MIAMI GARDENS — Patrick Hammer knows what Tua Tagovailoa is in for.
Hammer is the chief meteorologist at WGRZ-TV in Buffalo.
And, like Tua, he’s lived in Hawaii.
“During the game, snow is expected to develop and it could be heavy at times,” Hammer told the Palm Beach Post this week. “Temperatures will be in the 20s, which quite frankly is not terribly cold, but it will feel arctic compared to South Florida. Also, with the wind, windchill values will be in the teens.”
It’s an incredible challenge for the Dolphins to upset the Bills, ranked 4th in the NFL in offensive scoring, 2nd in defensive scoring and 1st in last-place-you’d-want-to-be-in-December.
But on Saturday night (8:15, NFL Network), Miami will give it their best shot. With, yes, a Hawaiian-born quarterback with an 0-3 record in terrible-weather games. The weatherman with Hawaiian ties has some advice.
“I know the transition Tua is in for,” Hammer said. “I suggest layers if possible. Whereas we know he’s played in Buffalo cold before, Saturday will be a totally different animal.”
The Dolphins have lost two straight and they are a tired bunch, having returned from the West Coast to a short week of very light practices. But if they want to win the AFC East, they’ll probably have to win at Buffalo.
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The Dolphins are 3-7 all-time when the kickoff temperature 23 or colder.
The three worst statistical games of Tua’s career were in the cold. He struggled at Tennessee in 2021 and at Buffalo and Denver in 2020.
In the offeseason, Tua flew to Maryland and threw passes in the snow.
“It felt really good throwing it while it was snowing,” Tua said. “I don’t know. I can’t give anything more than that. I didn’t feel any effects of throwing in the snow.”
Will there be 7 inches of snow?
In Western New York, winds may be between 12 to 15 miles per hour, or stronger.
Snow accumulation predictions have been escalated to a foot or even more. Earlier this week, they were in the 1-to-7 inch range.
Due to what’s called “lake-effect” storm, snow could be harsh and erratic.
While coaching for Buffalo against Indianapolis, Miami special teams coach Danny Crossman experienced it.
“Pregame there was no snow until about 20 minutes before game time,” Crossman recalled. “And then we ended up playing in about eight inches.”
The Dolphins are trying to not obsess about the cold and wind and snow, except they kind of are.
Miami wants to be mentally prepared for it. They’re hoping they can limit the effects with psychology.
Coach Mike McDaniel and some players have worn a T-Shirt that reads: “I wish it were colder.”
In the locker room hung a sign that read: “Let it snow.”
Said Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who has never played in snow: “I’m excited. It’s going to be like a winter wonderland.”
Asked if he plans to pack extra socks or change his uniform at halftime, Jaylen “Penguin” Waddle said nope.
“Competitive spirit,” Waddle said. “Shoot, that’s what I’m going to bring.”
Tagovailoa was asked at least five questions about the cold and snow this week.
McDaniel was asked at least five questions about the cold and snow this week.
Said Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen: “We have the edge because we know how to function in this type of weather.”
Allen is tall and strong and has a cannon arm. We’ll see how much that helps on Saturday night.
Yes, Tua has seen snow
Tagovailoa says he has seen snow before.
“It snows in Alabama, guys,” Tua said with a smile.
Buffalo fans raced to research historical snowfall totals in Tuscaloosa and Orchard Park.
Linebacker Bradley Chubb has cold-weather experience in Denver. Chubb said he’ll wear four layers of shirts. He’ll apply Vaseline to his arms. He’ll use heat warmers and foot warmers.
And Chubb said he’ll wear hospital gloves under his regular game gear.
“That’s all I got,” Chubb said.
Tagovailoa has no plan to wear scuba gear under his uniform, as Tom Brady once did.
Tua did say he’s got plenty of experience in very cold tubs.
Talk about it or don’t? Think about it or don’t?
The Dolphins seem to have two really difficult opponents on Saturday night: The Buffalo Bills. And Mother Nature.
“I think that’s something that you have to be real and upfront that, ‘hey, it’s going to be cold,’ but it’s also something that no one cares,” McDaniel said. “The box score doesn’t read, ‘asterisk, it was cold.’ So it is what it is.
“If we’re trying to win a divisional game, we’re going to have to deal with elements and that comes with a mindset and just everyone’s going to be experiencing the same temperature. So I don’t plan on using that as an excuse in the slightest.”
Joe Schad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org