This training camp, the Miami Dolphins have allowed the HBO cameras into their practice facility for unfettered 24-hour access. Last night, Dolphins fans with access to HBO had an opportunity to get an inside look at what’s been going on at Dolphins camp. ”Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins” was hyped for over 2 months, but for me, episode 1 didn’t disappoint. I know not everyone has HBO, so we’ll use these posts to fill all Dolphins fans in on what they missed on Hard Knocks. Personally, I didn’t have HBO until Monday night when I called DirecTV and told them I had a better offer from Comcast (which I did), that included HBO. After 30 minutes on the phone I walked away with $28 per month off my bill, NFL Sunday Ticket for 2012 for free, and free HBO for the next 2 months (which is all I need it for!). If you don’t have HBO, you might want to give it a try, your service provider wants to keep you and knows that there is a lot of competition!
Back to Hard Knocks….we knew that the HBO crew would be looking for storylines to build the drama. After all, this is a TV series that is meant for a much wider audience than just Dolphins fans. You and I could sit and watch practice rep after practice rep of Ray Feinga vs. Jared Odrick in line drills….but the casual football fan doesn’t really care about that. It’s also important to remember that the tape we are seeing is edited and can portray someone or some scene differently than it actually went down. This isn’t done purposely, but they only have 1 hour to capture a week’s worth of events.
The top storyline for this season’s Hard Knocks appears to be the Dolphins QB Competition. Early on in the show, we get an inside look at the personal lives of Matt Moore, David Garrard, and Ryan Tannehill. We visit each QBs home and ‘meet’ their wives. Eh’em, Mrs. Tannehill, we salute you. We see a number of practice plays and coaches meetings about the QBs. Early on, we get a little more information about the Ryan Tannehill contract negotiation. At one point, Dawn Aponte, Dolphins cap guru, is on the phone with Joe Philbin saying that Ryan needs to decide if he wants to be a Miami Dolphin or not. Sounded like the negotiations weren’t going to well at one point. But, as we now know, the contract was signed and Tannehill has looked good in camp thus far.
The Dolphins QB Coach says that Matt Moore has earned the respect of his teammates from his accomplishments last season. He says that Garrard and Tannehill are well on their way to earning that same type of respect. Clips of the Dolphins scrimmage are shown and each QB is chronicled. Tannehill, it should be noted, had the most impressive day of all the QBs. The show ends with Joe Philbin joining a QB position meeting and discussing the team’s first depth chart: 1. Garrard, 2. Moore, 3. Tannehill, 4. Devlin. I like the way Philbin handled it, very matter of fact and insisting that this is representative of what the Dolphins have seen thus far into camp. The QB competition is still ‘very’ wide open.
Another big storyline is the inconsistent play of Vontae Davis. Davis doesn’t come off looking too good in last night’s episode. Philbin talks at one point about Vontae leaving practice to use the restroom and joking that he should be able to hold it since Philbin is 51 and doesn’t have any issues! A few clips are shown of Vontae saying he’s tired in practice and of his position coach telling him that he has more potential than any CB, but he needs to show it consistently. This was very interesting and shows why Richard Marshall was listed ahead of Davis on the first depth chart. It’ll be interesting to see how Vontae responds to not being the starter on the depth chart AND to the now public criticism being shown on Hard Knocks.
In only one episode we got to see how Joe Philbin operates. He’s a highly organized guy with a dry sense of humor. I love that the cameras showed the innovative dual practice Philbin runs. This is exactly the type of innovative thinking that the Dolphins have been missing. If you haven’t heard, the Dolphins set up 2 different defense vs. offense units on the field, going in opposite directions. After one offense vs. defense repetition, the coaches simply turn around and watch the other units square off. This maximizes the amount o practice repetitions each player gets in practice. It also keeps a swift pace, but allows practice to be shorter to lessen the effect of the mid-day South Florida heat. Great job by Philbin and his staff to come up with this.
Overall, I came away highly impressed with Hard Knocks. Yes, it was hyped up for a long time, but I think it met and even exceeded my expectations. For even further news about what happened last night, check out Ben Volin’s post here. I can’t wait to see next week’s episode! The Dolphins do not have a practice this morning and will instead practice tonight at 6:30pm to prepare for their first exhibition game, Friday against the Bucs.