5 Things We Learned from Miami Dolphins' Hard Knocks Episode 3
Somehow, even when we know what's coming, Hard Knocks manages to remain intriguing.
That's because there's always something to be learned from watching.
Whether it's valuable insight to the veterans taking control of the leadership responsibilities, the coaching staff telling the quarterbacks who has won the starting job or just some insight to how the coaches feel about the players, HBO always rewards viewers for tuning in every week.
So here are just five things we learned from this week's episode.
Unless specified otherwise, all quotes obtained via HBO's original broadcast of Hard Knocks.
Joe Philbin Has Instituted a Leadership Council, and Reggie Bush Is Part of It
The players felt the same way the coaching staff felt about the release of wide receiver Chad Johnson. Reggie Bush admitted that he felt the receiver formerly known as Ochocinco was a bit of a "media mess."
He, as well as linebacker Karlos Dansby and offensive tackle Jake Long, just felt there was a better way to address it, and that they could have helped put an end to the problem before it reached the point that he had to be released.
The three veterans offered the idea of a leadership council that could help serve as a sounding board for head coach Joe Philbin, and vice versa.
"If there's a guy that's in trouble, we feel like we can do something for him, help him out or set some primers and guidelines for him before you guys make a decision," said Bush.
Philbin said the group would be in place and would have informal meetings until the 53-man roster was decided, with Philbin warning the group when certain players are "pushing it to the limit" in terms of their good graces with the coaching staff.
But Long was looking to help his teammates in a different way—through tough love.
"The last couple of years, we haven't been good enough about holding players accountable," said offensive tackle Jake Long.
If there were any questions as to whether the Dolphins had sufficient veteran leadership, those questions can now go to rest.
John Jerry's Up-and-Down Week
It appeared that Jerry would be this week's scapegoat, as he was singled out by the coaching staff for his struggles. Offensive line coach Jim Turner promised to whip him into shape by giving him a ton of reps in practice.
Even the players took notice. But how could they not, after he heaved all over the turf inside the Dolphins' practice dome.
But over the course of one episode, Jerry was criticized for his weight and conditioning, spotlighted for his struggles in practice and congratulated on a solid effort in the Dolphins' preseason game against the Panthers.
"I tell you," said Turner during the game, "John Jerry is playing his balls off."
He had a solid performance, keeping his assignments at bay for much of the game.
Eric Steinbach Considered Retirement
Eric Steinbach enters his 10th year in the NFL. He has played in a zone blocking scheme in the past, but he has never played in an offense as high-paced as the one Joe Philbin is running.
It wore on him physically, to the point where he considered retirement. Injuries also played a role in his thinking.
After talking to Philbin, he took some time to think about it. He sat out of practice most of the week, and when he sat down with Philbin again, he said he was feeling a lot better, putting it at around 30 to 40 percent more positive in terms of wanting to play.
He was eager to get back to work and find out first-hand if he was ready for the grind of the NFL season.
"Say I do relax, then, for tomorrow and Friday," said Steinbach, "and I hit the ground Sunday or Monday, when I return to practice and I have a full week, that's going to be the gauge."
Interestingly, not a word has been written about Steinbach all week. I'm sure that will change after this episode of Hard Knocks.
The Coaching Staff Is Not Taking Kindly to Preseason Losses, or to Michael Egnew
We may not think the coaches care about the score in the preseason, and maybe they don't, but either way, the Dolphins coaching staff is voicing displeasure with their team's performances.
"Oh, my GOD!" yelled defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle from the booth, after a big completion by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "What the hell are we doing?!"
The Dolphins trailed 17-0 in the first quarter. Those struggles continued throughout the first half, with the Dolphins taking a 20-7 deficit to the locker room.
"That's not the Miami Dolphins that I was expectting to see in the first 30 minutes, I gotta be honest with you," said Philbin at halftime. "I thought we were going to play a hell of a lot better, but we've got 30 minutes to play the game the right way."
The coaching staff has reiterated that how a player responds to adversity is a big tell of character. Tight end Michael Egnew got an earful from tight ends coach Dan Campbell after a rough go in the first half, which included a dropped pass as well as some sluggish downfield run-blocking. But Campbell then relayed that bit of advice.
"The ones who can bounce back are the ones who can play solid in the league," said Campbell. "That's what you've got to do. Put it behind you. I wanna see how you respond, because if you let that get to you, we're going to know what you're about, but if you come back and you finish this game strong, then we're going to know who you are."
Egnew came back with a strong downfield block later in the game, which earned the praise of Campbell.
The Dolphins Knew Ryan Tannehill Would Be Starting After the Panthers Game
The news of Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback for the 2012 season only broke on Monday, but it still managed to sneak its way into the back end of Hard Knocks, as we got to see quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor deliver the news to both quarterbacks—first Matt Moore, then Tannehill.
Taylor said the competition was "as close as it could possibly be," but of course, that could be of little consolation to Moore after hearing the news.
Taylor added, "I look at you as the best backup quarterback in the league right now."
"I can't necessarily say that it's X percentage of passes," said Philbin, addressing Moore. "It's more a kind of a gut instinct, so to speak. I don't expect you stand up and give me a hug and say, 'Thanks, Joe.' I know you're disappointed. I can't put my finger on it necessarily. I have a lot of confidence in you, I believe in you...you're an important guy on this team to me, and I think to everybody."
As usual, we got to see the juxtaposition of the bad news for Moore, followed seconds later by the good news for Tannehill.
"No one lost this job," said Taylor to Tannehill. "I just think you did enough things to win the job, and we feel like going forward. You're giving us a great chance to win a lot of games and win quickly."
Tannehill worked his way up from the No. 3 spot, so when Philbin sat him down after he heard the news, it wasn't surprising to hear Philbin reiterate that he had earned it, and that "nobody handed you anything."
Philbin added: "Everybody's going to make it a huge deal, and try to blow it out of proportion—Tannehill's a rookie; they don't' have a great wide receivers; why are they putting him out there?; who's going to play the right side? They'll come up with a million reasons, OK? And they're not bad people—that's just what they get paid to do. My point to you is, I want you to be—one reason I like you is you've got a lot of poise, you have composure. You know how to handle yourself."