Two episodes into the new season of Hard Knocks and it certainly feels like the right team is in Los Angeles.
The Rams are a pretty chill group. Everyone seems to be having a pretty good time at UC-Irvine. Yoga sessions, pool parties, bumper cars, Pokemon hunts -- it's like a summer camp for young millionaires. No wonder poor Deon Long thought it'd be OK to bring a girl by the dorm room. This place is fun!
I want to be careful with my words here, because this type of observation of any team -- especially in the NFL -- could lead to one of the most deadly of all sports stigmas:
They're running a country club over there!
I don't think the Rams are running a country club over there. And I understand it is the job of NFL Films to show some of the lighter moments from camp life in the service of entertainment. But from my perspective on the couch -- things look loose.
Take, for instance, Jeff Fisher addressing wide receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick, who damn nearly get themselves killed when their two-seater overturns at a high speed on campus. (This shocking moment was captured brilliantly by an NFL Films camera mounted on the vehicle.)
Fisher has no doubt seen the footage, which plays out like a deleted scene from Fast and the Furious 12: We're Outta Ideas. Britt was moving when he loses control of the cart. We never see how Quick spills out of the vehicle, but Britt is extremely fortunate to escape injury.
Fisher refers to the veterans during a team meeting as "dumb and dumber." Britt and Quick smile sheepishly during the surprisingly tame admonishment. It's over in 30 seconds and life goes on.
The scene made me think back to *All or Nothing* with the Cardinals. You think Bruce Arians would have found this funny? If John Brown and Michael Floyd flipped their moped, something tells me they'd never see it again. "The b---- is mine now," Brucie may say. (Get well soon, Coach.)
Jared Goff is a total Cali kid. He reminds me a lot of Mark Sanchez (another Cali kid) during his star turn on the Jets' Hard Knocks season in 2010. Young, cocky, likable and a little bit goofy. Speaking of goofy, defensive tackle William Hayes doesn't believe in dinosaurs and is confident mermaids exist. We'll get into that in a bit.
Dreamers, weirdos, pretty people and wandering spirits. Yep, this feels like L.A. Welcome home, Rams.
Stray thoughts ...
» My full thoughts on William Hayes' breakout performance in this episode can be found here, but let me just say that I'm starting to think it's all a master troll job. The guy has dinosaur toys in his locker. He's begging you to fall in his black hole of Jurassic jabber.
The best news for Hayes (besides the fact he's one dumb hypothesis away from a reality show on Bravo)? He now has a sub-section of his Wikipedia page) titled, "Mermaids".
»Defensive line coach Mike Waufle continues to frighten me on a weekly basis. The former marine yells at people pretty much all the time. If I ever meet Aaron Donald, I'd definitely make a Full Metal Jacket joke just to watch the comment fly over his head. Maybe a Whiplash reference will better connect me to the kids? I'm old.
ANYWAY, actual comment from Waufle on Tuesday: "Knock him the f--- back! Put the quarterback on the f------ ground! Go celebrate that s---, b----. F--- you!" Mind you he said this to guys on his own team.
»Jeff, you're not the first white guy to struggle with this, but I feel like you should have more than enough practice by now.
» Whoa, training camp in 1991 was like a different sport. Fisher's classy mullet alone makes the footage notable, but then you see dudes in full pads trying to annihilate each other on a practice field in August. When men were men, I suppose.
» The Rams are serious about this Case Keenum thing! Said quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke: "We all understand the environment in terms of taking a guy No. 1 overall. Case has kept the horse blinders on and said, 'Listen, I'm going to continue to work I'm going to be the best I can be and I'm going to compete.' " You think Case really said that? Stop lying to us, Chris Weinke.
»Sean Mannion was so proud of himself when he hit the crossbar from 20 yards out and won $100 off the rookie hotshot. His future kids are going to hear this story so many times.
» I'm definitely going to start using N.A.F. (translation: Non-Athletic F---) the next time I play basketball. "Who you covering, Dan?" "I got Kyle. Total N.A.F."
Dan Hanzus honestly can't say why alligators and sharks weren't wiped out by the meteor. Follow him at @danhanzus and read him on The End Around.