Can Joe Philbin handle 'Hard Knocks'?

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
3:00
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It's hard enough to be a rookie head coach in the NFL. You have to quickly learn personnel, while simultaneously teaching new schemes.

But imagine being a first-year head coach with television cameras recording your every move. That is the unenviable position rookie coach Joe Philbin is in with the Miami Dolphins.

[+] EnlargeJoe Philbin
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireNew Dolphins coach Joe Philbin will be under intense scrutiny thanks to the likes of HBO's "Hard Knocks" capturing Miami's every move this season.
Miami agreed this week to do HBO's popular "Hard Knocks" television series. The Dolphins are the sixth franchise to do it -- the Cowboys did it twice -- but the first with a rookie head coach.

"I am not really sure how it got to be; I wasn't necessarily auditioning for it," Philbin said this week. "But the more I thought about it. ... Let's face it the easy answer is to say, 'No it's a huge distraction. They are going to have cameras everywhere. We are not going to be able to deal with all that stuff.' That's the easy thing to say. But this program is not based on doing what is easy and we thought that it was in the best interest of the organization at this point in time to do it. So that is what we are doing."

I mentioned in the AFC East blog this week that this is a great move overall for the Dolphins. The team is struggling to improve its national perception and can use the extra buzz to help sell tickets. The new Dolphins regime wants to be more open with fans and media, and this is a good step in the right direction.

However, "Hard Knocks" presents a unique set of challenges for Miami's coaches. Philbin and his staff will be making honest (and sometimes harsh assessments) of his own players behind closed doors. Yet, everything can be brought to the public with HBO granted all-access.

What if Philbin rips a player in private and it's taken the wrong way on national television? What if the Dolphins talk about an opponent and subsequently provide bulletin-board material?

"I think the No. 1 thing, coaching from a philosophical standpoint, is you have to be yourself," Philbin said. "So I am not concerned about how I am perceived or look. I have to do what I feel is going to help these players reach their potential and this football team reach its potential."

Philbin has a lot on his plate but seems to have the right mentality. Still, how the Dolphins' new staff handles HBO's cameras being around at all times will be something to watch in training camp.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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