Certainly, the tone of any sports documentary is going to be upbeat when the subject of the show is steamrolling teams.
But what sets this iteration apart is that NFL Films and HBO picked a team made up of coaches, players, and staff that genuinely like each other — and celebrate each other’s success.
Hard Knocks Episode 3 Recap
No moment better captures the team’s potent cocktail of extreme confidence and extreme goofiness than Sunday’s now-famous rollercoaster celebration. Tyreek Hill might have scored the touchdown (no big shocker — he does every week), but his teammates shared in the joy.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 4, 2023
Hill’s personality is infectious, and his arrival might have had as much to do with Tua Tagovailoa breaking free of the personality jail he found himself locked in early in his career as anyone.
Certainly, having a coach as upbeat as Mike McDaniel sets the tone.
McDaniel knew Tagovailoa was steamed after throwing three interceptions the previous two weeks, and he encouraged his rising star quarterback to channel that “venom into focus.”
“Everything in my gut tells me Tua’s going to throw for 450 right now,” McDaniel told team CEO Tom Garfinkel during a practice in the leadup to the game. “He’s psychotic this week.”
If needed, there’s no doubt Tagovailoa could have put those numbers up against the freefalling Washington Commanders on Sunday.
Instead, the Dolphins were able to throttle down in the second half after taking a 24-point lead to the break.
Hill had two of the team’s four touchdowns in the first half, including one with a sky-high degree of difficulty.
Andrew Van Ginkel — the episode’s breakout star — had the other one.
It was a foregone conclusion that “Gink,” as the fifth-year linebacker goes by, would have a leading role in this week’s episode. He’s the replacement for the injured Jaelan Phillips, whose season-ending Achilles tendon rupture was captured poignantly by Hard Knocks last week.
Van Ginkel got the full NFL Films treatment, inviting the camera crew into his home and introducing the country to his wife Sam and their children Leo and Ripken.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 6, 2023
That backstory made his massive game — including a pick-six — all the more compelling, and kudos to the production team for getting both sides of the happy phone call between Andrew and Sam after the game.
In short, the vibes are great so far. Will they last? Stay tuned.
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