Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hard Knocks: Looking for Some Talent

It's been a minute since I've posted on the best sports blog you've never read, and to most of my commenters, maybe that's a good thing. YOUR New York Knickerbockers are waiting for the season to start, YOUR New York Yankees play a sport that bores the living daylights out of me if I can't watch it at the ballpark, and the files on top of my desk at work may reach the ceiling at some point.

But no matter what happens, there's always room for TV. And since I've been basing my Manny Pacquiao fight previews on HBO's glorious 24/7 series, it's pretty hard to keep me away from the tube when HBO does their thing.

Hard Knocks goes behind-the-scenes of a real NFL training camp. It started out in 2001, took a break after 2004, then kickstarted again in 2007 when HBO realized that barely anybody watches the network for its movies. In 2010, it landed a hit when the New York Jets hopped on board. We were treated to a litany of amazing clips and soundbytes, featuring head coach Rex Ryan and cornerback Antonio Cromartie:

The Miami Dolphins featured one player that could provide quality entertainment: Chad Johnson. Featured, in the past tense, because Johnson was recently cut after being arrested and charged as a result of a domestic violence spat with his wife. Hard Knocks is about new rookies about whom NFL fans desire to learn, the roster bubble vets fighting for a paycheck, and TV personalities. Just one week into the show, we are left to deal with the first two categories of dudes because Chad felt like Evelyn Lozada's forehead needed some strength training.

(As an aside, does anyone else understand why Chad got a lecture from head coach Joe Philbin for his profanity-laced press conference? I mean, yeah, I understand it. But by agreeing to be on Hard Knocks, Philbin and Dolphins have essentially allowed F-bombs to reach the ears of every viewer. Coaches and players don't have to censor themselves in practice, despite being miked up, but the standard changes just because Chad was at an official press conference? Come on. There should have been a pause button on those issues until HBO left camp.)

Without Chad, Miami has to focus on football, and there just isn't enough football talent to keep me interested. There's a ton of nice guys, a glut of them. But nice guys don't just finish last, they put me to sleep. Literally. The whole episode I kept asking the imaginary people around me, "where's Chad? Where is he? Do I seriously have to listen to Ryan Tannehill sing every week or watch some unknowns play table tennis?" TuckRule thinks that the season is "surprisingly compelling," but I just don't see it.

The Dolphins are bad. Really bad. Tannehill looks like he's got some potential, and the offensive line features some blue chippers in Jake Long and Mike Pouncey, but they are devoid of talent at wide receiver and tight end. And in today's NFL, you just can't get far enough without big-timers to take advantage of the openness that the league's rules foster. Even general manager Jeff Ireland admitted that the WR corps is full of 4-5-6 guys, and not 1-2-3 guys. And while TuckRule might take a flier on third-year receiver Roberto Wallace in his fantasy draft, most of them will join the long unemployment line in a year or two, if not tomorrow. But at least "their arrows are pointing up." Dust off that resume Jeff; you'll be gone before long.

So without the physical talent on the field, what's left to engage us in a post-Chad world? Philbin makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Is there anything less "South Beach" than a old, bald, pencil thin white guy with no personality?

Our only hope, is new football wife, Lauren Tannehill, who reminds me of Ricky Bobby's wife and who TuckRule has deemed the MVP of the show.

Maybe she can save this impending disaster. Otherwise, we're just going to hear a lot of  "Gosh dangit" and "Dag nabbit" coming from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for the rest of the show and the season.

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