'Hard Knocks' Recap: Man Gotta Have a Vice - Rolling Stone
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‘Hard Knocks’ Recap: Man Gotta Have a Vice

The Atlanta Falcons take the field, and coach Bryan Cox steals the show

Hard Knocks, Falcons, Dolphins

Steven Clarke of the Miami Dolphins breaks up a pass intended for Courtney Roby of the Atlanta Falcons.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

“Here we go. Here we go. Here we go.”

Episode two of Hard Knocks opens with undrafted rookie fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones displaying his bear-like strength on the field. The camera cuts to coaching staff observing his talents. All of their faces read “Dayumn.” Jones even goes as far as to break a football sled during blocking drills. Needless to say, the kid is a strong with loads promise.

Moments later, Jones is called into Mike Smith’s office where he is cut from the team, despite all the optimistic footage the HBO crew caught just a few second before.


After an ancillary mountain-biking montage with Falcons GM/your mom’s new boyfriend Thomas Dimitroff, we head to the practice field, where Mike Tice asks a couple players about blocking with their wings outstretched – in reference to a pathetic block attempt from James Stone in last week’s scrimmage. Naturally, Stone was forced to sing “I Believe I Can Fly” for his transgressions.

Another disappointment from last week’s scrimmage was rookie defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman, who didn’t play anywhere close to his potential. This warrants some one-on-one time with coach Bryan Cox. Actually, One-on-One Time with Coach Bryan Coach is a pretty great title for the television show Cox is bound to get after the season because he’s gold.

Cox implores Hageman to “Get [his] ass together.” Eventually, Hageman takes that advice to heart, transforms into a badass and punches another player during an altercation on the practice field. Of course, said player was wearing a helmet, and Hageman breaks his hand. That’s just good coaching.

We are now just moments away from a scheduled practice with the Tennessee Titans, and head coach Mike Smith stands before the men he is meant to lead. Smith informs them that under no circumstance will he allow fighting. If anyone fights, even in retaliation, they will be fined and sent to the locker room. He wrote all of this down on what appears to be DoubleTree hotel stationary, so you know he’s serious.

Cut to Matt Ryan kindly greeting every Titans player like it’s a family reunion.

During the game, Joe Hawley is kicked out within minutes and Bryan Cox tells his players, “Reach down inside and get whatever the fuck your mother gave you.” Coaching 101 with a legend.

The scrimmage ends and blah blah blah. More importantly, we’re treated to an entire segment with Ra’Shede Hagemen and Marquis Spruill swimming with fishes/being terrified at the Georgia Aquarium.

To be fair, some of the fish were really big, or as Spruill recapped during practice, “They was babies and they was the size of SUVs.” Sadly we later find out that Spruill will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Hard Knocks is brutal this year.

Next up, we have our weekly “Roddy White and William Moore talking shit to each other” segment, followed by the return of last week’s MVP, Harry Douglas, and his wife, Kierra. After Roddy says hello to Kierra, he pressures the happy couple to consider having a child. This causes Kierra to tell Harry, “I’m ready” to which Harry responds, “Hush! The microphone’s on you!”

Cut to Ricardo Allen telling us about his testicles. Apparently he was hit very hard during practice. Allen describes one of them as being “four times the size as the other” and says “everyone keeps calling me big balls.”

This scene was expertly transitioned into the next by Liev Schreiber as he gracefully states, “Sometimes a big pair can come in handy.”

We now watch Allen zipline with his girlfriend and his Hawaiian shirt and all I can think is, man, that harness cannot feel good on his recently injured testicles.

We get some scenes designed to show that these guys aren’t always weapons of mass destruction (aka “family time!”) and now, we’ve arrived to the Georgia Dome and the first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Seems like yesterday we were sitting in Kroy Biermann’s house watching Kroy Biermann watch Kroy Biermann on TV. Remember to hug your loved ones because time flies.

Anyway, the game starts off pretty bad for the Birds as Ryan Tannehill dismantles their defense, which by all accounts, should never happen. Players aren’t happy. Coaches aren’t happy. Wives aren’t happy.

The offense seems to be flowing as Matt Ryan and Co. marched down the field, scoring a touchdown in a total of 18 plays. This causes Joe Hawley to look at his teammate and say, “I think we’re going to be good, dude.” Super glad he’s a believer.

The first preseason game showed us some very impressive stuff from the rookies. Hageman played big, saying his effort was, “on point.” Prince Shembo was running the defensive show and got his first sack of his career. Devonta Freeman was a machine, picking up close to 100 yards rushing in the second half. And Tyler Starr and Jacques Smith got some defensive reps. Smith found immediate success as Starr struggled a bit, as noted by his son.

Eventually, Starr did come around and wound up making one of the biggest plays of the night, ensuring the first Falcons preseason victory since 2012.

Now we find ourselves at a hotel swimming pool, smoking fat cigars with coaches Bryan Cox, Anthony Maddox and Mark Collins. This scene is peak Cox – scratch that – peak human race, with Bryan Cox representing us all.

Collins tells Cox that he can’t sleep, causing Cox to give out some free wisdom for the world to soak in. First he tells Collins to drink himself to sleep with Everclear. He then goes on to describe the necessity of vices in a man’s life. Finally, he tells the other coaches, “I don’t want no Schlitz Malt Liquor. I want a Bud.”

Don’t we all, Bryan?

MVP of the Night: Bryan Cox, American Hero

Line of the Night: “A man without some kind of habit got a lot of skeletons. Ain’t no question. Somebody buried in his basement. He’s got about three wives. You know, Serial killer. Gotta have a vice. You ain’t got a vice, somethin’s wrong. This is a good smoke. “

In This Article: HBO, sports


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