MIAMI GARDENS — Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel got some national shine, and the Dolphins, perhaps the most fun team in the NFL, extended that reputation with Tuesday’s edition of “Hard Knocks,” the sports documentary that’s been following the team for the past three weeks.
Among the highlights of Tuesday’s episode were Van Ginkel, who had a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown in Miami’s 45-15 victory over Washington, at his home with his wife and kids; a brief rehearsal for the roller coaster touchdown celebration; plenty of upbeat moments during practice, including coach Mike McDaniel predicting a big game for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa; and plenty of upbeat moments during the Washington game, including wide receiver Tyreek Hill admitting he was wrong saying Tagovailoa threw a pass to the wrong side.
The Dolphins are making their second appearance on “Hard Knocks” with the first coming in 2012, coach Joe Philbin’s first season.
The episode opened in the quarterbacks room with Tagovailoa professing his liking of singer Michael Buble.
“Michael Buble’s a beast,” Tagovailoa said.
Later, it showed McDaniel in the team meeting room mentioning the five-game losing streak.
“Anybody know our record?” he asked. “Eight and (expletive) three.”
McDaniel cited this as an opportunity to improve on last year’s drop from 8-3 to 8-8.
The episode also mentioned linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay, signing as a replacement for Jaelan Phillips, who is out with an Achilles injury.
After that it was Van Ginkel. The cameras were at his home with his wife, Sam, his high school sweetheart, and their two young boys.
The show then cut back to preparation for the Washington Commanders with McDaniel in the team meeting room saying Commanders quarterback Sam Howell is a baller and the team makes big plays.
That led to a shot of the safety room.
“Zero (expletive) explosives,” safeties coach Joe Kasper said, telling his guys he doesn’t want to see any “explosive” plays.
One part of Tuesday’s episode featured wide receivers coach Wes Welker playfully suggesting to Hill that he publicly but subtly lobby for seven-figure sponsorship for a footrace against Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf. This was after Hill said he had no interest in such an event.
“I’m not racing nobody,” Hill said. “I don’t get paid for that, bruh.”
The topic came up in the wide receivers’ meeting room because it was mentioned that Metcalf established the mark for fastest ball carrier in the NFL this season, exceeding 22 miles per hour on a 73-yard touchdown reception against Dallas.
The show then cut to Hill during a practice when he was casually talking to teammates.
“I hit 23 (mph) my rookie year,” he said. “I probably won’t ever hit that again.”
There was Tagovailoa making practice throws and honing his craft with teammates. Cameras captured a brief chat between McDaniel and Tagovailoa talking about his three interceptions in the previous two games. McDaniel was telling Tagovailoa to channel his frustration into good play.
Later, game footage showed Hill’s 78-yard touchdown reception and the now-famous roller coaster touchdown celebration.
The show also followed Sam Van Ginkel as she watched the Washington game with friends (or relatives) at what appeared to be a bar.
It showed her cheering after her husband’s pick-six touchdown. She said she was trying not to cry.
Someone at the bar, most likely the bartender, remarked to Sam Van Ginkel that the Dolphins, who were 0-4 last December, won a game in December.
“That’s a huge deal,” she replied.
Cameras showed McDaniel awarding game balls in the postgame locker room (Van Ginkel got one) and it showed a postgame phone call between Van Ginkel and Sam.
The episode concluded with running back Raheem Mostert in the quarterbacks room writing his three favorite Christmas movies on the whiteboard (“Home Alone 2,” “Elf” and “A Christmas Story”) and then Tagovailoa accidentally breaking a snowglobe-type toy.
– McDaniel tells team executives Tom Garfinkel and Nat Moore during a practice “my gut is telling me” Tagovailoa will throw for 450 yards this week.
– Cameras showed Hill during a practice suggesting the famed “Soul Train Line” as a touchdown celebration but then the roller coaster was suggested. They went over the routine. They were all sold. The video went viral after they successfully executed the move against Washington.
– Cameras captured Washington coach Ron Rivera telling McDaniel pregame he’s done a good job with the Dolphins.
– Cameras showed Washington offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Hill’s former offensive coordinator in Kansas City congratulating Hill before the game on getting married and chatting him up after the game. It was apparent the two had respect for each other.
– Hill said he didn’t hit top speed on his 78-yard touchdowns. He said he slowed down around the 30-yard line.
– McDaniel, after the Van Ginkel touchdown, jokingly shouted to Jalen Ramsey, who has a 49-yard interception return, “That’s how it’s done!”
– Cameras showed referees talking with McDaniel about his shoes during the game.