, joining Ryan Tannehill (2012), John Beck (2007), Dan Marino (1983), David Woodley (1980), Bob Griese (1967) and Rick Norton (1966).
Jesse Davis concludes our look around the bye week with an observation during his scheduled time off.
"He's cool and comfortable in the pocket," Davis said of Tagovailoa. "He's confident in the huddle. I walked in here on the bye week and he's in the quarterback room watching tape and studying. That was very pleasing to see."
Gaskin confirmed Davis' take on the rookie's level of comfort heading into his first start.
"I think he's getting more comfortable with the role now that it's his," Gaskin said. "He's stepping up, communicating a lot, so he's doing everything you want to see out of an NFL quarterback. I think (Ryan) Fitzpatrick has taught him a lot and you see that trickledown effect."
Finally, we get some perspective from a guy that sees Tagovailoa every day from the defensive perspective.
"He looks good," Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones said. "He's zipping the ball, he looks confident. It's cool to see young guys play well and I think he's one of those guys. He's learning a lot from Fitzpatrick and putting it to good use."
Their Seventh Rodeo
Sunday is a new experience for the Dolphins quarterback, but it'll be the seventh look at this 2020 Miami secondary. Opposing passing attacks have not surpassed 150 net passing yards in the last two games, a product of the unit rounding in to form, according to Jones.
"We're starting to build a chemistry as a secondary," Jones said. "The young guys are getting up to speed but it's nice to be out there with the vets. We're communicating a lot better and that's a plus to have the vets out there for that."
Jones knows their communication will be tested against an offense that uses motion at the second-highest clip in the NFL behind only the San Francisco 49ers.
"One of the biggest components to an offense like this is communicating offense pre-snap," Jones said. So, understanding where the motions can come from and how that changes our defense. It's about being on the same page because they have different snap counts, different shift and motions. We have to communicate pre-snap as opposed to when the ball is being snapped."
Thursday Injury Report
Two Dolphins did not practice on Thursday: Wide receivers Jakeem Grant (illness) and Lynn Bowden Jr. (not injury related).
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee was limited with a hand injury on Thursday.
For the rest of the Dolphins-Rams injury report, click here.