‘Hard Knocks’ with the Dolphins, Episode 2: After the Final Rose

I don’t know about you, but I’m still feeling the lingering effects of last night’s captivating “Hard Knocks” episode.  After the previous season’s sideshow with the Jets, and last week’s snoozefest, worries had started to set in that “Hard Knocks” had lost its edge.  But last night showed you makes the series so great: the possibility for compelling drama to be captured in real-time without filter.

The episode began by broaching one of the topics I had wondered about my “Hard Knocks” preview, whether we would see any reaction from Joe Philbin on the tragic death of Garrett Reid, since Philbin also lost a son, Michael, late last season.  Sure enough, we saw Philbin talking to his wife, Diane, about reaching out to Tammy Reid, as Reid had done to same to Philbin after their son’s death.  They say coaching is a fraternity, and you can certainly see that here.  As Philbin discusses the events surrounding his son’s death, and only a few weeks later, taking the Dolphins head coach job (which was prompted by his other son), it’s impossible not to psychoanalyze what had been going on in his head back then and even today.  As with the case of Reid, it seems like the ability to cope with a personal tragedy and still perform a highly demanding job is a skill that uniquely suited for a football coach.  For better or for worse, these men have no choice but to compartmentalize everything going on in their personal life to maintain focus on a true 24/7 job.

Moving onto the players, it has become clear that “Hard Knocks” is going to be focusing on the training camp battles of the tight ends and wide receivers.  And for good reason, because with Chad Johnson now gone the battle seems wide open for not just who will make a roster but who will actually start (note: while this may make for good tv, for a football team this is a very bad thing). We see that Les Brown (undrafted TE) has made some progress (primarily because there’s no blocking highlights), Chris Hogan (undrafted WR) is like 7-11 (always open), but Roberto Wallace (WR), Charles Clay (RB/TE) and Michael Egnew (TE) are not quite catching on.  These are the storylines that we’ll be following in the coming episodes.

Meanwhile, the QB battle took a dramatic turn, as David Garrard took an unfortunate step while playing with his kids and heard something “crunch” in his knee.  Sure enough, the MRI revealed he needed surgery.  This thrust Matt Moore into the starting spot and led to, shall we say, a very awkward encounter in the QB coaches room, as Garrard walked in with knee brace and propped his leg on a chair.  Moore, completely oblivious to the extent of Garrard’s injury, started joking around with Garrard, who clearly wasn’t having it.  Note to Moore: if you back into the starting job because someone better than you got injured, perhaps cut the frat-boy routine and show some humility.

But more importantly, Ryan Tannehill is moved up to the #2 slot, meaning more excuses to show Lauren Tannehill! OMG, she’s cheering in the rain, what a superfan!

And then the episode’s big elephant, Chad Johnson, finally got the spotlight.  Once news of his, er, unfortunate penchant for keeping receipts, the arrest, and subsequent release broke over the weekend, the world had been eagerly anticipating how, if at all, “Hard Knocks” would deal with the story.  Well, suffice to say, it did not disappoint.  Major kudos to the producers by catching every unfortunate Johnson quip prior to the incident during practice (for, example talking about running routes being like sex in that you get bored with the same thing after awhile), as a foreshadowing for the big event.  And when it occurred, we were given access to Philbin’s office for perhaps the most compelling break-up/firing in reality tv history.  It was basically like Bachelor’s “final rose” ceremony (or so I hear), except 1000% more compelling, and actually real.  As Philbin tiptoed up to his decision, you could see Johnson’s embarrassed hopefulness transform into utter despair written on his face.  He was gone from the Dolphins, and most likely, from the NFL entirely.  (But still on Twitter!)

So tune in next week when we find out if the Dolphins have any wide receivers that can actually play in the NFL.

Here’s the break-up

See also:

Hard Knocks’ with the Dolphins, Episode 1: No Fun Philbin