Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Episode 4 Review

There's an adage about modern movie making and that is to catch the viewer's attention in the first act. This week's Hard Knocks starts out with Head Coach Marvin Lewis (pictured) laying into his team after last week's loss to the St. Louis Rams. It's a cuss word infused speech that probably shook the stadium. Then we flashback a few days earlier when Marvin has trouble getting into the stadium because the gate is broke, an obstacle. The narrator talks about the obstacles that Marvin and the team has faced in trying to win in Cincinnati. It's an introduction to the futility of being a Cincinnati Bengals' fan.

There's less time with the frivolous activities with the players this week and more drama as the team nears the making of final cuts. You wonder if safety Tom Nelson will make the team. Running backs Brian Leonard and DeDe Dorsey are fighting for a spot. The choice is like choosing between strawberry and chocolate ice cream. Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer has a talk with DT Tank Johnson about getting a positive reputation. Converted DT Jason Shirley is starting to come around as an offensive linemen. In one clip from the Patriots game, he annihilates a defensive end. We meet J.B. Brown, a handyman for the team. He's been with the team since Paul Brown and he leads the team into battle every game. Underdog FB Chris Pressley is hitting things so hard that he breaks a facemask.

It's not all drama. You can't have a documentary about the Bengals without the intentional and unintentional comedy. Chad talks about Jennifer Aniston's love life. Then we meet his charming girlfriend. We also see how hard Chad works out. That workout includes boxing. He does a pretty good Muhammad Ali imitation. We get a look at Katie Brown's daughter's crayon drawing of all the Bengals coaches. One has a picture of a football headed right at the noggin of former head coach David Shula, the worst coach in the history of the Bengals. Owner and de facto Mike Brown asks the coaches what do we want a fullback to do. Um, Mike, he bleeping blocks, which is what Jim Anderson says to Mike. Do you realize that Mike Brown has a Elmer Fudd vibe? And Marvin Lewis' laugh is the same as the Simpsons' Dr. Julius Hibberd. We find out that backup QB Jordan Palmer has a website that tells people when to go and pee during a movie.

Of course, there's the third preseason game. This is the dress rehearsal for the season. And it's sloppy. The offensive line is blocking badly. Fumbles. Missed tackles.

All that leads us back to Lewis' cuss word filled rant against his team. He's mad at the sloppiness and the laziness in practice. He challenges his team to reach deep inside and to be a bleeping pro. It's a thing of beauty.

The tension builds as we wait for more cuts. The players walk in for practice. Passing by Director of Football Operations Jim Lippincott, there is uneasiness as Tom Nelson, an undrafted player walks by. Is he going to be taken aside and cut? That's good stuff.

The show ends with top pick OT Andre Smith signing. And like most Bengals's season, there's a disaster. Smith breaks a foot in practice. To you who don't know what it's like to root for the Bengals, that sums it all up. This episode is again brilliant and inspiring, especially listening to Lewis go after his team. I love these misfits. The grade for this episode is A+.

No comments: