The Raiders are speeding towards the start of their 2019 regular season and Hard Knocks is there to document every step on the way. As Episode 3 arrives, the biggest question remains how much they’ll go into detail about Antonio Brown’s erratic behavior.
We don’t expect that to be the sole focus of the show, but it would represent an epic failure by HBO if they duck it. We deserve to see a healthy portion of crazy from AB84. Anything less will be a massive disappointment.
Read on to walk through the episode with me via my list of 17 observations. As usual, some will deal with football, but others will be entirely designed for light-hearted entertainment.
1. Frank Caliendo is a lot funnier on this show than he’s ever been on a certain network’s pre-game shows. Television executives, please take note.
2. Would there have been a better NFL owner for Las Vegas than the late Al Davis? Just imagine him leaning over the craps table yelling “Just Win Baby!”
3. This has to be the first time Antonio Brown has been compared to Willy Wonka. What are the odds AB knows who that is?
4. Jon Gruden wants to give Brown credit for “standing up for what he believes in.” Give us a break Chucky, your receiver isn’t taking a stand on racial equality here.
5. Bill Romanowski is dispensing sage advice to Antonio Brown. This does not bode well for Raiders fans.
6. Darren Waller is a player all Fantasy Football owners should know. Jared Cook left a lot of potential targets open at the tight end position. Waller has the size and athleticism to pick up a healthy portion of them. He is worth a late-round flier in your draft.
7. Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman are still battling it out for the backup quarterback spot. This is another reality that doesn’t bode well for Raiders fans. Can Mike Mayock really not find a better option? Keep an eye on this when rosters around the league start to get cut down. There’s no guarantee either of these guys will make the Week 1 roster.
8. Hunter Renfrow is destined to be a guy who becomes a high priority fantasy waiver claim after he puts up big numbers in a Raiders blowout. Don’t draft him. There won’t be enough targets in this offense to make him relevant unless the roster sees a lot of injuries.
9. Richie Incognito is now giving Antonio Brown advice. This also doesn’t bode well for Raiders fans.
10. “Men lie, women lie, but the analytics don’t”-Antonio Brown
11. We’re not sure if Luke Wilson should be more ashamed of his hair cut or his calves? Ok, yes we are..it’s the hair.
12. Props to the guys with the salmon signs in the crowd, that’s solid work.
13. On a more serious note, this episode has to make you feel better about Antonio Brown’s immediate future with the Raiders. He looked to be engaged with his coaches and teammates. That’s a far cry from how he’s been portrayed by the mainstream media this week. The truth is likely somewhere in between those two narratives, but it’s good to see that Brown hasn’t completely lost his mind. He might not be quite ready to suit up for Oakland when Week 1 arrives, but he is still in position to have a really productive season if he can stay healthy. Oakland will also need to stay in playoff contention to make sure he stays engaged. If they fall out of contention, he becomes a potential locker room cancer.
14. Did HBO really try to make Glennon look good by showing him completing the most wide open skinny post of the preseason? It was a high school throw, producers need to work harder to push the narrative that Glennon is a competent backup.
15. It’s impossible to know whether or not the Raiders pass rush has improved or if the Cardinals have the worst protection scheme in the NFL. It’s worth noting that Oakland had a lot of safeties near the line of scrimmage on their negative plays. That scheme might not work against more accomplished offenses.
16. Gruden really didn’t have a choice over whether or not he was going to support Brown, but he made a good move by doing it so publicly. The star receiver clearly feels somewhat indebted to his head coach. That could pay off big for the Raiders when times get tough this season.
17. Mayock clearly has less patience for Brown than his head coach. Despite his tough words, he’s not in a position to really do anything other than wait for his star receiver to show back up. It’s not like they’re going to cut him. The Raiders are stuck with Brown and his big money contract whether they like it or not.