While most expected the second episode of HBO's 'Hard Knocks' series featuring the Miami Dolphins to open up with the arrest of wide receiver Chad Johnson and how the team decided to ultimately release him, it instead opened up pulling at the viewers heartstrings, as Diane Philbin attended the funeral of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid's son, Garrett Reid.
This led to Joe Philbin opening up and talking about his own son that he lost earlier in the year. Michael Philbin drowned in the Fox River in Oshkosh, Wis. back in January, clearly making Reid's loss hit home. Prior to the show, HBO had agreed not to focus on this aspect of Philbin's life, but the situation obviously pushed Joe Philbin to open up and talk about his tragic loss.
After making everyone with a heart cry, the show moved on to another look at tight end Les Brown who's trying to make the Dolphins roster. He gets picked on a bit by the coaches for showing up early just because of the camera's for "Hard Knocks", but he's been a "first in, last out" guy all of training camp. Tight ends coach Dan Campbell focuses in on the fact that while Brown could be a player as a receiver, he's still well behind where he needs to be as a blocker.
Brown's criticisms stem more from the coaches thinking he can get better, seeing that he puts in the work, and pushing him. The same doesn't seem to be the case for third-round pick Michael Egnew, who's been very disappointing in the coaches eyes. Egnew appears in the show to be struggling getting the offense down, causing his position coach to ask veteran tight end Anthony Fasano to stay on Egnew's case. Another tight end, Charles Clay, was in the same boat as Egnew as offensive coordinator Mike Sherman chewed him out in an offensive meeting.
"Charles, I'm telling you right now. I got nothing to say in these meetings about you other than he's not doing his job," Sherman said. "You better start picking your shit up. It wasn't good enough. You hurt us the other day."
Sherman followed up right into Egnew.
"Michael Egnew, where are you?" Sherman asked. "You were terrible. I would cut you today if I was the general manager. Get your head out of your ass, this group is not waiting for you."
The show then moves on to the quarterback battle, with each quarterback talking about how they've done thus far and where they can improve. The show then begins to focus on free agent quarterback David Garrard, who last week was told for now he's the top quarterback on the depth chart. Obviously that changed last week right before the Dolphins first preseason game, as Garrard suffered a knee injury that required surgery.
Viewers of the show also got a look into the infamous rookie hazing, which has most teams forcing their rookies to get up and and sing in front of everyone. Fans were treated with a performance of "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers, performed by first-round pick Ryan Tannehill. Not only to veterans make the rookies sing, but they also give them absurd haircuts and shave their eyebrows. Rookie center Josh Samuda not only lost his eyebrows, but he received a very phallic haircut, which of course drew rounds of laughter from his teammates.
Next for the Dolphins is the focus on their wide receiving group, which is a big question mark heading into the season. It contrasts Roberto Wallace and rookie Chris Hogan, who are quite the opposite styles of receiver. Wallace has the height, weight, athletic ability, and speed that teams drool over, but he seems to struggle to put it all together on the field and get open. In the film room, the coaches nickname him "Ankle Weights" because he looks as if he's running with ankle weights on. Move on to Hogan, who's not the biggest or the fastest and turned down D-I offers for football to play lacrosse at Penn State, has drawn the praise of his coaches and teammates. Running back Reggie Bush nicknamed him "7-11", because he's always seemingly open due to his route running.
The most surprising thing seemed to be Johnson struggling to pick up the Dolphins offense, running the wrong routes, and generally not knowing what he should be doing on a certain play. This was apparently Johnson's downfall with the New England Patriots during the 2011 season. Johnson was clearly frustrated and the coaches clearly frustrated with his performance so far in training camp.
Garrard's injury came as a massive surprise, as it was the day of the Dolphins first preseason game, and the root of the injury was a bit of a mystery. Garrard told the coaching staff that he was watching his kids swimming and turned the wrong way, hearing a crunch. Fortunately for the Dolphins, his injury should keep him out just two to five weeks, but unfortunately for Garrard it's keeping him out two to five weeks. When embroiled in a battle for a starting position, you can't miss the entire preseason.
Matt Moore started the team's first preseason game, to his surprise due to Garrard's injury, but the first team offense struggled to move the football against the Buccaneers. Chad Johnson dropped a surefire first down, Moore turned the football over and then the team moved on to their first-round pick, Ryan Tannehill. The rookie led the team right down the field, but had a touchdown dropped by Roberto Wallace. Overall, Tannehill impressed his coaches and teammates.
The highlight of the show of course is what the episode finished up with, the meeting between Chad Johnson and Joe Philbin leading up to his release. 'Hard Knocks' was able to get the entire meeting on film, which was a bit awkward. Before Johnson is even brought in to meet with Philbin, you get a shot of Philbin on the phone talking about the incidents the team has had already in the short time Johnson has been on the team, including inappropriate tweets, a profanity laden press conference, and now the domestic violence incident. Philbin notes that his temperament isn't great for the team and organization.
It's obvious Johnson knows what's coming from the meeting just from the look on his face as he sits down to explain himself and apologize for embarrassing the team, his coach, and the organization. After explaining that he's thought the situation throughand listening to Johnson's pleas, Philbin lets Johnson know that he doesn't "mesh" with what they're trying to do and that he's been released. While "Hard Knocks" often gives looks into how players are cut and released, this was a first situation that's unique and sheds some light on how coaches handle off the field incidents.
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