Ever since the Oakland Raiders were controversially selected to host HBO’s docuseries, Hard Knocks, the anticipation has been building. Tonight, the third episode aired, and we’re creeping closer to the start of the season. Every week, we’ll watch along with the rest of Raider Nation and make notes of our favorite parts, interesting observations, and a brief description of everything that took place.
Hard Knocks Life: Episode Three Review
The show opens with another Jon Gruden team meeting. This time, he’s bringing attention to emphasizing toughness, especially on the road. This is a reference to next week’s preseason game in Canada as well as the brutal regular season schedule that the Raiders have this year. Gruden hands the meeting over to Derek Carr, who insists there’s a rookie that hasn’t sung yet. He introduces… Jon Gruden. Or, at least, someone like Jon Gruden. Impressionist Frank Caliendo comes up, doing his infamous Gruden impression. He sings Lean on Me like Hunter Renfrow before cussing for the sake of cussing.
Next, we get a NFL Network montage about Antonio Browns’ helmet holdout. It cuts to Mike Mayock, who claims he’s known about Brown’s grievance since OTA’s. Brown arrives to camp and we see infamous agent, Drew Rosenhaus is talking to Mayock about finding a helmet. Drew explains the loophole to Mayock, and it seems like everything’s going to work out (uh oh).
Johnathan Abram confronts the Madden Rating Adjusters about the ratings of the safeties, Brown, and Carr. The adjusters ask players who the most underrated Raider is, and the easy answer is tight end, Darren Waller. They hype up how little we know about the explosive tight end as he roasts the defense down the seam.
We learn more about Waller’s past, as he confesses that he’s two years clean and sober after suffering from a serious drug addiction early in his career. He confessed that he was high on every drug imaginable just about every day because he just didn’t care anymore. We catch him working out and you can tell just how much the NFL means to him now.
Backups Part 2
As it seems to do every week, the focus returns to the backup quarterbacks. Neither guy has played well enough to cement themselves as Carr’s backup. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson wanted to know if Gruden wanted Nathan Peterman to back Carr up this year, but Gruden insists that he likes Glennon right now.
Gruden insists the Raiders want to get biggest, faster, and better-conditioned athletes before turning the focus to Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow, the rookie who looks 37 years old, gets made fun for a bit by just about everyone, but Gruden can’t wait to gush about him on the sideline.
The attention returns to Brown, as it inevitably does, and his feet are reportedly a lot better. The camera finds him alone, working out and talking about all of the unnecessary attention. He says he’s tired of all the noise. He says “too much noise right now, more work, less noise”.
Now we meet tight end, Luke Willson, a Bret Hart lookalike, who doesn’t know his way around the Bay Area. He and his father are riding a boat around the bay, talking about how he never thought he’d make it to the NFL. We return to the meeting room, where Gruden is holding court. He’s talking about how dangerous Kyler Murray is before showing a hilarious clip of the Los Angeles Chargers long-snapper coming onto the field during a fumble return, which cracks the team up. The team arrives in Arizona, where they sing the most tone-deaf version of Happy Birthday for Mike Mayock I’ve ever heard.
The team is going through warm-ups, and all the talk is about Antonio Brown’s helmet. The game starts and we see how effortlessly the first unit moves down the field and scores a touchdown against Arizona. The spotlight moves to Darren Waller, who gets work with the second team, blocking well and receiving well before Mike Glennon misses him wide open in the endzone.
Fortunately for Glennon, he hits Rico Gafford on the bomb during the next drive. Mike Glennon continues to play pretty well, targeting Hunter Renfrow, who despite what Nation Twitter tells me, seems like he has a pretty solid spot on the roster. Gruden begs for a fade to Waller, but it’s Luke Willson’s turn, and he brings home the touchdown.
Next we move onto the defense, and they look fantastic. Abram and Clelin Ferrell shine against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense. We see Lamarcus Joyner force the most literal safety on the safety blitz and the team loses their minds. We get a great shot of Brown cutting up on the sideline with his teammates before the camera zooms out and it’s just Brown standing next to a helmet. Say what you will, HBO is good at what they do.
Peterman steps in and he can’t help but throw to Keelan Doss as the two have established a good relationship. Luke Willson is crushing it with blocks and we get several hilarious slow-motion shots of Peterman running. Willson seals the edge so Mack Brown can get into the endzone and the rout is on. The Raiders win big and the team is feeling themselves.
The team is practicing and we get some great shots of Brown. He and Carr are talking about routes and he shares a great moment with Gruden. He thanks Gruden for his support and it seems like everything is great… but then the hammer falls. The loophole doesn’t hold and after this great moment, Brown isn’t at practice.
We get the Mike Mayock “All-In or All-Out” quote (Mayock is All Elite), and fortunately, it doesn’t make us wait long for Brown’s return the next day. Brown’s wearing a helmet and catching one-handed passes from the machine. There’s peace in Raider Nation, but how long will it last?
“When are you ready?’ – Jon Gruden. “I was ready yesterday“- Antonio Brown.
“Too much noise right now. More work, less noise”
A.B. thanking Gruden for his constant support. Guess he never got that in Pittsburgh.
Thing That Bothered Me
That for the third straight week, we have too much Antonio Brown drama.
What We Learned
That assuming Antonio Brown can get a helmet, he’s pretty healthy and ready to go. The Raiders are feeling themselves so far and there’s a whole lot to be excited about.
Scenes From Next Time
The Silver and Black are traveling to Canada to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.