I'm not exactly trying to hide my excitement for the debut of the new season of HBO's Hard Knocks. The show is incredibly well done and pulls the viewers in and makes them care about these guys you've never heard of, even if you're not a fan of the team being featured. And while it looked like nobody in the league wanted to be the team under the microscope, the Dolphins finally agreed to do it.
Of all the locations in the NFL, Miami itself is one of the sexiest locations HBO could have hoped for. And it's looking more and more like there could be some good sub-plots going on with the 'Phins too. So here's what you can expect when the show starts.
A pretty solid quarterback battle. Miami found out that Matt Moore could be a decent NFL QB, but they don't seem completely sold on him. Moore started the final 13 games after Chad Henne was injured, throwing for 2,497 yards and 16 TDs on 60% accuracy. Not mind blowing numbers, but serviceable and he only had 9 picks.
After losing his first four starts, Moore finished the year leading the team to six wins in the last nine games. But Miami still signed veteran David Garrard in the offseason and drafted Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick overall. The team seems content to let Tannehill learn behind the two vets, but who will be the starting QB is still up in the air.
The battle to run the ball. Many were surprised when Reggie Bush had his first season ever where he looked like he was running with purpose. Bush had more than a thousand yards and looked comfortable running between the tackles. Rookie Daniel Thomas added nearly 600 yards and looks to get the ball even more this year, though Bush has said he wants to lead the league in rushing. He won't.
The Dolphins also have a beast they imported from the Canadian league in 6'4", 248 pound tailback Jerome Messam. Veteran Steve Slaton is also in the mix, and has a 1,200 yard season under his belt from when he was with Houston. Not to mention Marcus Thigpen (pictured) getting a lot of reps during mini-camps in May.
Ochocinco Johnson. You just know things will be entertaining with Chad around. He's dropped Ochocinco and gone back to Johnson, and he's newly married. More than anything, he's probably anxious to show that last year in New England was a fluke, when he caught only 15 passes. Perhaps Chad will be more comfortable in Miami, after finding out first hand that doing things the Patriot way isn't always the easiest way.
So you've got some basic storylines, plus a new head coach in Joe Philbin, and hopefully the nightlife of Miami comes into play at some point. These guys gotta blow off steam somehow. And of course, as I've said, seeing guys realizing their dream of making an NFL team is always exciting, just as seeing dudes get cut is agonizing. Hard Knocks debuts August 7th on HBO.