5 Things We Learned from Miami Dolphins Hard Knocks Episode 1
HBO's Hard Knocks has made its season debut, featuring our first look at some of the main characters on the Miami Dolphins roster.
There were a lot of interesting developments, from the unveiling of the biggest storyline to the in-and-out tenure of right guard Derek Dennis (spoiler alert: Dennis now plays for the Patriots).
If you only came to look at Lauren Tannehill, then your needs were met nine minutes into the show. If you came for a bit more insight on the Miami Dolphins, here are some observations to chew on.
Ryan Tannehill's Holdout Could Have Gotten Ugly
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It was the unhappy beginning that nearly drew a parallel between the most recent season of Hard Knocks and the one we're watching now.
Unlike Revis, though, Tannehill was in camp within days of its beginning, and thus, we had our happy ending and a new beginning.
Dolphins officials expressed concern, with general manager Jeff Ireland saying on the broadcast, "It's driving me nuts."
This was after the team's contracts guru Dawn Aponte, previously of the Browns, told new head coach Joe Philbin, "Ryan will not be a Miami Dolphin this year, based on our positions, and he'll go back in the draft."
Luckily, for both sides, it got worked out before it got ugly.
Quarterback Battle Is Storyline No. 1
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The No. 1 position on every NFL roster also happens to be one of the positions of most uncertainty for the Miami Dolphins. As such, it is the No. 1 storyline for the Dolphins on Hard Knocks.
Coach Philbin talked with the quarterbacks about putting out a depth chart, per the NFL rules, as a result of the upcoming preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He even told them what order they'd be listed in.
"I want you guys to know, that in no way is this competition over," said Philbin on the broadcast. "This is a reflection of what's gone on up to this point in training camp. Our minds are not made up at all. I hope you know, if you have a problem with that you should talk to [quarterback coach] Zac [Taylor] about it, talk to [offensive coordinator Mike] Sherm[an] about it, or talk to me about it."
Of course, they could talk to their coaches about the situation, but ultimately, the best thing for each to do would be to prove that they are above their ranking—or, in Garrard's case, worthy of that ranking—on the field.
Chad Johnson Is Back to His Old Self, and It May Not Fly
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After hauling in just 15 receptions with the New England Patriots, many would say Chad Johnson had an off year, that he got lost in the playbook or that he simply wasn't a factor in New England's offense.
Chad has a different way of looking at it.
"Last year, I took a year off to give everybody else a chance to catch up," he said on the broadcast.
Our first interaction with Chad on the show has the receiver interrupting a coachs' meeting, sitting in for a couple of minutes before leaving. He tells the coaches his wife doesn't want to see him until after training camp.
Looks like the old Chad is back. He has said that he feels like he can breathe again in Miami, and that he feels like he can be himself.
"It's Chad Johnson, not Ochocinco," said offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. "So we're going to let him be Chad Johnson."
They didn't realize exactly what that entailed, though, until Ochojohnson dropped seven F-bombs in one colorful press conference. Philbin pulled Johnson aside and talked to him about portraying the right image of the Miami Dolphins organization.
Johnson tried to explain himself, but Philbin pointed out on the broadcast that if he doesn't fall in line, "It could absolutely [put him in jeopardy of losing his spot]. Absolutely."
Philbin added: "We all have an obligation, we all have a responsibility, he needs to either fall in line or not, it's pretty simple."
Vontae Davis' Conditioning Is a Concern
Maybe he's breathing in too much smoke...
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That's what Vontae Davis called his time on the sideline trying not to look tired.
Instead of looking tired on the sideline, though, wide receiver Rishard Matthews made him look tired on the field in the very next shot, going deep on Davis for a touchdown.
Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo told him to get in better shape and to show more hunger. Philbin noticed he was going to the bathroom a lot during practice.
Overall, Davis couldn't have been too happy with the season premiere of Hard Knocks. What will air next week could cast Davis in a better light, as the young cornerback earned back some first-team reps on Monday with veteran Richard Marshall's role unsettled at the moment.
If Davis wants to remain one of Miami's starting corners, though, he should focus on writing his own happy ending to the show.
There Are Plenty of Story Lines, Many of Which We Haven't Gotten to Yet
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Chad Johnson's redemption, Ryan Tannehill's legitimacy as an NFL quarterback, the quarterback battle as a whole, Joe Philbin as a first-year head coach, and the first first-year head coach to ever be featured on Hard Knocks.
Those are just the major storylines around the Dolphins.
There are other storylines we didn't get to, though. Reggie Bush flew under the radar, making a brief appearance as Chad Johnson's FIFA '12 opponent. Bush is trying to replicate a breakout season in 2011.
But the biggest storyline of all? The rebuilding of a franchise that has, despite a few glimpses of glory, been in the dumps for years. And we'll get to watch the Dolphins lay the foundation for that rebuild all the way through training camp.