Rightfully so, episode three of HBO’s Hard Knocks: Los Angeles was skewed back into the favor of the Chargers. We had plenty of personality, laughs, and good ol’ fashioned football action. Next episode can’t get here soon enough.
I won’t rattle on anymore than I have to. Let’s get to the recap.
Coach McGeoghan coming in HOT
Last night’s episode started off turned up to 11 thanks in part to the Bolts’ wide receiver coach, Phil McGeoghan. In an extremely colorful opening scene, one that even rivaled the infamous ending of episode one, McGeoghan did his best to hammer home one simple fact to his receivers: you better block someone on running plays.
The Chargers found a lot of success in the ground game during the 2018 season with the trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Tyrell Williams. They often utilized a wide receiver coming across the formation post-snap to be a lead-blocker for their backs and it was successful quite often. If you want the best examples of this, check out the Cleveland game from that season.
We got the pads on!
Lynn greeted his players during an evening Zoom call to help mentally prep his players before they strapped on the pads for the first time in training camp. What followed was a montage of both Chargers and Rams players going through their first handful of practices with every bit of protection being used. With the lack of content and video from camps this year as opposed to past seasons, this was a welcomed sight.
You want a job? Block the s*** out of someone
We got another dose of Coach McGeoghan about 10 minutes into the episode and we finally get to see the play that left him hot from the opening scene. On a run to the right, second-year player Jason Moore is seen giving a less-than-ideal effort while attempting to block Desmond King who is positioned near the line of scrimmage. Moore even has inside leverage on King, but he over-anticipates King’s path and basically allows King to run unimpeded through his inside shoulder into the backfield.
McGeoghan cannot stress enough how important this is for a receiver to have success in the NFL, going as far as to say there is “life-changing” money in it. He then brings up how lapses in judgement, leading to blown blocking assignments, can be the difference in a win or a loss in the NFL. He had plenty of ammo for this point, bringing up the plethora of losses in 2019 that were all decided by a single score.
“Feed Keenan Allen. Keenan blocks.”
Lynn was shown next watching the same film that Coach McGeoghan was showing his receivers in the prior scene. “It’s terrible,” he muttered to himself. “If you don’t block, you don’t play for me.”
It was a perfect parallel to what viewers just say. All of a sudden, everything McGeoghan said made a bit more sense. Lynn demands his receivers to block and he’ll expect nothing less.
“I go into the Coordinators office every single week. I say ‘Feed Keenan Allen.’ Keenan blocks.” Hearing that, it’s no wonder Allen gets such a large target share on the offense. He puts just as much effort into blocking opposing corners and safeties as he does perfecting his route-running. It all makes perfect sense.
Chris Harris Jr. and Keenan Allen rivals no more
One of my favorite scenes from last night was the rivalry between Chris Harris Jr., from his days in Denver, and Keenan Allen. They’ve have so many battles over the years that it’s still a little surreal to think that they’re teammates now who get to go up against each other everyday in practice. Iron truly sharpens iron, and the Bolts have found a way to expedite that process by bringing one of his biggest rivals into the fold.
In last night’s episode, Harris got the raw end of the deal when their scene together was ended with Harris get crossed over by Allen which caused Harris to stumble backwards while Allen separated with ease on the play. Of course it was followed by some well-meaning trash talk, but each player has more than enough reason to feel confident in their abilities no matter what transpires in practices.
Harris adjusts to life in L.A.
Staying with Harris, the producers focused on him and his wife’s transition to the west coast after living in Colorado for the last nine years. They’ve also got four little girls, all of which have exuberant personalities. They were the unsung stars of the episode, to be honest, offering some light-hearted chuckles while on screen.
Ten years in, it’s Tyrod Time
After a good amount of attention on rookie Justin Herbert through the first two episodes, the producers decided it was time for the actual starting quarterback to get some air time.
Tyrod is an introvert, but that doesn’t stop him from leading the team and the playing the most-important position on a football field. This guy helped the Bills end a 17-year streak of failing to reach the playoffs and how he’s tasked with taking the Chargers back after a dismal 2019 season.
As a player, he’s the furthest thing from Philip Rivers, but that doesn’t mean anything. This is the best team he’s ever been a part of and probably his best chance to reach a high-mark in his career. I think he’s ready to seize the moment.
While he was mic’d up this past week, Taylor made a point to voice his thoughts on recent social matters, including police brutality. “While you’ve got me hot, go ahead and arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” he said while surrounded by his teammates and coaches.
WE FINALLY GOT INGRAM IN THE STUDIO!
From before the first episode aired, I wrote about all the things I wanted to see on this season of Hard Knocks, and one of those things was getting the chance to see Melvin Ingram working on his craft in the studio. It finally happened last night.
Ingram took us into his workshop, “Vulcanic Studioz,” where we got a sneak peek into his creative process. He talked about his emotions and how he’s always been able to channel them into a microphone in the same manner of when he speaks to those closest to him. It just flows out effortlessly.
His latest project is a song called “Me vs. America” that is essentially an emotional catharsis of everything Ingram has been feeling about the current state of the country.
Ingram is back with the bag
Of course the producers also had to show Ingram securing the bag following his week-long “hold-in.” He signed an adjusted contract that guarantees his entire 2020 base salary, which was worth a whopping $14 million.
In one of his first practices back, Ingram ended the team’s four-minute period with an interception off of Justin Hebert. It was the perfect way to put an exclamation point on the return of Ingram, who will be with the Chargers for at least one more season.
Following that practice, quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton made a point to say words of encouragement to Ingram. Hamilton recounted his time spent with the Ravens years ago during their first Super Bowl. Having experienced plenty of those personalities on the team first-hand, Hamilton likened the energy Ingram brings everyday to that of Ray Lewis and other players from that 2011 championship team. He stressed how synergistic it can be with the right guys on the roster and the veteran coach believes the Chargers have something special right now in L.A.
“That’s my nuts.”
During the end credits, Chargers strength coach John Lott was shown demonstrating a variant of a medicine ball toss in which a player takes one huge step before launching the ball at another player’s chest. Lott, partnered with a rookie, kept getting the ball thrown at his groin area by his partner.
“That’s my nuts.....that’s my nuts again...”
It was too funny.