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Hard Knocks: In Season With the Miami Dolphins Episode 1 recap

Check your pulse if you’re not fired up!

Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Hard Knocks: In Season With the Miami Dolphins premiered on Nov. 21, following coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and the rest of the franchise for the remainder of the season. The Indianapolis Colts appeared on the show in 2021, and the Arizona Cardinals had the honor last season.

Miami is coming off a 20-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and has won four of the last six games since falling to the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 1. McDaniel’s offense — highlighted by Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle — leads the league in both points and yards per game, and will likely steal the spotlight early and often.

Defensively, Jalen Ramsey has three interceptions in three games since returning from a preseason knee injury. As a unit, Vic Fangio’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points since Week 5 and features five players with at least four sacks this season.

Before we begin — take a trip to 2012 — the last time Miami appeared on Hard Knocks. Also, be sure that your HBO subscription is ready to go!

Mike McDaniel sets the tone early

Whether it’s a three-game losing streak or seeing a camera in every corner of the room — you will feel uncomfortable eventually. McDaniel said he was fired up to be part of the show and promised to be his authentic self throughout the show — awesome.


April 17 was the first day of the 2023 season, and McDaniel couldn’t be happier to where the team is at 127 days later — with a 7-3 record and first in the AFC East.

Back from the bye week

The show starts with Wes Welker jazzed about Tyreek Hill’s route running in the first practice back from the bye week. BTW - Hill got married during the bye!

We get an inside look at Hill’s relationship with his wife, Keeta Vaccaro Hill, discussing “business stuff’ and his post-career dreams. The look at Hill’s life off the field is followed by a highlight reel as Miami’s top receiver continues his push toward 2,000 yards.

Cornrow Tua!

As teased in the preview, we see the “new Tua” and his new hairstyle. Following some fun in the QB room, Tagovailoa details the speed in Miami’s offense and how Hill has the fastest speed this season. In fact, the top five fastest ball carriers are all Dolphins.

Tagovailoa talks about ignoring the noise, especially after a loss — mixed with some practice highlights and the helmet camera. He also describes McDaniel’s swagger and how he allows everyone to be themselves. This team can’t stop saying good things about their head coach — I’d say that’s a good thing!

Stopping Maxx Crosby

“What a cool player because he has a relentless motor and he doesn’t take any downs off,” McDaniel said about playing Las Vegas Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby. It starts in the offensive meeting room and ends at dinner with thoughts from Terron Armstead and the rest of Miami’s offensive line.

We’re taken back to the locker room where quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell shows how Crosby can get under the skin of quarterbacks with his physicality. In practice, McDaniel even had practice squad linebacker Quinton Bell replicating Crosby’s tactics.

We see Bell knocking Tagovailoa at the end of every play — did you ever think this would be a focus of practice? Tagovailoa said it’s important to win the mental game, and this was one of the steps.

Tagovailoa complimented Bell after each play and even praised Crosby during the game!

2023 Cake Leaderboard

The Defensive Meeting begins with Jaelan Phillips, Zach Sieler, and Bradley Chubb all receiving cakes for playing well on Sunday.

“Apparently a lot of guys like cake,” McDaniel said of the tradition.

Week 11: Raiders at Dolphins

The last 20 minutes of Episode 1 were dedicated to the 20-13 win over the Raiders. The refs remind wide receiver Tyreek Hill that he can’t throw up a peace sign — even if he’s spreading world peace.

“I’m the best in the world,” Hill says after his touchdown reception.

McDaniel narrates as he tries to make eye contact with Crosby — I assume to take him off his game. Crosby gets well-deserved highlights for being a relentless passrusher and edge-setting run stuffer.

“98 (Crosby’s number) may be different — I didn’t know he was that good,” Hill said.

Hill couldn’t move his hand in the second quarter after getting tackled. He remained in the game and hit his hand again on a bubble screen that didn’t reach the line of scrimmage. I don’t think McDaniel should call screens to Hill anytime soon.

The defense finally got its due in the second half. It started with Ramsey’s first diving interception. Vic Fangio’s defense dominated the fourth quarter, and the pass rush bothered quarterback Aidan O’Connell for most of the final 12 minutes.

Hill and Ramsey earned game balls before McDaniel praised the team's focus and mindset on the sideline. Tagovailoa closes the episode by telling his teammates he has to be better — we’ll see come Friday.