Hard Knocks Episode 3 Recap: You weren't using that ligament, were you?

Steven Godfrey

SB Nation senior reporter and depressed Atlanta Falcons fan Steven Godfrey recaps the third episode of HBO's NFL series Hard Knocks.

It's time for another recap of the Atlanta Falcons edition of Hard Knocks, the HBO NFL program that's become increasingly cool to hatewatch. Hard Knocks has been reduced to cliche and the Falcons are a bore, but the ratings are up!

Bryan Cox, folk hero philosopher, on parenting The defensive line coach was the best part of these first three episodes and next week he's teased delivering reviews of Adam Sandler's cinematic oeuvre, so we're pretty sure this entire HBO film crew thing is his ship from here on out. Also, Kroy Biermann's reality TV wife appeared in zero minutes of Tuesday's episode, a feat we'll gladly credit to Cox without merit.

"I told y'all I started fucking when I was 10." That's Cox explaining the age difference between his oldest and youngest daughter (he has four) during a slideshow of family photos to his defensive linemen. We're not sure if family photo slide shows are a common occurrence in position group meetings, but it's fun to think that Cox randomly inserted the slides into a normal meeting and dared any of his players to make fun of him.

It turns out one player's done much, much worse. Undrafted rookie defensive tackle Theo Agnew has friended one of Cox's daughters on Instagram and the paterfamilias has found out.

"Keep the fuck away from my daughter, Black Moses," Cox advises Agnew in a meeting. We agree; if you're on the wrong side of upcoming roster cuts, it's best to wait out a friend request to your direct supervisor's child. And if parents know about Instagram it's time to do SnapChat or Tinder or something.

It looks like a firecracker went off inside that knee! Tuesday's show opened with blecccchy in-surgery footage live from rookie linebacker Marquis Spruill's exploded ACL and ended with the solitude of freshly injured left tackle Sam Baker in Atlanta's second preseason game vs. Houston. It's a season-ending tendon tear that will likely ending a run for Baker in Atlanta that's been really, really contentious.

When outside fans and national media talk about the Falcons, names like Baker's are ignored. But the maligned former first-round pick is exemplary of Atlanta's potentially fatal problems under Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith. Baker was a reach when the Falcons jumped back into the first round to get him in 2008. Since then he's been oft-injured and a target for penalties with no sustained success playing at left tackle. When the Falcons' offensive line was decimated by free agency and injury in 2013 the passing game wilted, and guys like Baker (when healthy) were prime examples of just how awful this organization was -- and is -- on both lines of scrimmage.

So of course Dimtroff rewarded Baker with a $41 million contract extension in 2013 and then used a Top-10 pick in the 2014 Draft to take his successor, Jake Matthews. Tuesday's episode focused on Matthews' amazing NFL pedigree and his quick grasp of the pro game. Even Baker himself gushed about Matthews' upside.

"You wake up tomorrow, you're our left tackle," a stone cold Mike Tice tells Matthew during the Houston game. Did Tice even know the severity of Baker's injury when he said that? Or had he just seen the veteran get whipped by Jadeveon Clowney? Does it matter? We're not sure what the logic is in dumping a ton of guaranteed money on a guy so obviously ill-suited for his job, but given the consistency of wins under Dimtroff you have to give him the benefit of the ...

Oh Jesus, not again. Look, Thom, I'll ride for you eating quinoa almond loaf, but even a French cycling fan would call that look a little too effete. Can we not tone one or two facets of that ensemble down?

Frankly that shirt leaves us no choice:

Here's 150 words from a Saints fan, brought to you by @AngryWhoDat:

Oh, boy. This is painful even as a hate watch. Want to end racism in America? Make every white supremacist watch Matt Ryan tell a Boudreaux-Thibodeaux joke, then skip right to the poolside ukelele scene. Problem solved.

Quotes of the week:

"We've got to get things fixed across the board" - an NFL head coach halfway through preseason

"You were a little anxious, rushing a few things ... lost your technique a few times. You'll be fine" – an NFL position coach, to a rookie

The stated theme of the episode was "setbacks, obstacles to overcome." There was no conflict and resolution, just a tragedy unfinished, an introduction and a conclusion with the same spoken melodrama: setbacks, obstacles. Poor TV, but an adequate representation of the Dimitroff/Smith era, a recurrent failure masquerading as a cliffhanger. We already know how this ends, guys.

This is your general manager.

And finally: Matthew Fucking Ryan is your man for profanity Non-Atlanta fans probably enjoyed the scenes where an undrafted rookie receiver from Amsterdam spoke foreign languages (What's Dutch for "practice squad?") or when Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas tried to catch a falling dollar bill or went bowling.

Nice, Harry. It's as if your ball fell to the ground inexplicably, causing you to lose a game. (PS: I hate you so much Harry.)

But if you're a Falcons fan still smarting from 4-12, something as simple as well-placed cusswords fired you up enough to suffer through 2014. It's really hard to explain why this is a positive. Maybe it's the ghost of Jeff George.

Matthew Ryan! He cusses! A good bit! At teammates who screw up! And he tells dirty jokes about old men and Pussy willows!

While Mike Smith will never, ever shed terminal boringness, his choir boy quarterback just got caught putting swears in his rhyme book. Matthew Ryan! He cusses! A good bit! At teammates who screw up! And he tells dirty jokes about old men and Pussy willows!

"We're gonna fuckin cut 'em up!" Ryan says in the huddle at a joint practice with Houston.

"Get your fucking mind right and come back Monday ready to work!" Ryan tells the entire team after a 32-7 loss to the Texans.


Does this do anything for Atlanta's woeful issues in pass rush and pass protection? Not a stinkin' bit. Will it make Steven Jackson's hamstring calm down? Nope. But damned if a little profanity from the crackerjack pocket passer tasked with succeeding Michael Vick doesn't warm the old A-T-L cockles: Well before dogfighting rings, Atlanta was defined by its attitude: PrimeTime, a pre-bankruptcy MC Hammer, Billy White Shoes, Lisa Lopes, Jerry Glanville, you name it. This is the Atlanta Falcons lifelong fans know: Of course we're going to lose horribly at some point, but that doesn't mean you can't look really cool and tough right up until then.


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