What The New England Patriots Can Learn From "Hard Knocks"

Hard Knocks is frankly amazing TV for any NFL fan. Unprecedented access into a team's training camp makes for fascinating viewing. Featuring on it this year are the Miami Dolphins, AFC East rivals of the Patriots, so I watched the premiere with added interest. Here are my thoughts:

Chad Johnson is looking to bounce back in Miami in 2012
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  • Joe Philbin looks like a good Head Coach. Having been an assistant coach for many years, he's learnt a few things. Things like having two offenses and two defenses playing at the same time seems like a simple idea, but innovative at the same time. He also looks like he's building a good rapport with his players. How the players take to him will be something to look out for over the next few weeks.
  • Speaking of his players, Chad Ochocinco Johnson looks like a new man. Based on what I saw this week, there was no way he could succeed in New England. If he really is a man who needs to be able to express himself off the field like he does to play well, it was never going to work out. Rob Gronkowski's summer of activity was radical enough, imagine Chad allowed to run free by Bill Belichick, although Philbin tried to reel him in at one point. Either way, he looked pretty good in Miami's offense.
  • So who will be throwing to ball to Johnson this year? Going into their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the depth chart order is David Garrard, then Matt Moore, then Ryan Tannehill. However, everyone at Dolphins camp was very encouraged by Tannehill, the teams first round pick of the 2012 draft. If he can keep it up, he looks like he could be the QB of the future in South Beach. For now, it looks like the starting job is between Garrard, the free agent pickup who was solid for 9 years in Jacksonville, and after a year off he's back to play, and Moore, who won the respect of his team mates at the end of last season with some good performances and getting some wins.
  • There wasn't much of the defense on Hard Knocks this week, but they did focus on Vontae Davis. He didn't impress, he got beaten a lot in practice and kept saying he was gassed, and he didn't seem to be able to keep up. Good news for New England, as Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels can dial up some no huddle offense to take advantage of this. It will be interesting to look how the likes of Cameron Wake are doing, as he his the centerpiece of their defense.
Just like the New York Jets in 2010, this series of Hark Knocks will continue to be good viewing for an AFC East fans. Especially with Chad Johnson providing some character, rather than Rex Ryan's sheer arrogance.