|The Dolphins will be better on Hard Knocks than you'd expect. Here's why. (MiamiDolphins.com)|
On Tuesday, the Dolphins announced that they'd be featured on 2012's rendition of HBO's Hard Knocks. The news, unsurprisingly, was met with plenty of mocking glee on Twitter.
But the Dolphins are actually a pretty compelling team for the series, especially considering the slew of rejections dealt to HBO by various NFL teams in the weeks leading up to the Dolphins accepting the offer.
1. Quarterback competition
QB competitions are king of the NFL offseason, and nothing cranks up the interest (and vitriol!) of fans like a first-hand look at such a competition. Matt Moore is the incumbent who was strong down the stretch last year, David Garrard is the previously successful veteran and Ryan Tannehill is the rook with a better knowledge of the playbook because he was coached by the offensive coordinator in college. Quarterback competitions usually involve everyone trying to be nice about each other, and these guys might do that, but there's some clear internal and external strife between this group of quarterbacks that could create some serious drama. At the very least, it'll be interesting to see who wins out.
2. Lauren Tannehill
Hubby Ryan will get plenty of attention for No. 1 above, but his biggest draw might be his significant other. Lauren Tannehill blew up with her appearance at the 2012 NFL Draft -- a photo gallery with her on the cover was the most-read piece on NFL.com that week. And it wasn't just the official website of the NFL that drew traffic from a rookie's wife being attractive. All of Google blew up when she appeared on television, as you can tell from Google searches for "Lauren Tannehill" over the past 90 days:
And the reality is, if you're the type of person who appreciates the natural beauty of attractive women, you could do worse than Mrs. Tannehill. Like other "Hard Knocks" wives before her, there's a good chance she'll get some airtime.
3. Stephen Ross meddling
As I noted in the original post, Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland don't seem like the type of guys to jump all over Hard Knocks. (Philbin even said "I'm built for radio, not TV" just a few months ago.) Owner Ross? This is his freaking wheelhouse. He wants attention on the franchise, he wants people to talk about the Dolphins. And most important, he's shown over the past few years that he's absolutely unafraid to meddle in "football decisions" ... like this one. Here's hoping we get a couple videos of him trying to motivate the players in the locker room or maybe even drawing up a defensive scheme or two before looking over at the camera and winking. The unintentional comedy factor here is out of this world.
What can I say -- I'm a sucker for cameos. And this season of Hard Knocks has infinite possibilities. I want Jimmy Buffett spiking Dan Carpenter's Gatorade with a Landshark marg. I want minority owner Gloria Estefan walking onto the field followed by dudes blaring Rhythm Is Gonna Get You on trumpets. And I want Dwyane Wade showing up and acting like he'd be the best quarterback on the roster. Oh right. That already happened.
5. First-year head coach
Philbin will be the first-ever first-year coach to be featured on Hard Knocks, and from a football perspective, that's a cool thing. Philbin is a highly-respected coach with an excellent pedigree, but he's also a soft-spoken guy and I'd be willing to bet that about one percent of casual NFL fans could pick him out of a lineup. The show won't wrap up with Philbin getting the kind of pub that Rex Ryan got when the Jets appeared on the show two years ago. In fact, my guess is Philbin draws praise and love from fans and viewers for the exact opposite reasons as Rex. And that's a good thing.
6. Reggie Bush
Bush, like it or not, is a celebrity outside the world of football. That's mainly because he used to date Kim Kardashian. That status, and the fact that Kim's now with Kanye West, should make for an interesting dynamic. Or at the very least, a reason to convince your wife (if she's not football-friendly like mine) that she wants to watch the show with you. And if Bush has the stones to show up in a "Do you like fishsticks?" T-shirt, I'll let him off the hook when he ends up not winning the 2012 NFL rushing title. And seriously, what are the odds that he's back together with Kim before August 7 when the first episode airs? Someone get Bovada on that.
Forty years ago, Don Shula and the 1972 Dolphins completed the last perfect season in NFL history. (You might remember them from obnoxious mid-to-late-season champagne drinking.) HBO and Philbin both mentioned that in the press release, which means that the historical weight of the Dolphins success will certainly be mentioned during the series. Additionally, Miami hasn't had anything resembling a decent quarterback since my esteemed colleague Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season. We're reminded of that every time Miami tries to patch up their gunshot wound with the gauze that is a quarterback selected in the second round. Now it's Tannehill's turn, only he won't be the only one weighed down by the Fins' failures throughout recent history.
8. South Beach
Athletes are only human, and how can anyone expect them to avoid the vice of South Beach, even during the lead-up to the NFL season? OK, it's not like everyone's going to be down there pounding shots on a nightly basis, but we've at least got a very solid wild card in terms of location, if you're looking for the possibility of some unexpected drama.
9. Lofty Predictions
In just the past few weeks, we've heard Bush say he wants to win a rushing title and, more recently, Karlos Dansby say he expects the Dolphins "to win the AFC, period." And this was before we found out the Fins would be featured on a prominently-watched television show. Perhaps the coaching staff will try to limit the amount of absurd prognostications coming from South Beach. It's unlikely that they'll be able to completely limit every player from spitting out something ridiculous. Bonus points if someone can convince Channing Crowder to unretire.
10. Unknown Players
Miami's got the quarterbacks and Bush, but that just about does it in terms of their B-list football stars. However, there are a lot of interesting dudes on the Dolphins that don't get nearly enough run with the general public. Jake Long and Cameron Wake should both have higher profiles than they do for athletic-skill purposes, and every year during Hard Knocks, we're surprised when we find out that certain players on a team's roster are far more interesting than we could ever think.
Which, by the way, is a great way to sum up the 2012 Dolphins as a whole.