DAVIE, Fla. — Kenny Stills’ actions Monday were the perfect microcosm of where the Miami Dolphins are right now.
A day after he kneeled for the national anthem and later dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass in a 12-10 loss to Seattle, Stills stood in the locker room — his hands cradling a football the entire time — and spoke of a need for societal change. When done talking, he went out to the empty practice field and starting tossing that ball in the air to himself.
His message on both fronts was simple: Things have to get better.
Back home after an all-night flight from Seattle, the Dolphins started the process Monday of figuring out what needs to get better on the field to have a chance at New England this weekend. There’s also a process to decide what the Dolphins will do just before that game and if some players — Stills included — will again kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
“It’s something that we’re going to continue to discuss, the guys that have made a statement,” said Stills, adding that a league-wide group text-messaging session was held among players to gauge what could and should be done after San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines by sitting during the anthem during a preseason game. “I guess we’ll see next week.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he supported Stills, running back Arian Foster, outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins and free safety Michael Thomas deciding to kneel during the anthem on Sunday, one of many protests undertaken by pro athletes in recent weeks. The protests have not gone without controversy, with supermodel Kate Upton among those condemning the move by the Miami players. Upton lauded Seattle’s players for all linking arms during the anthem.
Stills said some Dolphins spent a large part of the six-hour flight home taking part in what he described as a powerful conversation about what the protests mean. Some players would walk past and enter the conversation, some were sleeping and some were in it the whole time.
“We want people to understand where we’re coming from, we want to understand where other people are coming from,” Stills said. “There’s no disrespect, there’s no hard feelings, there’s no hatred, there’s none of that. As adults, we should all be able to do that.”
Dolphins coach Adam Gase doesn’t view it as a distraction.
“Everybody believes in different stuff,” Gase said. “But that’s the great thing about this building. Once we do this, we’re after one thing: winning. All that other stuff goes away.”
The mistakes were many against the Seahawks.
Stills dropped what would have been a 71-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill early in the second quarter on Sunday. The Dolphins had a chip-shot field goal blocked, let Tannehill get sacked five times, converted only three of 14 third-down chances and allowed a hobbled Russell Wilson engineer a 14-play, 75-yard drive in the final 4 minutes for the winning score.
Week 2 isn’t must-win time, but the Patriots are the only AFC East team that won their opener. Should Miami lose on Sunday, it would already be two games back of the Patriots — who figure to only get better when they get suspended quarterback Tom Brady and injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, among others, back.
“I don’t think this one will be hard to get up for,” Gase said.
NOTES: RB Jay Ajayi, who was left home last weekend, was back in team meetings Monday. … Gase isn’t sure DE Mario Williams (concussion), C Mike Pouncey (hip) or DT Earl Mitchell (calf) will play Sunday. … WR DeVante Parker, sporting a Louisville T-shirt — his college team plays Florida State this weekend — believes his hamstring is good enough to allow him to play Sunday.