Tuesday night’s episode was, at times, hard to watch. It started with an emotional opening scene that depicted Rams head coach Sean McVay viewing the viral video of Kenosha-resident Jacob Blake getting shot in the back seven times for the first time.
The 34 year old’s reaction was as organic as it gets. It was shock-and-awe in it’s purest form.
“Wait, are you f***ing kidding?”
It was phrase uttered by just about everyone, regardless of what you believe actually transpired in Wisconsin.
The whole interaction set the scene for a powerful episode that was equal parts entertaining and emotional. While there was still a healthy amount of on-field football action, the scenes that spoke the loudest, and the ones that had the biggest impact on the audience, did not involve helmets and pads.
With that being said, let’s get into the recap.
Mike Williams: One of the best jump 50/50 ball receivers in recent memory?
The first “lighter” scene of the episode started with Coach Phil McGeoghan discussing Mike William’s propensity for reeling in the deep ball, especially when he’s being contested. At 6’4 and 220 pounds, he’s a large human being who can out-muscle most corners. He’s also adept as using his frame to position himself for the best possible outcome before he ever takes off from the ground.
McGeoghan — acting as a broadcast booth announcer — went through a play by Williams in which he made one of these patented 50/50 catches, ending his imitation by saying Williams “may be one of the best to do it over the last 15-20 years.”
Down Goes Mike-Will
This was definitely one of the harder parts to watch of the episode, especially as a former player who has seen these types of things happen. We all know Williams went down with a shoulder sprain early last week, but seeing it unfold in real time just hit different.
The cursing from Coach McGeoghan and his sprint over to Williams brought back memories of seeing my old teammates lying on the ground in pain. It’s a hard sight to see. Eventually Williams got up and walked away under his own power, but he was really holding his right arm still.
He was hurt, unsurprisingly, while trying to make a spectacular catch. This one had him lay out a bit more horizontally than he’s used to and he came down directly on the shoulder of his outstretch arm. I’ll tell you now, it certainly did not look good on instant replay.
As of right now, Lynn has said that he will miss somewhere between 2-4 weeks, meaning he may miss the opener against the Bengals and their first tilt with the Chiefs.
Herbert gets humbled
Episode one showed rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in a positive light. He made some good throws and even better ones against air. But his first minutes of the spotlight in episode four were a reminder to all young players that you’re not always going to be on top of your game day-in and day-out.
The proceeding montage featured several bad throws by Herbert, including an easy interception on an underthrow to 6’8 Donald Parham in the end zone. He got plenty of pep talks from his teammates and Pep Hamilton following the down day, and more than enough reminders to keep his head up.
Anthony Lynn, the former UDFA
Preseason games were not a thing this year and it has only led coaches and players alike to wonder what their careers would have been like if they had to go through such an unusual offseason like this. Lynn, of course, was a former undrafted player who wound up winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.
One of the most common questions that’s been asked this offseason has been, “Would Austin Ekeler have made the Chargers if he didn’t have any preseason games?” The answer to that is probably a big, fat “no.” But luckily for the Bolts, they don’t have to deal with that reality.
The goal line drill, a.k.a. the LT special
Last year, fans were introduced to the goal line drill done by the running backs to practice leaping over the pile of players at the one-yard line. On top of two trash cans, the coaches stack agility bags one at a time, giving each a chance to dive over the top without knocking over the stack. One after the other they were disqualified until only Ekeler and Justin Jackson remained.
Five bags were stacked on top of the trash cans before each made their first attempt. Jackson went first and narrowly nipped the top bag, causing the pile to tumble. After leaping over five bags last season, Jackson couldn’t get it done in 2020. Ekeler showed up the rest of the position group, making five bags look easy once again. He remains the top dog in this drill.
The Haka = Instant and intense adrenaline
THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE ENTIRE SHOW.
When the Chargers first announced that they had signed DT Breiden Fehoko, I think I watched every individual video on Youtube of him and his family performing the Haka prior to his games at LSU. The second Fehoko got spotlighted on the show, I knew this had to be right around the corner.
instant hype @breidenfehoko4 | #HardKnocks pic.twitter.com/0lynvZEWyK— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 2, 2020
It goes without saying, but I didn’t sleep all that great afterwards with the incredible amounts of adrenaline running through my body.
“No. 10 is nice, bro”
I guess the producers of the show couldn’t stand to leave Herbert hanging with his underwhelming performance earlier in the show so they made a point to also highlight his improved practice later on in the week. Herbert was shown to be on point over and over again. Late in the practice, Herbert his a streaking Darius Jennings up the left sideline for a touchdown that was met with a “GREAT THROW, HERBIE!” from Coach McGeoghan.
At one point, veteran CB Chris Harris Jr. was seen chatting with some of the other defensive backs about Herbert, going as far as to say, “#10 is nice bro!”
Addressing the elephant in the room
The final parts of the show got right back to the same tune that the episode started with. Lynn is seen on a video call with his players to discuss what they should do moving forward following the rash of protests and postpones throughout the NBA and MLB.
On the call, Lynn believes they must take action, but doesn’t believe that means they should go about canceling practices. In fact, he feels there’s nothing more they can do to honor Jacob Blake other than to take their message to the media after they get done putting in the work they need to. However, Lynn says he doesn’t want anyone out there on the practice field if they’re not in the right mindset, so they need to come to a decision as a team before decisions can be made.
Chargers in awe of SoFi Stadium
This was just a cool scene before things got really serious. Last Thursday was the first time many members of the Chargers got to see their brand new home stadium. Seeing the wonder and wide eyes all across the team was just a neat experience.
Denzel Perryman was playing with a butterfly at one point, which was hilarious in its own glorious way.
“We got to have a damn plan, men. And that’s Black and White.”
I don’t know about any of you, but special teams coach George Stewart has one of those voices that makes you want to shut up and listen, regardless of the volume. At 62 years old, he’s been through some stuff. He’s seen more in his life than almost anyone else in that franchise.
62 years...— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 2, 2020
Coach Stew from the heart. pic.twitter.com/UvQxo4q16J
Stewart poured out the raw emotion that can only come with the specific experience. The pain was evident — the frustration even more so. At the end of his speech, Stewart asserted, “We got to have a damn plan, men. And that’s Black and White.” And you know what? He absolutely hit the mark. There’s been so, so many words tossed back and forth up to this point. Actions will always be more meaningful than words. I’m incredibly proud of these players for taking this stand and using their platform for change.
“We don’t have answer today, and I can’t promise we’ll have the answers tomorrow.”
The finale of the show is a really heartfelt montage of scenes depicting Coach Lynn and his players taking turns speaking with Daniel Jeremiah and Matt “Money” Smith about their decision to cancel Thursday’s scrimmage in light of the recent protests across the sports landscape.
All in separate instances, we got to hear from Tyrod Taylor, Damion Square, Ty Long, Justin Jackson, and general manager Tom Telesco, among others, as they laid their hearts out for the country.
The show fades out with Lynn talking with Jackson and Taylor, just kicked back discussing what the day’s scrimmage would have looked like had they gone through with it. They continue to joke and laugh with each other, which does a great job ending things on a lighter note after such an emotional finale.