The Miami Dolphins, as reported by Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post and seen snickering during the HBO Hard Knocks episode 1 at the Chad Johnson interview, debut with 737,000 viewers for the show. Down a full 100,00 from the NY Jets debut two seasons ago. It should also be pointed out that the Jets didn’t have to contend with the Olympics.
For the most part, reviews of Tuesday nights episode have been very positive. The first episode seemed to be more about the introduction of Joe Philbin to Dolphins fans rather than a lesson in breaking sports drama. Sure, there were the occasional colorful moments and some rookies that you so badly want to root for but know that it’s probably going to come up a bit short. In the end though, when the credits began to roll, it all came down to two players who the following day took two surprisingly different approaches to what was aired the night before.
If there was any doubt about Chad Johnson being Chad Johnson, HBO’s Hard Knocks put an end to it. Surprisingly, Chad didn’t come across blatantly ignorant. In fact, I found him quite refreshing, funny, and to use his own word, “loose”. The issue regarding his first media related presser was nothing new. The local media had parlayed that event into a front page banner on most of the sites. Talk of Chad’s future in the porn industry and the F-bombs being dropped throughout was met with the typical opinion, “Chad being Chad”.
On HBOHK, we got to see the aftermath. We got to see Joe Philbin talking to him on the sideline inside the practice bubble. We got to hear the coaches talk about the incident and Philbin’s answer to a direct question about the possibility of Chad’s actions, should they continue costing him his job. A firm yes.
While the show played out, we hosted a chat here on PhinPhanatic.com and for the most part, Chad’s “one-liners” were met with laughter. On the field, Chad Johnson looked more like he did with the Bengals years ago instead of the 15 catch WR last year with New England.
On the other side of that coin, and the field as it were, any doubts as to why Vontae’ Davis is running behind free agent acquisition Richard Marshall was completely laid to rest. Davis is simply out of shape as shown by his getting burned in practice, his huffing on the sideline, and his comments to a fellow defensive-back that he needs “act” like he knows what he is doing.
Davis had a miserable night on HK. The portrayal was far from glowing and there was nothing remotely positive about his performance. His acting was bad too. If the actions on the field were not enough, behind the scenes, the coaches were none to thrilled with him either. Secondary coach Lou Anarumo (I believe) was seen reporting to Joe Philbin in a coaches meeting that Sean Smith had stepped up and that Vontae’ Davis had not. Philbin followed that with a quick story about Davis leaving to go to the bathroom in the middle of a 70 minute practice.
Last year, Davis reportedly showed up to a team meeting hung over which led to his being benched for a period of time the next game. As we saw on HK, some of those issues haven’t left Davis. As his coach was telling him on the sidelines, “when you feel like you can’t go on, that is the time you have to dig deep and push through”. Davis’ reply? ”I don’t have a choice”.
As Hard Knocks ended and Tuesday passed to Wednesday, most figured that the fallout of the portrayal from the night before may have Davis calling BS and Chad Johnson smiling from ear to ear. As it turns out, it was completely the opposite.
Davis took to the mic, all smiles, and said exactly what he needed to say. The coaches were on his rear end and he needed them to be. He wasn’t doing his job. While he smiled at the cameras there was at least the acknowledgment that he was obviously wrong. Perhaps it is that realization that will wake Davis up and make him be the CB that the Dolphins need him to be. Time and this Friday night against Tampa will tell.
Then of course there is Chad Johnson who really wasn’t portrayed as anything but funny, whimsical, and ready to play. Aside from the remarks of a few coaches surrounding one incident, Chad’s jovial smack talk in practice was even well received by the defenders who were covering him. Even the loving banter between he and his new wife was on display with nothing but fun energy and something that the Dolphins fans haven’t seen for a long time, a colorful character who made you laugh.
So what was it that turned him completely off and made him agitated? Walking by the press the following morning, Johnson gave a lame attempt at a wave and said, “I don’t do the media anymore” and walked away. There was no smirk, smile, or the slightest hint that he was being the same straight-faced comedian he was in the days before the premier.
Is this reaction deeper than a simple portrayal on a TV episode? Was the voice over comment, “No one wants to go out a joke” in regards to Johnson changing his name back to, well, Johnson something that triggered an unwanted emotion? Or is this simply a moody Chad Johnson who sets off on the wrong things?
I suppose it will be easier to see if his reaction to the media was real when next weeks episode 2 airs.
As I draw this article to a close, I only point this out because sometimes, things are not always what they seem and sometimes the way a person handles a situation isn’t always the way we expected them too. Like un-drafted rookie TE Les Brown who was given a glowing “Rudy” review by his position coach, Dan Campbell. Only to follow the compliment with a “But he can’t block at all”. HBO did a very nice job of showcasing that inability. How did Brown respond? With a smile, a smirk, and a “I wish they could have at least shown one positive play”. Yeah, that’s how you do it kid.