Miami Dolphins Stars Discuss Challenges of Facing New England Patriots Without Fans in Stands

Ryan Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are preparing for their first game of the 2020 NFL season. It will also be their first game playing in an empty stadium.

While the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium is known as one of the toughest places to play under normal circumstances, the stands will be empty on Sunday. That is of course due to the novel coronavirus.

Now, with mere hours left before kickoff, Dolphins players are opening up about what they’re expecting when they take the field in front of thousands of empty seats.

“No fans, fake crowd noise, so how’s that going to play into it?” starting quarterback and veteran leader Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “There’s some unknowns going into this game that haven’t existed in the past that both teams will have to deal with and feel out. There’s going to be some interesting story lines and things there that we’ll have to figure out.”

Safety Bobby McCain is taking a lunch pail approach, saying that no matter the circumstances, the Dolphins have a job to do in every game.

“At the end of the day, we’ve also got a job to do and regardless if there are 60,000 fans, 20,000 fans or zero fans, it doesn’t matter,” said McCain. “You’ve still got to get the job done and you’ve still got to win football games. It will definitely be different.”

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux will respond to the lack of energy in the stands by trying to create energy of his own on the field.

“It will be crazy like going into New England on Sunday and seeing the game without no fans,” Godchaux said. “It’s going to be crazy. But you’ve got to bring your own energy. That’s what – fans or no fans, I think each and every game, guys will have to bring their own juice.”

As for linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who left the Patriots to sign with the Dolphins this past offseason, he’ll likely miss out on a chorus of boos that he would have gotten from Patriots fans if the stands were able to be packed. Instead, he’s interested in how a lack of fans will ultimately negate any home-field advantage.

“You’re going to find out it’s the team versus the team,” Van Noy said. “There’s no real home-field advantage.”

Beyond that, he seems confident that fans watching the game at home will actually get a unique experience.

“I think it’s going to be a cool experience,” Van Noy said. “I don’t think people are looking at it the way that I’ve been looking at it. I’ve been looking at it as the fans get a close, inside look at what guys on the field are communicating, trash-talking… I think the smacking is going to be louder, the trash-talking is going to be right there in prime television. I think it’s going to be a good atmosphere.”

Ultimately, what matters most is that the Dolphins get the win. If they can beat the Patriots in Week 1, they will make a major statement to start out the 2020 season.

While there won’t be any fans watching from the stands, there will surely be tens of thousands watching from the comfort of their own homes all across South Florida.