Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dolphins to appear on HBO's Hard Knocks

In a somewhat surprising move (although less surprising in the post-Bill Parcells era) the Miami Dolphins have agreed to be on HBO's recurring documentary series Hard Knocks during their 2012 training camp and preseason periods.

The program began in 2001 with coverage of the defending champion Baltimore Ravens, and went on to cover the Dallas Cowboys (2002 and 2008), Kansas City Chiefs (2007), Cincinnati Bengals (2009) and New York Jets (2010). Due in part to the lockout, Hard Knocks did not air in 2011.

Head coach Joe Philbin stated the choice to appear on Hard Knocks was "a football decision" and that owner Stephen Ross did not force the show on the team for publicity or marketing purposes, although that seems a little hard to believe given Ross' desire for the limelight and his penchant for meddling in football affairs.

Regardless, I view this is a welcome occurrence for us fans of the team and I personally do not have any concerns about the show creating any kind of distraction with the team. As has already been pointed out, the last two Hard Knocks teams made the playoffs and the reality is the cameras are long gone before games start to matter.

I also don't view the Dolphins as legitimate playoff contenders in 2012 anyway, with a .500 record being on the high end of what I'd expect from the team. The roster still has holes and will likely be starting a stopgap quarterback this season, so the real revamp of the team won't come until 2013 when Hard Knocks is will in the rear-view mirror.

As for what the Dolphins have to offer, there are a number of things I think are obvious subjects for HBO to cover this summer, including:

  • Joe Philbin taking on his first pro head coaching gig, joining a team that has struggled in recent years after coming over from a highly-successful franchise in Green Bay. Expect a focus on Philbin learning how to interact with players and assistant coaches as the big boss, and I imagine Hard Knocks will mention the death of one of Philbin's children, which happened shortly before he was hired
  • The always juicy quarterback battle, largely between the incumbent, Matt Moore, and David Garrard, who is a former Pro Bowler trying to rejuvenate his career
  • The development and competition provided by rookie first-round quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is to be the Dolphins' quarterback of the future at some point. I suspect the producers wouldn't mind a glimpse of Mrs. Tannehill, either
  • Running back Reggie Bush, who has the most "celebrity appeal" of anyone on the roster and is coming off a career year as he looks to replicate his production as a feature back
  • The Dolphins' attempting to replace the departed Brandon Marshall at wide receiver while lacking a true No. 1 option
  • A potential switch to the 4-3 defensive scheme, which will have players all across the front seven changing positions
  • The continued development of Dolphins' starting cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, as well as the battles for the starting safety spots in the wake of Yeremiah Bell's departure
It certainly should be an interesting ride for Dolphins fans and I'll have more coverage of the series leading up to the series premiere, which will premiere on Tuesday, August 7 after training camp is well underway. And, of course, I'll break down the episodes as they air.

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