We've seen five great episodes of Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins, and thanks to the program, everyone has their own opinion on the team.
Most of it is bad.
But now that we've seen how the Dolphins do business, one question begs to be asked.
Was it worth it?
Was letting HBO and NFL Films' cameras into Davie for the last month-and-a-half worth it for the Miami Dolphins? Did it help them in any way, shape or form?
The answer from me might surprise you. I actually think it did.
Had it not been for Hard Knocks, we would've wondered why Vontae Davis was demoted, then traded. However, in episode one we saw a former first-round pick with Pro Bowl-caliber talent who seemed winded during practice. We saw him struggle to keep up with the team and make adjustments.
His demotion and trade still got some Dolphins fans angry, but thanks to Hard Knocks, we got to see firsthand why the coaches and front office made the decision they made. We also got to see Jeff Ireland work Indianapolis during the trade. Indy wanted to give up a late-round pick and nothing more. Ireland was able to get them to trade a second-rounder and sixth-rounder.
Very smooth negotiating, Mr. Ireland. The problem Dolphins fans will have with that, though, is Ireland could be the one making the picks.
We also got to see that head coach Joe Philbin never really cared for Chad Johnson's personality. He seemed fine with Johnson as a player and person, but didn't like the distractions.
Yet Philbin would've been able to put up with some distractions (i.e. the cursing), but the domestic issue Johnson ran into would be too much for him to bear.
Through this, though, we saw Philbin having to deal with a high-pressure situation early on. He made a quick decision and executed it, sticking to his guns the whole time. While you might not agree with the decision he made (and while he might have come off awkward while making it), you still left with the impression that Miami had a strong-willed head coach who could keep his cool under pressure.
But the biggest impact will come to the team itself. By placing them under a fishbowl of cameras and viewers, the entire Dolphins organization was shown to the world to have even their smallest flaws picked at. It forced a young Dolphins team to develop a thick skin early on.
This is important because while the Heat are the defending NBA champions with two of the top 20 most famous athletes in the world, the Dolphins still get the bulk of the attention from the South Florida fans and media.
Any action they take will be analyzed, re-analyzed, scrutinized and torn apart more so than all three of the other South Florida-based major league teams combined by the local media (the Heat don't really get scrutinized as much by the local media despite the national media at times inventing ways to criticize the team and players).
Which leads us to Ryan Tannehill, who in the end will be the beneficiary of this.
Tannehil is Miami's best hope for the future currently on the roster. He will be the most visible player on the team. While it will be unfair, he will get the Marino comparisons.
If he fails, he joins Chad Henne, A.J. Feely and Daunte Culpepper as just another Dolphins bust while becoming a pariah in the area. If he succeeds (and eventually brings Miami a Super Bowl championship), he becomes Miami's most popular athlete (yes, even ahead of the Big Three; remember, this is a football town).
Already we have seen Tannehill handle the pressure well. He rarely looks phased in the pocket, and he's taken his biggest gaffe on Hard Knocks in stride—the non-issue of him not knowing the NFL's divisions.
And I say non-issue because I can understand why he didn't know them; he grew up following college football more than the NFL, like many other kids raised in Texas, plus the simple fact that as long as you can beat that team, it doesn't matter what division you're in.
Hard Knocks only added to the maturation process for Tannehill, a kid who was already pretty mature to begin with. You could see the same effect in many other players, the growth we saw in Daniel Thomas after his chat with Coach Philbin comes to mind.
Miami has no regrets about appearing on the show, at least head coach Joe Philbin didn't when he told NFL.com's Albert Breer:
I don't have any regrets. I'm not sitting in my office and saying, 'Geez, why did we do that?' And if we win 15 games, it's not gonna be because they were here, just like if we lose 13 games, it won't be because they were here. It was a good experience, we met a lot of good people. That's really it.
The organization doesn't have a reason to have regrets either. Regardless of how this season turns out, Hard Knocks was a learning experience for all of the players involved, one that could positively affect both their careers and the team going forward.