Episode three of “Hard Knocks” premiered tonight on HBO and while it didn’t necessarily pack the same emotional punch as last week (Joe Philbin discussing the death of his son, Chad Johnson being cut), there was plenty of great behind-the-scenes access to the last week of Dolphins training camp.
The show ended with Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill being told that the rookie has been named the starting quarterback, but a lot led to that moment and to that decision.
Other notes from episode three:
- The show actually began with a look back at the Johnson situation, which honestly seems like months ago at this point. Reggie Bush asks Philbin for a meeting to discuss the situation and shows up to Philbin’s office with Karlos Dansby and Jake Long as the three veteran leaders voice their concerns about the way Johnson’s departure was handled. Philbin offers a sort of leadership council meeting that can take place regularly to discuss things and ensure two-way communication and the players readily agree. A neat behind-the-scenes moment.
- Next, Bush was highlighted for his work on the field. Philbin talks about how Bush leads by example and then Reggie says his goals this year are to pick up four yards everytime he carries the ball, how he wants to lead the league in rushing and how he wants to be a leader. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman praises Bush’s work ethic.
- Rookie RT Jonathan Martin is the next man to go into the spotlight and is praised by OL coach Jim Turner, who predicts Martin will be the Week 1 starter at his position. Second year center Mike Pouncey refers to Martin as “Big Weirdo,” though that may have been due to his hazing haircut. Turner adds that Martin doesn’t talk much, “which is a pleasure.”
- Third-year guard John Jerry is up next and the coaches are clearly frustrated. He appears to be the only player coming in overweight at the moment and is given extra practice work, which leads to what the folks in the competitive eating world refer to as a “reversal” on the field. Turner is working hard with Jerry and at one point says “If he buys in, he’ll be an All-Pro.”
- There was a poignant moment involving veteran offensive lineman Eric Steinbach, who brings up the word “retirement” while speaking with Philbin in his office. It’s a telling picture of an old warrior who’s body is betraying him.
- Next we got to see a bit of the Rookie Talent Show, a portion of which involved the rookies giving a PowerPoint presentation of look-a-likes on the team, including Philbin as Mr. Mackey from South Park and Matt Moore as Jack Black’s character in Nacho Libre. We also get an impressive duet from Isaako Aaitui (guitar) and Jarrell Root (vocals).
- After that fun, there’s a little montage which shows Philbin’s attention to detail: everything from untied shoelaces to a messy locker room to him picking up debris on the playing surface in the practice bubble.
- Next, there was a quick check on Vontae Davis, who appears to be rebounding from a tough start to camp and David Garrard, who’s working to return from a knee injury.
- The preseason game at Carolina is up next and we hear Philbin talking to rookies Tannehill and Martin after some early struggles. We also see Davis pleading his case to both the coach and some teammates after his personal foul call during a dust-up with Panthers WR Steve Smith and most entertainingly, we see Sherman say “That was like giving birth” after the long, Tannehill-led touchdown drive.
- Later in the game, TE coach Dan Campbell gets on rookie Michael Egnew for not blocking downfield and he responds by doing so. We also see the nice catch and run from “7-11,” Chris Hogan, after which WR coach Ken O’Keefe predicts his cult hero status.
- The show concludes with Moore and Tannehill being told that the rookie will be the team’s starting QB. Both guys are first shown with QB coach Zac Taylor and then with Philbin. Moore handles the news with exceptional class and tells Philbin he’s with him 100%. Taylor tells Tannehill that they’re “counting on you to lead us to some big things this year.”
- The episode ends with Tannehill leaving the building after receiving the news…