Andy Cohen: Hard Knocks Was A Smart Move By Dolphins

Posted Jun 7, 2012

Just got back from Europe and I’ve got to admit I was initially surprised when word filtered overseas that the Dolphins had agreed to be the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks this season. That’s because so many of the previous regimes here wouldn’t have given this a second look. Nick Saban? Are you kidding me?

But this is clearly a new day for the Miami Dolphins and the decision to go with Hard Knocks only underlines this. I’m really looking forward to it. What better way to get insight into the people running this franchise?

What better way to get a closer look at Joe Philbin. I really haven’t gotten to know Joe Philbin yet. I’ve listened to his press conferences. Watched his video interviews. Talked to other people about him. Spoken to him briefly a couple of times. But to see him in action, to see him interact with his players, will bring all of us a lot closer to the new Dolphins coach.

I’m also looking forward to seeing General Manager Jeff Ireland at work. I really believe there are misconceptions about Ireland, about who he is and what makes him tick. Hard Knocks could very well help clear up some of those misconceptions.

The Dolphins have suffered through three straight losing seasons. Their national image has seen better days. Hard Knocks could help re-brand what they are all about. How can that not be beneficial?

Sure, when you have that many cameras rolling at the same time, when the access the Dolphins provide is almost unprecedented, there might be some sensitive moments, some instances that were never intended to go public. But when you weigh this out, the positives so far exceed the potential negatives it really isn’t even close.

Philbin cited three reasons for his enthusiasm toward Hard Knocks:

• It will help showcase his players, help tell their stories.

I believe this is invaluable. When you look at this roster, there are so many young players, so many good young players. Do any of us really know much about them? To see them under this spotlight through their first or second training camp is special stuff. Then you’ve got someone like Reggie Bush, who you know will love all those cameras. And Matt Moore, whose rise to his current status is a great story that should be told.

• To connect with the fans.

I was so glad to hear Philbin say that. This has been a tough stretch for Dolphin fans. Expectations are always so high. Sometimes reality is so difficult to swallow. But this is a new coach, a new staff, so many new faces, Perhaps this close-up look at the Dolphins will help show the fans that this isn’t more of the same, that the new direction is a positive one. More so, I believe Philbin is just happy to reward Dolphins fans with something this unique.

• To show the identity of this football team, the vision it has and the history of this organization.

To me this shows that Joe Philbin possesses the confidence the Dolphins desperately need in a head coach. He is confident in his coaching blueprint, confident in his message and confident enough to want to embrace the history of the Dolphins, whose 40th anniversary this year of The Perfect Team can also make for an enticing subplot.

Philbin also emphasized that this was a football decision. And it is clearly that.  Sure, there will be marketing and promotional benefits, but this is about a football team getting ready for an important season and that will loom much larger than everything else.

We’ll get to see the progress of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and how he deals with the pressure of all those lofty expectations. And, on a larger scale, we’ll get to see how the battle for the No. 1 quarterback job unfolds.

We’ll get to watch this offensive line come together, how Mike Pouncey steps up in Year Two and how someone like rookie tackle Jonathan Martin makes the adjustment to the pro game.

We’ll get to know offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and see how he interacts with his players and maybe how he plans to utilize veteran Reggie Bush and rookie Lamar Miller.

We’ll see how this defense adjusts to some new schemes and new coaching and we’ll see how the competition at safety comes into focus.

We’ll watch as Ireland and Philbin plot strategy, evaluate personnel and make decisions that will affect the future of this franchise. Perhaps more than anything else, I am looking forward to watching Philbin and Ireland and the rapport they build with one another.

There are storylines everywhere. Quality storylines. Things that television will embellish. But the bottom line is this: People will be talking about the Miami Dolphins. And that’s got to be good.

Philbin and Ireland could have easily bypassed this opportunity as so many teams did. Nobody would have questioned it. Nobody would have given it a second thought. But to endorse it as they did, to allow us an up-close view of how they go about their jobs is both impressive and noteworthy.

Can’t wait for the first episode.