Throughout this season, Dolphins fans Vinny Ginardi and super-guest blogger Patrick Dillon will discuss each episode of the HBO series Hard Knocks. The two will exchange their thoughts on each episode and the ins and outs of the 2012 Miami Dolphins. They are hoping this will not be the most entertaining part of the season.
Vinny Ginardi: Whew! What an emotional episode. Gimme a second to put the tissues away. From the intro covering the death of Joe Philbin’s son to David Gararrd’s knee surgery to releasing Chad Johnson, this episode had a much more serious feel than the season premiere.
My biggest takeaway from these first two episodes is just how much this little insight has changed my perception of football players. Of all the sports, football players are the ones we can relate to the least. They are hidden by helmets and facemasks and play a game where the average player wouldn’t last one play. Getting an inside look has allowed me to view them more as people, and less as players.
What’s been your biggest takeaway, Pat?
Pat Dillon: Even though I already knew how the whole ‘Chad Johnson Era’ ended, it was still very uncomfortable for me to watch the meeting between Philbin and Johnson. The part I did not understand is why Philbin is cutting him and not the General Manager Jeff Ireland?! Not only is it his job, Philbin was obviously uncomfortable cutting Johnson who, by the way, is one of the most outspoken players in the league. I think Ireland should have definitely been there with Philbin in that meeting. (By the way, I think the decision to get rid of Chad was the right one. Off the field problems > on the field production is never a good thing to have)
To answer your question, my biggest takeaway has been seeing all the preparation of the numerous coaches of the team. The average fan does not realize all the work and time that the coaches dedicate to the team, and Hard Knocks does a great job of shining a light on them. We touched on Philbin last week, but this week, there were a couple of coaches that had great moments on this episode.
First was Mike Sherman, the offensive coordinator and Ryan Tannehill’s coach at Texas A&M last year. To say he ripped into the tight ends during a meeting would be like saying Tim Tebow kinda likes Jesus. I really thought rookie Tight End Michael Egnew was going to cry when Sherman said that he would have cut him if he were the GM.
Later in the episode, we meet former Marine and the current offensive line coach Jim Turner. His highlights include calling one of the offensive lineman (I believe Jake Long) an ‘effin a-hole’ (he didn’t say it like that), playing the Miami Dolphin cheerleaders ‘Call Me Maybe’ video during one of the meetings, coming back into the room and making an erection joke, and standing in the pouring rain cursing to himself during the first preseason game . All of this with a heavy, HEAVY Boston accent.
Speaking of the preseason game, what were your impressions of the game?
VG:Before I get to your question, I want touch on your comment about Philbin cutting Chad and not Jeff Ireland. I was okay with having Philbin break the news to Chad, but also think that Ireland should have been present for the meeting. But watching the scene made me a little bit more hesitant about Philbin. We discussed last week how he is soft spoken and I thought that this scene was entirely uncomfortable. He wasn’t very assertive and never directly came out and told Chad that he was being released, just that he thought it would be better if they went separate ways. I still like him as the coach, but situations like these make me worry a little bit.
As for the preseason game, I really enjoyed hearing what the coaches were saying during the game. Again, what I’ve liked the most about this show is being able to see things that you normally wouldn’t during a regular game or by reading a recap. It was interesting to see just how often in preseason games offensive coordinators call out plays just to get specific players involved. I’m hoping Les Brown has a pass thrown his way next game, I’m still rooting him in.
On a side note, after seeing Vontae Davis disappoint in week one, it was great to see the confidence and improvement from Sean Smith this week. It appears that he is ready for a breakout season. If Davis returns to the level he was at last season, the Dolphins could have a very intimidating secondary. I hope to see some focus on Davis next episode, to see if he has made any improvements since coming to camp out of shape.
PD: Vontae is very important to the Dolphins if they plan on having success this upcoming year. I believe the defensive front seven will be one of the strengths of the Fins this year, so the corners, as well as the safeties, will have to step up. The NFL is a pass happy league, and with the Fins facing prolific passers such as Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, and Mark Sanchez (lol), the team needs all the help it can get.
The first preseason game is the first real live action the players see, so you should make your observations with that in mind. I agree with you about Les Brown. None of the Tight Ends on this team seem to be “”run blockers” first, so I want to see what Brown can do. Michael Egnew made one really nice catch, catching a ball that was tipped by the defender first, but he has to be WAY more consistent. Another TE that was berated by Sherman earlier in the episode, Charles Clay, had a great game and hopefully can continue with his positive play.
Besides the tight ends, a couple of other players stuck out. Ryan Tannehill had a great first NFL game. He was 14 of 21 for 167 yards and one touchdown pass. He looked much better than Matt Moore, who went 7 of 12 for 79 yards and threw an interception. Granted, Tannehill was going against the backups of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I hope Tannehill gets the start this Friday against the Carolina Panthers. Philbin needs to pick one of these quarterbacks to be the starter soon so the offense can get into a good rhythm before their Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans.
These quarterbacks will need receivers to throw to, and a couple finally stepped up and made some plays. Roberto Wallace was able to make some plays with Tannehill in and Chris ‘7-11’ Hogan has been impressive to the coaches in camp, considering he is a lacrosse player from Penn State. Hopefully Roberto Wallace gets a cool nickname and the two receivers continue to make plays.
Vinny, besides seeing more of 7-11 (I can’t believe I was the first one to mention him, this guy is your type of player), what are you looking forward to seeing in next week’s episode?
VG: Well obviously I want to see more 7-11 Pat. But other than that, I am looking forward to seeing more from the quarterback battle. We knew that this would be the main focus of the show, and it has been, but it has become even more interesting to me because Tannehill, Moore, and Garrard are all extremely likable. With Garrard now out with the knee injury, I’m looking forward to seeing out the other two quarterbacks respond to their performances in the team’s first preseason game.
I am also curious to see if we see anything about the team reacting to Chad Johnson being released. I know Karlos Dansby vocally disagreed with the move so it will be interesting to find out how the entire reacts to the news. It’s very possible that the Chad section has been all wrapped up though.
Also, I want to see a little bit of Dan “DC Money” Carpenter. Where the heck has he been?