Hard Knocks just concluded. Without further delay my thoughts...
Episode 2 had heroes, goats, raised questions, caused some laughs, and tugged at some heartstrings.
The heartstrings: Coach Joe Philbin's wife, Diane, attended the funeral for Andy Reid's son Garrett, who was found dead in his dorm room at the Eagles training camp last week. Obviously the Philbins now share a sad, terrible common pain with the Reids as they also lost their son, Michael, last January.
The goats: Every tight end not named Anthony Fasano has had his moments of utter ineptitude. Les Brown still cannot block. "He's not built like a normal tight end, he's built more like a wide receiver," tight end coach Dan Campbell said. Brown is definitely a project -- at best.
Rookie draft pick Michael Egnew couldn't hear snaps counts, didn't know plays and has this perpetual deer-in-headlights look that is troubling. In a meeting, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman tells him, "I'd cut you today if I was the general manager. I would cut you. Get your head out of your (butt). You were drafted as a high pick. Get your (bleep) going. It's not good enough."
Charles Clay similarly is having trouble with the plays. "Charles, I'm telling you right now, I've got nothing to say about you at these meetings other than, he's not doing his job," Sherman tells Clay in a meeting. "You hurt us the other day."
During the same meeting, Sherman tells the tight ends, "We watch a practice like this, we're calling tight ends around the league. That's how it works. There's no full scholarship."
It should be said, Clay played well against Tampa Bay. Egnew was relevent. Brown barely played and didn't catch a pass. Roberto Wallace also played well in the preseason-opener but coaches are still wondering why he's not a star.
The man has height, weight, speed, athletic ability. Even the Dolphins aren't sure why he's not better. And then we find out during a meeting ...
Coaches joke in that meeting about how Wallace cannot separate from the defender. They start calling him, "ankle weights Wallace."
Obviously, Chad Johnson had his time on the show. He didn't know some of the plays. He makes "a rookie (bleeping) mistake" by his own admission. And of, course, he got cut. The Hard Knocks folks had the entire meeting between Johnson and Philbin in which the veteran was cut. Great work by them.
The heroes: Chris Hogan, whom I told you about two weeks ago on multiple occasions, has earned himself a nickname if not a big promotion from third and fourth-team work: "Always open." Reggie Bush calls him 7-11. "Always open."
"I can live with that nickname," said Hogan, who didn't catch a pass in the preseason-opener but was wide open for a TD. Pat Devlin didn't see him.
The offensive line got approximately two minutes on the show. It's Jake Long and Jacquies Smith getting into a little shoving match that is quickly joined by Richie Incognito, who then announces the offensive is a band of brothers and if you mess with one, you mess with all. That's cool. As long as they, you know, block.
The laughs: The Dolphins have taken to giving their rookies the worst and most embarrassing haircuts on Earth. It is rookie hazing at its height. The worst happened to Josh Samuda, who lost his eyebrows to a razor and had a mohawk shaved into his head in the shape of a penis. Funny. For a pay cable channel. "Glad we're such a first-class organization, Josh," Philbin tells the player in a meeting.
And finally this question: Philbin has this policy he's contrived in which he refuses to even address that injuries happen. He was asked about David Garrard after last Friday's game but refused to explain why his starting quarterback didn't play, citing this policy. Great, I get it. You don't want to give opponents a heads up on injuries.
Except that on Hard Knocks, we find out Garrard suffered his left knee injury while playing with his kids in a pool -- which is a non-football injury. We learn Garrard had 100 cc of fluid drained from the knee the night before the game. We find out the Dolphins really expect him to miss 3-to-4 weeks instead of the 2-to-4 weeks Garrard's camp has been putting out there through back channels.
So much for competitive advantage. Ridiculous.