Responding to Adversity: Miami Dolphins Hard Knocks Episode 4 Showcases MNF Collapse

Episode 4 of this year's in-season Hard Knocks highlighted the Dolphins' MNF meltdown and how the team is built to respond to increased adversity.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has preached it all season: Adversity breeds opportunity. How the team responds to adversity will shape the course of the rest of this season, especially after Monday night.

The fourth episode of this year’s in-season version of Hard Knocks highlighted the worst Dolphins loss in recent memory. Miami led the Tennessee Titans by 14 points with just minutes remaining before yielding two touchdowns (and a two-point conversion) and ultimately losing 28-27.

McDaniel was unequivocal in how he hoped his team would respond.

Hard Knocks Episode 4 Recap

“That’s gonna really hurt for multiple reasons,” McDaniel, alluding both to the upset defeat and the rash of injuries Miami endured, told a dead-silent locker room following the team’s prime-time loss.

“We have to find a way to f–––ing get better at this. Let it hurt. It’s about us playing our very best football as we get to the very end of the season.”

There’s no doubt McDaniel is right about the latter point. What often differentiates the pretenders from the contenders come December and January is almost never about who had the best roster entering Week 1 — it’s who’s on a hot streak when the cold weather strikes.

Miami did not look like a team on a hot streak on Monday night, but McDaniel hopes that adversity in the form of a gut-wrenching loss can galvanize the team as it advances.

“If this is what it takes for us to be our cleanest, best version of ourselves, then f–––ing bring it. If that game forces us to go places not here, so be it.”

The god-like voice of Liev Schreiber, the famous actor and longtime narrative voice-over of the Hard Knocks series, put it best before the final credits rolled on Episode 4.

“There’s nothing worse than losing a game you’d all but won. But adversity is opportunity, a chance to grow.”

MORE: Mike McDaniel’s Challenge — Make Miami Dolphins’ Passing Game More Than Tyreek Hill

If there’s one thing critical to a team rallying around each other in the face of adversity, it’s the culture in the building. And there’s little doubt that the culture in Miami Gardens, Fla., is about as tight-knit as it gets in an NFL locker room.

In Episode 1, Hard Knocks highlighted the offensive line room’s weekly dinners, where they prioritize bonding off the field and practically outlaw talking about football during their weekly meal together.

Episode 2 showed just how devastated the entire team was when budding star pass rusher Jaelan Phillips was lost for the season — and how the team supported him following his Week 12 Achilles tear.

As PFN’s Adam Beasley put it after Episode 3, “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.”

That culture was on full display in Episode 4.

That culture was evident in how the team celebrated Alec Ingold being chosen as the team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Ingold, who was adopted as a child, spends much of his time off the field working as an advocate for adoption and foster parenting.

When All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill was asked about his MVP chances in a press conference earlier this season, he simply replied, “We have a player on this team that’s better than me and means more to this team. His name is Alec Ingold.” While the former portion of the comment may have been mentioned somewhat in jest, the latter portion was genuine. Ingold means a great deal to the Miami Dolphins, both on the field and in the locker room.

That culture was also evident when Raheem Mostert scored his team-record 18th touchdown of the season, a number that ties Mark Clayton for the most in a single Miami Dolphins season. Mostert was clearly emotional after the score, and he was received on the sideline by heaps of praise from Jaylen Waddle, McDaniel, and none other than Ingold. “Love you, brother. You deserve all of it,” Ingold told his teammate.

MORE: What Went Wrong? A Closer Look at Miami Dolphins’ Historic Week 14 Collapse

And, of course, that culture was evident when Hard Knocks cult hero Anthony Campanile, the team’s linebackers coach, made his trademarked hype speech during a team-wide meeting.

“There’s one thing on the planet that’s more of a motivator than money,” Campanile exclaimed. “Your emotional investment, the people you love, what’s most important to you … we’re looking for guys that’ll volunteer to f–––ing fight.”

More Hard Knocks Episode 4 Highlights

  • This week’s episode took time away from the gridiron to focus on players’ families. The show highlighted Mostert’s wife and kids, Ingold’s family — who made cameo appearances not only in the episode but also in the team’s surprise Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year announcement video — and McDaniel’s wife and daughter.
  • HBO’s crew took a drive down the road to visit the Dolphins’ sod farm. That’s right, the Dolphins own a sod farm. Head groundskeeper Tom Wilson, who has worked for the Dolphins for 21 years and leads the crew responsible for Hard Rock Stadium’s playing surface, explained the process of growing and moving Hard Rock’s grass from farm to stadium.
  • Duke Riley got increased time this week, not only on the field taking over for injured middle linebacker Jerome Baker but on Hard Knocks as well. In stepping up at MLB, Riley has also taken on play-calling duties for the defense in Baker’s absence.

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