June 28, 2012
The Miami Dolphins are the latest NFL representatives to nominate themselves for the stage that is HBO‘s Hard Knocks, which profiles their training camp and preseason story-lines heading into the 2012 NFL season.
Some will speculate if the Dolphins were simply desperate for attention, as owner Stephen Ross has been one of the more criticized NFL owners for his odd decision-making and inability to lock down key coaches and free agents.
That may be the case, but for some reason this year, the majority of NFL teams just didn’t seem to be up for the distraction. The Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and a slew of other teams were reportedly offered the stage of Hard Knocks, but turned it down for unknown reasons.
Whatever the reason, Miami is the team that will be gracing the hit show, and while they probably weren’t anyone’s first choice, they still bring quite a lot of hype and interest to the sporting world.
Here’s a breakdown of the things involving the Dolphins that will make you want to call your local cable provider so you have HBO ready to roll this summer:
New Head Coach
Joe Philbin comes over from Green Bay to bring a sound offensive mind to a team that has been starving for offense since the days of Dan Marino. Miami shipped off their only proven play-maker in the passing game (Brandon Marshall), so it’ll be interesting to see just what Philbin can do in his first year with a pretty average offensive cast.
With that said, Philbin knows how to work with quarterbacks and get the best out of them, so I’m eager to watch him work with rookie Ryan Tannehill, as well as Matt Moore and David Garrard. More appropriately, we’ll all get a good look at Philbin’s demeanor and ability to lead as “the guy”. Will he have command of the entire team? Will he make the right calls when it comes to cuts and last minute additions? He’s a rookie head coach in the spotlight on an average team. It will certainly be interesting.
The Dolphins drafted Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill early in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he’s their expected franchise quarterback. I admit he’s talented and has all the tools to become a solid NFL starter, but he’d probably be a disaster if he sees the field as a rookie. He has the size, arm strength and athleticism to one day be a star, but he has very little experience and is pretty raw mechanically. He does have the advantage of playing in a very similar offense to what he did in college, as former Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman is now the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator and has installed his college offense with NFL terminology and upgrades.
All eyes will be on Tannehill’s development during the show – especially on how he performs in the three-headed quarterback competition involving veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard. There’s no question Moore and Garrard give Miami a better chance to win right now, but Tannehill is arguably the more talented player and carries a ton of upside. Does Miami throw caution to the wind and toss Tannehill to the wolves from day one, or do they let him learn in his first year?
Reggie Bush’s Role
There have been whispers about Reggie Bush reverting back to more of the hybrid role we all saw early with the Dolphins in 2011 and for the majority of his Saints career. So far, Miami coaches have hinted towards less carries, and more receptions. I’m all for the extra catches (in fantasy leagues, especially), but I’m not crazy about giving Daniel Thomas or rookie Lamar Miller extra rushing attempts.
I mean, am I the only one that saw Bush rattle off four straight 100+ rushing games before missing the season finale? The guy proved last year (finally) that he can ball, and suddenly he’s not good enough to be the lead back anymore? I’m not buying that, mostly because he did show he can play, and Thomas was under-whelming as a rook in 2011. This is definitely a story-line I’ll be paying close attention to.
Chad Ochocinco or Chad Johnson
The story-line we’ve all been waiting for, I’m sure. Ocho looks to go back to Johnson sometime before the season starts, and no one seems to care. After doing a whole lot of nothing as a member of the New England Patriots in 2011, there’s little reason to suspect ol’ number 85 suddenly reverts back to his speedy ways and kills it as a Dolphin.
Firstly, he’s 35 and clearly not what he once was. Secondly, he doesn’t have Tom Brady this time around. He’s not without talent and he certainly has a chip on his shoulder, so it’s safe to say the odds are stacked against him. However, I’ll still tune in to see if he can prove me and the rest of the world wrong.
Keep an eye on this Miami defense. It’s filled with a bunch of no-name talent, but with the loss of safety Yeremiah bell and pass-rusher Jason Taylor, they’re at the very worst getting younger and faster. They were solid at times in 2011, and could be on the upward swing.
On offense, I’ve got my eye on fourth-year receiver Brian Hartline. Joe Philbin helped turn Jordy Nelson into a stud last year with the Packers, and Hartline is another big, athletic white guy who could shock the world. He won’t score 15 touchdowns like Nelson did last year, or anything, but I think he’s better than a lot of people give him credit for. I’m eager to see what he can do as a starter without Brandon Marshall hogging targets.
Last, but not least, it may finally be time for Anthony Fasano to be pushed out of the way. He’s plodding and can’t make plays after the catch, while rookie tight end Michael Egnew is just as big and much more athletic. At the very least, Egnew could cut into Fasano’s red-zone work. He’s another guy to watch.
Catch the Miami Dolphins on HBO‘s Hard Knocks this summer, with the first episode airing on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 10 p.m. ET.