We're nearly at the midway point of the Hard Knocks season, and this should be the part where business is about to, by God, pick up. We were told last week that the producers would be introducing a scary new character by the name of "Jadeveon Clowney," the quarterback competition is beginning to heat up, and this could also be the episode where Arian Foster's character returns from the dead, possibly with amnesia, like the ten different times that Marlena on Days of our Lives returned to Salem with amnesia.
Let's see what all went down on Tuesday night:
1. The show begins with J.J. Watt gathering the defense around him, and he proceeds to give a speech that has a higher "fuck per minute" ratio than a Drew Magary column on Deadspin:
"Hey, the philosophy of this fuckin' squad is off the field, we're good-ass dudes. We're nice fuckin' guys, we do the right thing. On the field? When you step on the field, you're the baddest fucker on the planet. And together, we're the baddest fuckin' team on the planet, and that's the way we're gonna attack every fuckin' day. I don't care who walks into our building, I don't care whose building we walk into…we're the baddest fuckers out there! Texans on three!"
I don't think I've ever seen someone spew so many f-bombs while also trying to point out via screaming that he and his boys are a "bunch of good-ass dudes." Kudos, J.J., for the most schizo fire-up speech ever! Also, brace yourselves, elementary school teachers. You're about to get a bunch of grade schoolers spewing the f-word at you and using the excuse "But I'm a good-ass dude!" to try to get out of detention.
2. We're now into Epsiode 3, and if the cameras are finding random rookies that you've never heard of, at this point in the season, that's likely terrible news for said rookies. Episode 3 is when cuts start happening. Today's soon-to-be endangered species is defensive end Jasper Coleman, who gets called into Rick Smith's office for the purpose of getting his unconditional release. Also, Coleman's release opens a spot to sign former Texan Quintin Demps, who will provide safety depth and a sublime beard.
2a. My request to the producers of Hard Knocks — on the scenes where undrafted rookies are walking into Rick Smith's office, play this music underneath…
I know that's kind of cold, but Game of Thrones fans will enjoy it! I call that cross-promotion!
3. Hey, it's Jadeveon Clowney! He's back on the practice field! I just thought he flew in for games!
4. The Texans are running a goal line drill, and Bill O'Brien specifically demands that J.J. Watt get his ass into the game. Watt is like, "Yeah, Coach, I'll do it…because I'm a GOOD-ASS DUDE!" On the very next play, Watt pops the ball loose on a jarring hit to Alfred Blue, who may or may not still be suffering from mental anguish over Brian Cushing's embarrassment of him last week in the blitz pickup drill. (If HK were a sitcom, Blue is like Kevin from The Office.) J.J. Watt screams about making a play and the creators of Madden all vote unanimously to make him the first player ever with a Madden score of more than 100. (They didn't, I'm kidding, but it would be totally justifiable.)
5. Cornerback Charles James, my new favorite Texan, is getting reps at running back, as coaches scream the slogan "the more you can do." Great, now every employer is going to be demanding that its workers find some ancillary skill that they can perform in addition to their actual jobs, all in the name of Charles James and "the more you can do." Stop showing off, James!
6. Brian Cushing vomits roughly four different times while taking a knee. As best I can tell, the meal he is vomiting up appears to be some sort of orange energy drink. Or lasagna. He proudly points out to a teammate the puddle of vomit he just produced as if it's a home theater he just spent three months building with his own hands.
DELETED SCENE: Cushing DDT-ing Alfred Blue into the piddle o' vomit face first..
7. It's ROOKIE SKIT TIME, and the warmup act is assistant strength coach Sean Hayes doing a pretty sweet Ric Flair impression. It's not as good as Hayes's Randy Savage, but admittedly a week's worth of sex and free pizza isn't as good as Hayes's Randy Savage. Khari Lee does a Bill O'Brien impersonation that is one of the funniest moments in HBO history. I have to say that after he failed to get out of bounds on the final play of the Broncos game, I was thinking I wanted Lee cut. Now I think I want him to move in with me.
8. If Chris Polk makes the team and the Go Texans store doesn't make "Bang Bang, Chicken and Shrimp" T-shirts, they should fire someone in marketing.
9. We get our first Travis Labhart sighting! (I swoon!) As it turns out, Labby's the pseudo-comissioner for a locker room game the players all partake in called "swennis," which looks like a funny way to describe a "sweaty penis" but is actually like a weird combination of soccer, volleyball and tennis. They cut to a scene of some of the guys playing this game while "Playing With The Boys" by Kenny Loggins runs underneath. To the Hard Knocks producers — just know, it's only an homage to Top Gun if the guys are shirtless and sweaty.
10. Charles James walks up to Peyton Manning during warmups to tell him how awesome he thinks Manning is, and Manning looks at him with a "How did you sneak down here onto the field, kid?" look on his face.
11. It's the second quarter of last Saturday's game, and Bill O'Brien calls a time-out so he can gather the entire offense around him. Oh dear, this isn't going to go well. Generally speaking, a coach's level of pissed-off-edness is directly proportional to the number of players he gathers around him during a time-out. As best I can tell, O'Brien is ALL THE WAY pissed. He basically gives the football equivalent of the Bull Durham "lolly gaggers" speech to his entire offense...
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12. It's Jack O'Brien's 13th birthday. Jack is Bill O'Brien's older son and he has a rare brain disorder called lissencephaly, which originally put his life expectancy at two years old when he was born. He's now 13, which is a billion percent awesome. We get our first visit to the O'Brien house for Jack's birthday party, and a heavy dose of perspective. The room is getting dusty. Thank you, Hard Knocks. God bless you, Jack. Colleen O'Brien for President.
13. Final scene, and here it is — the announcement of a starting quarterback. I don't want to tell the producers how to do their job, but I would have a Monday Night RAW-style graphic showing Hoyer and Mallett, like they're ready to face off in a Texas Death Match. O'Brien heads into the quarterback film room and informs Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett that Hoyer will be the starting quarterback, which inspires the entire city of Houston to drive to the grocery store (cautiously in the right-hand lane, mind you) and buy a half gallon of vanilla ice cream to celebrate. O'Brien lays out his expectations for both guys, while Mallett stares daggers through him and tries to remember where he socked away his crossbow so he can murder Hoyer. O'Brien leaves the room, walks down the hallway and the door closes behind him to end the episode. O'Brien's "old man walk" as he strolls down the hallway is a solid 13 on a scale of 1 to 10, even though he's only 45 years old.
DELETED SCENE: Mallett keying O'Brien's car in the parking lot before dumping five gallons of battery acid on the hood, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.