Hurricane Irma may force NFL to move or reschedule Buccaneers vs. Dolphins

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South Florida residents are no strangers to the omnipresent risk of inclement weather, but Hurricane Irma’s models are not looking promising for those staying on the United States East Coast. As reported by the Washington Post, those in the South Florida area should at least be on the alert for the chance of the hurrican disrupting their day-to-day lives, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Obvious concerns for general safety aside, the NFL is now facing a looming decision under the shadow of Irma. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins are slated for a Week 1 game at Hard Rock Stadium, and safety issues may force them to make a move on the game. Whether it’s a postponement or moving the game up, the league is going to need to do something if projections continue as they have been.

As for alternatives, both teams have a Week 11 bye. However, the bye week is such a valuable asset for any team, and the idea of playing 16 straight games is a daunting one, to put it mildly. Another option could be to move the game up to Thursday, Friday or Saturday, although the logistics of doing so would be extremely difficult. Arguably the final alternative would be to play somewhere neutral, such as New Orleans, Orlando or Jacksonville, but once again doing so at this point would be exceptionally difficult.

The Dolphins are in the unfortunate position of already losing one home game, as they face off against the New Orleans Saints in London on Oct. 1. Obviously a hurricane is a hurricane, but the idea of losing a pair of home games in one season is not one that would appeal to Dolphins’ leadership. Moving the game to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay is, more likely than not, a non-starter.

The Dolphins have moved games in the face of hurricanes before, as the Miami Herald points out. In 2004 the Dolphins played the Titans on a Saturday because of Hurricane Ivan, and the next year a game against the Chiefs was moved to a Friday due to Hurricane Wilma. The Dolphins are on a deadline if they do choose to move this game, and it seems like the most viable option given the other factors at play. Although it’s a frustrating situation, safety is paramount, although Dolphins head coach Adam Gase doesn’t seem overly thrilled with the situation (or the hypothetical scenarios it presents).

“It doesn’t matter what week it is,” Gase said during a news conference. “If they tell us they changed the game, we’ll just go with it.”