The season premier of the acclaimed HBO sports documentary Hard Knocks aired on Tuesday night, and while many fans were less than thrilled with the fact that this season’s featured team is the Miami Dolphins, the show did not disappoint.
Sure, the Dolphins are destined to finish in last place in the AFC East. And no, they do not have the big name recognition that many people look for when tuning in to seasons’ past. But regardless of whether or not you knew or cared about the players before, Hard Knocks gives you an inside look and almost helps cause a connection.
After one episode, we already learned a lot about the show, the Dolphins and the business of the teams in the league. Here are the top five things that I took away after watching the season premier.
1. The National Football League can be a harsh, cruel, unfair business. The toughest part of watching Hard Knocks can be seeing how difficult it is to break the news to a player that he is simply not good enough. Whether it is that he is not good enough to play for your team, or whether he is just not good enough to play in the league, it is hard to watch. The season premier was the toughest ever in terms of a cut, as the Dolphins were forced to cut Derrick Dennis before the first day of training camp. Watching that take place, especially after he already got his rookie hazing hair-do was sad. This is a business, and the players know that.
2. Joe Philbin is the anti Rex Ryan in so many ways. Rex would drop the F-bomb in every conversation, whether it was casually making a joke or angrily lambasting a player. Either way, he let it fly. Philbin is the polar opposite, at least in terms of the language he uses. The rookie head coach does not use salty language, and he expects the same from his players.
3. Chad Johnson needs to pretend he is still in New England, only with more production. Johnson cleaned up his act when he joined the New England Patriots, and it caused him to stick around for a whole season. His numbers were atrocious, but he remained with the team for one entire season without getting into any trouble. He says he silenced himself for that year, and now he is back to being Chad. That may sound good, at least in terms of being competent on the field, but Philbin already let him know that he may need to continue to clean up his act. Or at least his language.
4. Ryan Tannehill will become a franchise quarterback sooner rather than later. I admit that I felt Tannehill may have been overhyped leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. For a player who spent more time as a wide receiver than a quarterback at Texas A&M, he was being called the second coming of Dan Marino, which any true Dolphins fan or NFL enthusiast will tell you flat out will never happen. But the coaches came away very impressed after just a few practices. He may not start too many games this season, but the job could be his sooner than most thought.
5. It doesn’t matter if your name is Vontae Davis, but you better be in shape. It was awfully entertaining watching Philbin joke about a grown man not being able to go 75 minutes in hot and humid conditions without having to use the potty. It was bad enough that Davis openly admitted to his teammates and the cameras that he was terribly out of shape. But his tiny bladder gave Philbin added ammo. Even Davis better recognize that Philbin does not care about the name on the back of your jersey. It is all about the team. Davis will soon recognize that fact to be true.