Familiar stories, not much sizzle in “Hard Knocks”
Three weeks in, the most memorable line of this year’s “Hard Knocks” documentary series on the Rams remains coach Jeff Fisher telling his players he’d cut Deon Long for participating in “some 7-9 b------t” and that Fisher would not be putting up with 7-9 b------t.
The show is still good. The cast is just very, um, 7-9.
The unfiltered access is great. The F-bombs thrown around by Fisher and defensive line coach Mike Waufle have been great. But the stories are just OK.
The Rams can’t have Todd Gurley get hurt. Case Keenum is the quarterback until Jared Goff is ready. A bunch of guys are chasing dreams. Being in LA means getting to go to Disneyland on an off day.
There just hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of new or dramatic.
Tuesday night’s third episode -- the halfway point, essentially -- did provide some unscripted and gut-wrenching television when undrafted rookie wide receiver Paul McRoberts sat in Fisher’s office not long after learning his stepbrother, with whom he’d grown up, had been murdered.
“My teammates and my coaches let me know it’s OK to cry,” McRoberts said in probably the most powerful moment of the series to date.
The highlight of the third episode, or at least the most colorful moment, came when Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks was talking with trainers during last weekend’s preseason game. Westbrooks had been hit low and high by Chiefs blockers, and though a chop block penalty was called, the Rams were not pleased.
Cameras caught Fisher on the field staring in the direction of the Chiefs bench and caught Waufle yelling at Chiefs tackle Jah Reid, who had hit Westbrooks somewhere near the knee.
“What the f--- is that No. 75? You f-----g a-----e,” Waufle screamed. “You shouldn’t be in the league.”
Westbrooks limped off and said he wanted to go back into the game, which was at least a bit of good news.
This edition of “Hard Knocks” has become more about those moments and stories of players dealing with dreams that could soon be over than it’s been about colorful characters or stars. Even Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, played a bit part in the third episode.
He’s the future. That much is clear. But for the next two weeks, he’s still a backup -- and the show will probably continue to focus on guys who might not be in the team’s plans.