|'Hard Knocks' first ep showed why the Fins hired Philbin. (AP)|
Remember when we wrote that, despite featuring the Miami Dolphins, Hard Knocks would be awesome? Well, we were right: HBO's first episode of the training-camp show was a slam dunk. And as you might expect, Chad Johnson (nee Ochocinco) stole the show.
But Johnson didn't really hog the cameras in a bad way most of the time. In fact, he dropped one of the all-time great lines in the history of relationship advice when discussing how he fell in love with his wife, Evelyn Lozada.
"If you pause Call of Duty for someone, then that's the f-----g one," Johnson said.
But his decision to spew f-bombs like he was Rex Ryan didn't sit well with everyone. Johnson swearing like a sailor during his first press conference drew him a private conversation with Joe Philbin that the media wasn't aware of prior to Hard Knocks.
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"We all have an obligation, we all have a responsibility and he either needs to fall in line or not," Philbin told the cameras afterwards while also admitting Johnson's unwillingness to cooperate could get him cut.
Philbin was one of the reasons I was pumped for this show and he's proving why he deserved this gig, coming off as a patient, calming influence on his team while also keeping the team aloof (he made a Seinfeld joke!) but focused. It's early, but Philbin looks like the right guy for the job, he's coming across spectacularly in the show (not that anyone around football didn't expect that) and Dolphins fans should be thrilled about being in good hands.
Perhaps the best example of this was his ripping on Vontae Davis for being out of shape and needing to pee too often. Davis was seen on the sideline clearly drained from Philbin's high-intensity practices and apparently kept attempting to use bathroom breaks as a reason to catch his breath. Philbin caught on and ripped in both private and public. I guess we know why he ended up where he did on the depth chart.
The quarterback battle is obviously going to be one of the key components of this season, and that was to be expected too. Matt Moore, David Garrard and Ryan Tannehill have more than attractive blond wives in common -- they're all legitimately in a dogfight for this starting job. Tannehill's obviously got the biggest uphill battle to win it, but based on the access that Hard Knocks provided, it doesn't seem like he's got as big a fight as we might've thought. Of course, based on the fact that Moore ate babyfood and admitted to watching The Bachelorette, maybe he should go ahead and pull himself out of the race.
There are the usual "unheralded" suspects in camp too. Les Brown, a former basketball player turned stock broker turned tight end, is clearly the early favorite to embrace the "hard working scrapster who ends up in a make-or-break scene involving a roster cut." And he's not hurting his case by apologizing to his mom on Twitter for swearing either.
I'm sorry mom... You raised me to be better than that...— Les Brown V (@LesBrownV) August 8, 2012
The first ep of the Fins Hard Knocks also featured a first: someone being cut in the opening scene. Derrick Dennis got kicked off the roster before the Miami flyover even rolled, and then was shown being given his pink slip by Philbin while wearing hair that the veterans colored with leopard-style spots. Ouch.
The long and short of the first episode of Hard Knocks can best be summed up like this: it made the Dolphins interesting. That's not easy to do (no offense, Miami), but it definitely happened, and it's precisely why NFL Films and HBO do such a killer job with this annual series.
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