Episode four of HBO's "Hard Knocks" is in the books which means there's only one episode that remains. Before we turn to the last page of this wonderful experience, let's take moment to recap everything in this week's episode.
First, we start with defensive line coach Brentson Buckner delivering an empowering speech to the defensive line unit.
I thought this was the best part of the entire episode and Buckner has easily become my favorite coach on the team.
The speech he delivers during the DL meeting is harsh, genuine, and the reality check that a lot of people need in life. Nowadays people don't want tough love. They want to hear positive words of encouragement all the time, but sometimes people need to hear the truth.
I don't know what it's like experiencing the mental strain of being a football player and fighting for a roster spot, but to Buckner's point if you aren't taking it seriously or giving 110% in practice, I agree with him – just leave.
"The storm is coming."
From the blunt comments of Buckner we transition to the more lighthearted and playful remarks of the tight ends, which are targeted at poor Luke Willson.
The roasting of the Canadian native is all in good fun, however, and it's been clear throughout the entirety of this season that the unit has a close bond.
To answer tight ends coach Frank Smith's question whether CFL footballs are different than NFL footballs, I have the answer, and the answer is no.
According to CFLdb.ca/equipment, there's no differentiation in any of the measurements or weight. Both leagues have an inflation pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 psi, have a long circumference of 28 to 28.5 inches, a short circumference of 21 to 21.25 inches, and weigh anywhere from 14 to 15 ounces.
On a more serious note, it's been cool seeing how relatable some of the coaches on the team are (Buckner, Gruden, Frank Smith, etc.).
Smith goes from poking fun and being one of the guys to showing Darren Waller that he has a legitimate support system around him, which I can only imagine is a great feeling. To overcome the things that he has, it's been a long journey that Smith wants to continue supporting him through.
Hard Knocks does a lot of creative and cool stuff, but am I the only one who felt like the "knock if you're with me beat" was strange?
From the weird Gruden remix, we transitioned into Carr trying to help Marcell Ateman realize they should be perfect every time and not just 99 percent of the time.
This is cool for Raiders fans to see because DC takes being a leader seriously and his desire to win is what makes him want to bring the best out of his teammates. To reference C-Wood and hear a little bit about the ways he led feels like everything any Raiders fan could ever want to hear.
Jason Cabinda is a fascinating individual on and off the field, so I'm happy Hard Knocks decided to do a profile on him. He went from being undrafted, to a fixture in Paul Guenther's defense last year, and now has a legitimate shot of being another key contributor in 2019, but I feel as if Hard Knocks didn't really peel back the layers during his segment.
For those at home, the fact his mom played such an important role in this episode and they might not understand why that is.
Jason and his mom are incredibly close, she's from Cameroon, which explains the French accent. She never missed one of his games in high school, she came to at least four or five of Jason's games last year, so having her by his side is a priority to him.
Things people might not know about him: he wanted to be a video game designer as a kid, and if he wasn't in the NFL he'd be on Wall Street.
Oh, and he speaks fluent French.
If you thought you'd had enough of the rookies singing during the team meeting, think again. Ep. 4 picked up the rookie singing once again, and for the most part it was pretty painful to sit through. With seven performances shown, I decided to power rank the best from this year to the worst.
- Maxx Crosby – Buy U a Drank, T-Pain
- Johnathan Abram – U Got It Bad, Usher
- Keelan Doss – My Girl, The Temptations
- Hunter Renfrow – Lean on Me, Bill Withers
- Alec Ingold – Ain't Too Proud to Beg, The Temptations
- Tyler Roemer – Don't Stop Believin', Journey
- Trayvon Mullen – Lean on Me, Bill Withers
Next, we watched Antonio Brown read some endearing messages from fans. The fan mail is a good reminder to him that he's still a role model in the eyes of the public, regardless of who drags his name through the mud.
We also see more of AB's connection with the fans in Winnipeg later, as well as the high school kids at De La Salle.
After that it's all business.
Coach Gruden and the team fly north to take on the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, Alberta, Canada, and he urges the men to grasp the opportunity at hand.
Coach Gruden talked about it all week. There was never any mystery as to who the spotlight would be on this week, as it followed in detail the players on the cusp of making the roster.
I'll go on record now saying I think Keelan Doss is going to make the 53-man roster, and when he does, how cool will it be to forever have this season of Hard Knocks as a reminder of the work he put in as an undrafted rookie?
All the questions I have this week are rather random and all over the place.
Is Drake really on the same level as Wayne Gretzky?
Who has the best random talent on the roster?
Does Antonio Brown write his fans back ever?
Can anyone on the roster actually sing?
How long did it take Gruden to become a pro at reciting numbers backwards from 100 to 1?
I think the clear choice is Coach Gruden.
His weird "knock if you're with me" remix was a little funky, but we can't hold that against him. Gruden is one of the main reasons everyone wanted the Raiders to be featured on Hard Knocks this year, and he hasn't disappointed. Whether it was in the team meeting or giving the refs a hard time on the sideline, he was the best individual in episode four.
Quote of the Episode:
"The storm is coming."
Choice words from Buckner who's preparing his unit for the inevitable… cut day.
Prior to the Raiders 22-21 win over the Packers, his speech was the last kick in the butt to help some of the players wake up and realize there could be an expiration date on their time in the Silver and Black.
Next week on Hard Knocks…
The Oakland Raiders will conclude the preseason and tighten up any areas they need to before the regular season starts.
Unfortunately, I imagine there will be a lot of emphasis on the roster cuts, which is the hardest part of the business, but hopefully the season ends on a positive note.