Ever since the Oakland Raiders were controversially selected to host HBO’s docuseries, Hard Knocks, the anticipation has been building. Tonight, the fourth episode aired, and the season is right around the corner. 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 Four Review
So full confession, I missed the first four minutes of the show because HBO decided not to put it on HBO GO for another hour and I had to frantically adjust. I did. So when I tuned in, the show was focusing on Luke Willson’s return to Canada. Everyone was giving him hell about being Canadian and teasing how things are different there and singing the Canadian National Anthem. We stay with the tight ends as we get to Darren Waller, who is going to a 12 step meeting in Napa, and we get a montage of the Raiders knocking on wood during team meetings to show everyone’s on the same page. It’s pretty cool.
Next we see Jon Gruden count back from 100 to zero by threes as Derek Carr grills Marcel Ateman about a drop in practice. It’s good to see Carr take a leadership stance, even if he does immediately undercut it by saying “that’s what C-Wood used to do.”
Linebacker Jason Cabinda facetimes his Mom to tell her he got her tickets for the preseason game and she loses it. It’s sweet. We stick with Cabinda, learned about how he was released after he went undrafted in 2018 before rejoining the roster last season. He’s mic’d up in practice and it’s not going well for him. He’s being burned in pass coverage over and over. He does a lot better in run support, even forcing a fumble.
Across the field, another undrafted player is making an impact. Undrafted preseason star Keelan Doss is chatting up Gruden and Hunter Renfrow. Alec Ingold hypes Doss up, talking about how his stats always show up next to the Raider results. Doss is the subject of the Raiders meetings as Carr makes him sing, where he goes with ol’ reliable “My Girl” by The Temptations. Johnathan Abram and Alec Ingold are next up, before “Amari Cooper with a personality” Trayvon Mullen comes up and completely bombs.
Next up, we see Antonio Brown reading fan-mail, who takes a note from a Seahawks fan pretty well. Brown still won’t play during the preseason, and sadly, either will “Mad Maxx” Crosby, who still has the broken hand. He’s in a cast and has the x-ray of his broken bones. He calls Brogan Roback, who ironically, was the star of last year’s Hard Knocks.
Camp breaks and Gruden seems stoked. He said it was the best camp they’d had, and I have to agree that there’s a lot more to be excited about in Oakland this year. We get a quick montage of a cleaning team peeling all the Raider decals off the walls, leaving Napa for good and traveling to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Jason Cabinda reunites with his mom and they walk around town together. A few of the players don’t make the trip because they’re recovering from injuries. Gruden warns everyone to show up at the stadium early and make sure their footwork is good. He tells them they have the opportunity to play because they’re good enough but they have to prove it.
Now we hear all about the terrible field. The positioning of the goalposts create an issue because of the hole in the field, and it’s a huge mess. Carr and Brown goof off before the game and try to convince Gruden to let them throw the ball around. Gruden gives the refs a hard time, asking them to clarify the new rules.
They sing the Canadian national anthem and Luke Willson is hyped up. Gruden is less enthused. He seems really irritated with players that supposedly don’t want to play and the field conditions. Mike Glennon is off his game and Willson isn’t impressing either. Glennon gets benched pretty early, and Nathan Peterman has a chance to earn his spot on the team.
Peterman goes after Doss, who gets a defensive pass interference before making a couple of big grabs. I’d honestly be shocked if Doss wasn’t on the final 53 at this point. Peterman finds fullback Keith Smith for a touchdown, which is devastating for an Ingold fan like myself. Next up, the focus is on Cabinda, who is fighting for a roster spot. He misses a tackle on a screen on third and long and then doesn’t get to the quarterback on a touchdown throw.
At half-time, Gruden is furious at the defense. He tries to fire them up, ordering them to rediscover their swagger and get their confidence back. We see Cabinda make a few tackles as the mic linebacker. Gruden says, “who do we got that can make a play? Put them in. I wanna see Keelan Doss.” Doss gets into the game and he does what Doss does, including his incredible sideline toe-tap.
Peterman gets a chance to win the game in the two-minute offense, and he succeeds. He works them down the field, putting them into field goal range where Daniel Carlson converts. After a 50/50 preseason, Peterman has established himself as the favorite to be Carr’s backup. The Raiders celebrate the win the crowd and Cabinda is reunited with his mom in the crowd.
Frank Smith says “People who have the talent and the work ethic get to do cool things for other people to admire” to Darren Waller.
Any time I see Derek Carr and Antonio Brown together, it gives me a good feeling. Let’s hope that’s something we see a lot more of this season.
Thing That Bothered Me
I really worry about the depth of this team. Every time the spotlight is on someone that isn’t a starter, it’s ugly. Jason Cabinda can’t cover, Luke Willson struggles, and yet again, the backup quarterback situation isn’t pretty, regardless of what Peterman has done in the preseason.
What We Learned
The drama regarding Brown’s helmet is finally, finally over. Carr is taking a leadership position on the team, and surprise, the NFL had a bad experience when they tried to play an NFL game on a field that wasn’t meant for the NFL yet again.
Scenes From Next Time
On the season finale, we learn more about which players do and do not make the roster. We also get to see Gruden chase his players like a maniac and what we’ve waited over a year for, Spider 2Y Banana.
*I’d bet good money that we hear about Josh Jacobs next week*