There were snickers in the media, there were fans that wanted to hang Jeff Ireland and others who called the decision to do Hard Knocks by the Miami Dophins just another Stephen Ross celebrity showboat. After watching the first episode of the HBO series, I can tell you every single one of them is wrong. This is more than the Rex Ryan “BS” of a couple of years ago. This is the new Miami Dolphins. This is the look at Joe Philbin that millions of fans outside of Miami need to see.
This was a needed message from the Dolphins to their fans that the closed door policies of the past are gone.
Tonight’s premier episode introduces you to the class that is Joe Philbin. If you don’t know the man or his style, Hard Knocks gives it to you up close and personal. Joe Philbin doesn’t drop the word “fuck”. He drops “f-bombs”. He doesn’t say “son of a bitch”, he says “son of a gun”. The practices are fast paced and the decision to waste not time by employing two back to back units on the field is brilliant.
Inside the halls of the Dolphins training facility, we see that Philbin treats his men like men. He treats them with respect. The Chad Johnson presser in which he dropped the “F-bom” repeatedly was met with not harsh words but instead a man to man discussion from his coach that ended with, “you need to be able to come to me, and I need to be able to come to you”. To cameras when asked if Johnson’s behavior could cost him a spot on the final roster, Philbin said absolutely.
HBO Hard Knocks takes you off the field and into the team meeting rooms and coaching rooms where we hear the coaches discuss the good and the bad of players. We get to go into the mindset of an un-drafted rookie like TE Les Brown and see how he resembles Notre Dame’s “Rudy” so closely. Big on “want to”, never quits, but simply doesn’t have the ability at this point to get the job done.
The season of Hard Knocks has only begun. We are one week into it with an entire two weeks crammed in to get us caught up. This first episode took us from the day prior to the start of camp to this past weekends scrimmage. There is so much more to go.
This season of the show will not likely be as vocally entertaining as Rex Ryan’s Jets season was. Joe Philbin is not Rex Ryan and it’s easy to see that Joe Philbin is not Tony Sparano either. It’s very difficult to watch Philbin coach and not genuinely like and respect the man. He and his coaches actually teach the players what they are doing wrong instead of just yelling at them to do it again. They pull players off to the side and talk to them like men.
The mindset in Miami is changing and it’s easy to see it on the way the players are stepping up to become leaders at different positions, how they are working as a team and not as individuals. Even Chad Johnson seems more on the page of being himself so long as “himself” doesn’t stop the progress of the team.
For a team that has been shrouded in black nothingness for the last four years, it’s refreshing to see the team in a national spotlight with their blinds open for the world to see. HBO Hard Knocks might be considered boring by other NFL fans who don’t follow the Dolphins. If that is the case, don’t bother with their reviews of this season. This is a season of change for the Dolphins. Hard Knocks gets you pumped and ready. It fills you with energy and most of all, gives you the insight into the man who is tasked with leading this team back to something more than middle of the road.
Joe Philbin may not succeed in the long term, but for a first year head coach, he is easily showing a grasp of what needs to be done and what needs to be taught. He is teaching fundamental football by treating his team like men.
If you haven’t got HBO, do yourself the favor of spending the 12 bucks a month for the next two months and add it. You are seriously missing a chance to look into the eyes of the Miami Dolphins future…one that tonight proved is a lot brighter than it has been in the last few years.