In the HBO documentary series, Hard Knocks, the producers follow an NFL team every year during training camp and the preseason. This year Hard Knocks follows the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden. Episode 1 brings Gruden back on center stage for the first time since his show, Gruden’s QB camp and time being a commentator on Monday Night Football. Gruden’s personality exemplifies why he is great on camera and why people enjoy watching him on their big screens. I enjoy the aggressive way he coaches which fires me up and has my adrenaline rushing throughout my entire body. This may not be a case for everyone, but there might be another reason. If anyone has paid attention to football, Antonio Brown’s big move to the bay area has shaken up the AFC West. Brown fills in the vacancy of Amari Cooper since Cooper was traded to Dallas last year. Episode 1 was full of interesting characters and early departures from camp.
Richie Incognito makes a return to the NFL after a year in retirement after playing 12 seasons before. Incognito has had a very troubled past from drugs and suspension by the NFL, he has seemed to finally clean up his act in returning to football. However, he is suspended for the first two games of the season for a prior incident at a funeral home in Arizona. His presence to the team brings a sense of leadership since the Raiders are full of young and inexperienced talent.
Ronald Ollie, a star from Netflix’s Last Chance U, made a short stint on the show. Ollie became famous on Last Chance U while the show was at EMCC and he then transferred to Nicholls State. Ollie signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent but his time was short-lived. In Episode 1, Ollie starts to get complacent and Gruden was not having it. The Raiders cut Ollie and everyone’s hopes of Ollie making it in the league have diminished. However, I feel that Ollie can help a team in need of a defensive lineman. Since his size brings a lot to the table he can grind to get better just not enough to be a Gruden grinder.
Episode 1 gives an insight into how the Raiders can make a good run in the AFC West. Antonio Brown’s injury, extreme blistering from misuse in a cryo chamber, may have him sidelined for a month or two but the Raiders have more weapons in store. Derek Carr leading the offense throwing to Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and big man Luke Wilson can produce points with a solid defense to back them up. The Raiders will have struggles but I feel that they can make a lot of teams worried in AFC and win with Gruden in control of the reigns.