Tuesday May 29th, 2012

Ryan Tannehill will try to win the Dolphins' starting quarterback job in front of a national audience. (Getty Images)

HBO needed darn near forever to find a team to feature on this year's version of Hard Knocks, the annual documentary that takes viewers inside a franchise as it preps for the NFL season. Finally, the Miami Dolphins ended HBO's misery -- and string of rejections -- by agreeing to be the focal point of this year's series.

Hard Knocks did not air last year, but the three teams involved in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively, were the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets.

That means the under-the-radar Dolphins have a lot to live up to. Here are a few things to watch for during HBO's upcoming time in South Beach:

1. Who's running the show?: With the way Miami's coaching searches have gone the past two years -- and, remember, the Dolphins had a coach in Tony Sparano for one of those searches -- you can almost hear circus music in your head whenever you think of the franchise's operating procedures. GM Jeff Ireland has been increasingly taking heat for the direction of the Dolphins. But with the promising Joe Philbin in place as head coach and Ryan Tannehill in tow as the QB of the future, the Dolphins might finally be trending upward.

Maybe this summer we'll get a clearer picture of who is calling the shots on the roster and the direction of this franchise. If nothing else, football fans will get to know Miami's roster a little better.

2. Celebrity appeal: Sure, there's always the possibility that Kim Kardashian will try to get back together with Reggie Bush, just so she can be on TV a little more. But with or without her antics, the Dolphins have a long list of possible cameo candidates, thanks to the ownership stakes owned by Gloria Estefan, Emilo Estefan, Jimmy Buffett, Serena and Venus Williams, Fergie, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Who knows which famous face might make an appearance?

3. First-hand look at the QB battle: The Dolphins are one of a handful of NFL teams with a serious quarterback competition heading into OTAs and training camp. Will it be Tannehill, the 2012 first-round pick? How about Matt Moore, the incumbent, who played well in 2011? Or maybe David Garrard, the veteran presence who might have a little left in the tank? Given that Philbin already has talked about waiting until the third week of preseason to name a starter, this topic should be a theme throughout the show.

4. Ryan Tannehill's wife: HBO loves having an attractive female figure to trot out in front of the Hard Knocks cameras -- remember Kelli Croyle during Kansas City's season? -- and Tannehill's wife, Lauren, fits the bill. Seriously, go back and look at the Hard Knocks mentions on Twitter in the few minutes after the Dolphins announced they were taking part. Lauren Tannehill gets as much love as any player on the team.

5. Tracking Philbin's debut: This takes us back to point No. 1 a bit, but with this being Philbin's first head coaching gig in the NFL (or anywhere), it's unclear how he's going to steer the ship. Thanks to Hard Knocks, some of the mystery will be revealed for a national audience. We'll have to wait to see how Philbin handles game-day duties before making any sweeping judgments, but gaining some insight should be entertaining.

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