HBO's Hard Knocks featuring the Miami Dolphins debuted last night and filled us all with the inevitable feeling of false hope and overhyped enthusiasm for our shitty, shitty football team.
But a reality show featuring the Fins is a nice change of pace from their old NORAD-like, supersecretive attitude from years past. It's all part of owner Stephen Ross' new vision of a team that is accessible and open to the media and the public, even if it still plays like a bucket of old cat piss. Here's what we learned from the opening episode:
- Chad Johnson is a clown. Of course, we all knew this, but to see him onscreen, dropping F-bombs and walking in on a coaches-only meeting was a delight. He also looks like he can still play, although he's been playing against his fellow Dolphins so far, so we really won't know until the real games begin. Either way, Johnson should make Hard Knocks fun the rest of the season. Just one episode in and he already had a good talkin' to by Coach Joe Philbin about an expletives-laced news conference he held with the local media. Also, he met his wife on Twitter; she apparently used to be ex-NBA star Antoine Walker's wife.
- New Head Coach Philbin seems like a good dude. He seems like a smart guy too. Although the whole "no f-bombs" speech to Johnson was lame. The "you need to represent this franchise better" angle was contrived and dumb. THIS FOOTBALL TEAM WILL NOT TOLERATE GROWN MEN SAYING "FUCK!" We can ask people if their mom used to be a prostitute during interviews all we want, but PLAYERS USING SALTY LANGUAGE IS VERBOTEN!
- Jeff Ireland: still a smug little asshole.
- Ryan Tannehill looks like a franchise quarterback. Of course, he still needs to play a down. But he carries himself like a pro, is a big dude, and can throw the rock. Fellow QB David Garrard called him "The People's Choice," and that seems to be true. Dolphins fans want something to hang their hopes on.
- You can call Ryan Tannehill's cell number thanks to Ireland and HBO.
- CB Vontae Davis being in the doghouse was interesting to watch. The former first-round pick was shown dogging it during practice and gassed during one particular drill. Mics caught him telling a teammate he was going to "act" like he wasn't tired. He was also late to a drill because he was supposedly taking a piss. The very next scene, we saw VD getting told he needs to get his shit together or he'd lose his job.
- The quarterback competition was an interesting thing to watch unfold. This is a team that's had roughly 8,976 different starting QBs since Dan Marino retired, and now the job is up for grabs (again!). Garrard has the inside track this week, but he's returning from a back injury. Matt Moore was last year's starter, but he's clearly a career backup (and a puppet!). Tannehill is the new guy. As the preseason progresses and the series takes off, it's going to be as fun as it is painful to watch the QB competition take place. The hope here is that Garrard or Moore takes the job and Tannehill remains on the bench for his rookie season.
- The highlight of the show (besides the one shot of the cheerleaders with the bouncing boobies) was the closing scene in which Philbin informs the QBs of the depth chart and then walks out with a Seinfeld reference: "Gonna leave on a high note, like George Costanza." We don't know if Philbin will lead us to the promised land as Don Shula once did, but quoting Seinfeld is a pretty kickass start if you ask me.
Hard Knocks airs on HBO every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Look for our show recaps here every Wednesday.