Did they volunteer? Were they ‘voluntold’? Although the criteria to be featured on Hard Knocks is clearly presented in three simple prerequisites, the criteria to be featured on Hard Knocks In Season remains ambiguous. Yet, here we are, following the Indianapolis Colts on the days before and including their 10th game of the 2021 regular season. The Colts hold a .500 win/lose record, thus are neither significantly worse nor better in gridiron skills than those featured on Hard Knocks.
We begin with a montage of the ups and downs of the Colts’ 2021 season, which includes on-field action, sideline banter, and pre-game and post-game interviews. As expected, the joint production between HBO Films and NFL Films continues to bring the high production values that viewers expect. The bulk of this episode explores the dynamic between Carson Wentz and Frank Reich the starting quarterback and head coach respectively. Their relationship began at the 2016 NFL draft, and their bond transcended football. As Christians, they are interlocked on a personal and spiritual level. Reich and Wentz first worked together on the 2016 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, with Reich serving as the offensive coordinator. The 2017 season brought the Eagles their first Superbowl win but that success was a gift and a curse. Reich was selected as the Colts head coach and was reunited with Wentz this season. The brief yet effective presentation of the QB and coach relationship gives Hard Knocks In Season a near-drama quality narrative.
“It is crazy that the smallest guy on the field produces the most.” These are the words of outside linebacker Darius Leonard, a defensive monster for the blue & white clad team. Leonard is lean, with the physique of a basketball shooting guard or small forward. But the linebacker lands tackles as hard as LBs 30 pounds heavier. Leonard’s wife and small child are present during the eventful win that the Colts have against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Colts vs. Jaguars game brought back memories from HBO’s former series Inside The NFL. This series ran on HBO from 1977 to 2008 (now on Showtime) and covered every game, every week, with trademark highlights from NFL Films, including all the sound and wires and spirited debate on the game’s hottest topics. We see and hear all the aforementioned here, with the commentary from the player’s loved ones in the stands having a prominent presence. This is acutely apparent when Leonard injures his already problematic ankle in the game, greatly concerning his aware wife and slightly confused daughter. The injury is enough to sideline LB #53, but he supplies vocal support off the gridiron. The Colts earn a tough and exciting 23-17 victory over the Jaguars.
For those that like football, Hard Knocks In Season will be a welcoming entry from HBO Sports. The second episode of In Season will air on November 24, 2021, on HBO.
About The Author
Travlis is a government contractor, Naval reservist, and aficionado of film, premium television, and literature. A viewer of HBO for nearly three decades, Travlis just completed the first draft an outline and script for a documentary titled "On a Dark and Stormy Night". The intentionally cliché’ title serves as a double entendre’. For Home Box Office aired its first wave of programming on November 8, 1972, during a thunderstorm, and the premium cable giant‘s nearly five decade run of quality programming is anything but cliché’.