Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hard Knocks: Episode 2 Thoughts & Observations

The highly-anticipated second episodes of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins aired last night, featuring a multitude of continued and new storylines, including the arrest and release of potential starting wide receiver Chad Johnson.

Here are my observations from the episode in a primarily chronological order...

  • Unfortunately, the death of Andy Reid's son last week provided the perfect segue into talking to Joe Philbin about the loss of his own son, who drowned back in January. It was moving to listen to Philbin speak one-on-one about his son, and I'm not ashamed to admit I teared up right about when he did. I have no idea if Philbin will be a good head coach for the Dolphins, but I do know I like the guy a lot. Just seems very genuine and good.
  • Les Brown's struggles continue and there doesn't appear to be any way he makes the team. At this point, the Dolphins will be debating if he even has the upside to keep on the practice squad.
  • Shocking to see Michael Egnew and Charles Clay ripped new ones by Mike Sherman in the meeting. I'm not saying Sherman was wrong on the way he handled it, but it was surprising to see him flat-out tell Egnew that he was terrible and he'd cut him today if he could. From everything I saw of Egnew, he looked like he had a bad attitude and was either sad or pissed off the whole time. Not a good sign and I'm worried the "tough love" method will have the opposite effect of what's intended.
  • It does bring up an interesting point though: could Egnew really not make the team? Every few years it seems, a third-rounder is cut before his rookie season. The Dolphins actually had an example on their roster in recent years with Quentin Moses, who was cut by the Raiders the same year they drafted him. It's clear the team is down on him, his position coach doesn't like him and he's probably not going to contribute in 2012, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that the team decides to move on quicker than expected.
  • It's certainly hard not to be impressed with Ryan Tannehill from the practice film and the game. When you combine his plus athleticism with smarts, a good arm and strong accuracy, he certainly looks like he has the makings of a star. I'd expect him to start Friday at this point.
  • Perhaps the most revealing part of the show from an X's and O's point of view was the segment on Roberto Wallace. Most of the chatter about Wallace in camp has been positive, and he had a pretty strong preseason debut aside from his dropped touchdown. But here we saw that the coaching staff is very concerned about him getting separation and even calling him "Ankle Weights" in a meeting. I like Wallace on special teams and he certainly seems to be a solid prospect compared to most of his competitors, but perhaps he's not as close to a roster spot as we thought.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, Chris Hogan was showcased as a route-running specimen that has a knack for getting open, so cue the fan obsession and the lofty predictions. Hogan certainly seemed to have good technique, but the Dolphins barely played him in the preseason opener and continue to keep him buried on the depth chart even when struggling guys like Wallace are getting more chances with Chad Johnson's departure.
  • Perhaps the best thing Chad Johnson did during his brief time in Miami was push Sean Smith in practice. It was great to see them go at it, and it was great to see Smith make plays and respond positively to a challenge. The issue with Smith is getting it to carry over to games, which it really hasn't yet in his career. I still like his talent, but that switch needs to go off sooner rather than later.
  • Interesting to hear that Chad Johnson was struggling with the offense and hadn't been as consistent as the team would have liked in practice. I don't think his roster spot was truly in jeopardy until the arrest, however, as he'd been working with the starters for all of camp. But it's certainly not going to help his very weak case to continue his NFL career.
  • I thought the Jake Long and Jacquies Smith fight was interesting because it was completely instigated by Long. Two or three times, Long pushed Smith in the face after the play was over, and then he reacted with shock and anger when Smith retaliated. Perhaps that's Long's leadership style or perhaps this was a carryover from a previous encounter.
  • Not sure I buy David Garrard's "I turned and my knee popped" excuse and I'd be willing to bet it was a more physical activity that caused the injury. Regardless, the recovery time on the show was said to be 3-4 weeks, as opposed to the 2-4 weeks that was reported. Three weeks will put him out until September and he'll be in jeopardy for the season opener on Sept. 9. It'll be interesting to see what they do if he's healthy soon before the opener, because while they clearly favored the guy in camp, can they really start him on a new team in a new offense without ever playing a preseason game?
  • As expected, the Chad Johnson discussion with Philbin was powerful stuff. While I don't feel bad for the man because this is his own doing, it was emotional to watch him be cut because you could see the pain, regret and anger in his eyes and body language. This is his own fault, but it's unfortunate it happened this way because he literally could not afford any slip-up if he wanted to prolong his NFL career and you can see on his face he knows he's blown it.
  • Some felt it was inappropriate to show Johnson's release on TV, but I totally disagree. NFL Films' job is the show the real highs and lows of training camp, and everyone knew what they signed up for when they agreed to it. Chad Johnson should be far more embarrassed by the fact that he beat his wife than he should by his termination from the Dolphins being shown on television. And let's not forget, Johnson still lied to Philbin in that final meeting when he said he'd never been in trouble before, ever. Johnson was arrested and convicted of domestic assault in 2000. There are victims in this situation, but Chad Johnson is not one of them.

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