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Arizona Cardinals Hard Knocks Episode 4

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates with fans after a touchdown catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow

The 4th episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks’ in-season documentary about the Arizona Cardinals from a fan’s perspective is a magnificent appeal to pathos (emotion).

If one episode could ever capture a full gamut of emotions —- this episode covers it all:

Here were some of the honest emotions that I felt.

  • Extreeme Disappointment —- for the situation Sean Kugler brought upon his victim, himself, his players and the Cardinals’ organization.
  • Profound Hope —- for the highly professional manner in which TE coach Steve Heiden is making in his impressive transition to being the new OL coach. Heiden’s first message to the players was “this is an open forum, we’ll talk through stuff” —- “for me this is going to be a learning curve” —- “obviously the calls, the way you guys have done things in the past may be a little different.” (keep doing whatever you are doing, Coach Heiden!)
  • Anticipation —- Colt McCoy. during the QBs meeting, after being assured by QB coach Cam Turner that Steve Heiden is taking over as OL coach, “How about we rush for over 100 yards this week. I’d put money on it right now.” (Note: is McCoy in charge of that QB room or what? He sits at attention, while Kyler slouches and Colt is emphatic about what it is going to take to win the upcoming game, having clearly researched the opponent in advance. Now to be fair, these are selected snippets of what goes on in the QB room, but the cumulative effect of the snippets as to the manner of McCoy’s take-charge approach seems crystal clear.)
  • Enlightenment —- Steve Heiden assuring the OL that “let’s talk through those things, if I say something that doesn’t hit you right, ok, I want to hear about it right away. I want to get it corrected right away and speak in your terms so nothing changes for you guys and so we’re all on the same page. We’ll just dive into the Chargers.” (Notice the eye contact Heiden has with the players in the room —- notice how they are turning to look directly at him —- there is a clear and enlightening communication that is happening in that room —- and, just as importantly, what appears to be a sense of healing with regard to the firing of the OL coach.
  • Exasperation —- when the narrator reminds us that “the timing (of this week’s game) is awful” considering the Cardinals are coming off a MNF game, and now not only have a short week to prepare with a new OL coach, but also have to manage their way through Thanksgiving week, “making an already short holiday week even shorter.”
  • Irony —- when Kliff is running the meeting in the QB room, Kyler is sitting up, taking notes and is fully engaged with his head coach.
  • Leeriness —- Kyler saying “ i hate not to be able to play,” when the week before he was already running full bore sprints at Estadio Azteca. (Note: Kyler said this with a laugh akin to the chuckles he made last summer when he insisted with regard to his social media scrubbing that “I was just being a 24 year old kid, doing what 24 year old kids do.”)
  • Incredulity —- at the first practice of the week, the narrator says, “Murray hasn’t been at full speed for weeks, but to begin, he needs to get his head straight and his hamstring loose.” This was said while Kyler was trying to shake off the surprising discomfort and pain his helmet was causing him.
  • Expectation —- Kliff saying about Kyler, “he’s slinging it out there today, huh?”
  • Skepticism —- Kyler saying, “Urgency is through the roof. We have to run the table and we have the talent to do it. We’ve just got put it all together on Sunday.” It’s very challenging this year to associate the word “urgency” with Kyler, except in terms of his contract demands, his stellar play at the end of the Raiders game in Week 2 and his compulsion to f-bomb his head coach on national TV.
  • Serendipity followed by disappointment —- hearing Colt McCoy saying “Let’s GO!” after hearing that Hollywood Brown would be returning this week. And then finding out that the Cardinals’ plan was to move him to the slot. This position switch, in a way, was the main signal that one of the passing games priorities was to “small ball” it, not “air mail” it. As it turned out, as it has for weeks on end with Kyler at QB, the deep ball passing game was an “out of order” afterthought.
  • Nostalgia —- looking back with keen excitement at the connection the Kyler and Hollywood had at Oklahoma.
  • Agreement —- Hollywood saying, “We can’t look ahead, we’ve got top take it one play at time and see where it goes from there.”
  • Impressive —- at practice when Kliff asks D-Hop what time the Thanksgiving dinner was at the Women’s Shelter and assuring D-Hop he will be there. “That’ll be cool,” Kliff said.
  • Reverence —-The narrator says, “Holidays can be stressful; sometimes the answer is to put others first.” Then seeing Hop driving over to the shelter to serve “about 400 to 500 women who have been in domestic situations.” Hop continued, “Today is about giving back, it’s a blessing. My mom was in a domestic situation that left her without her eyesight. It hits home every day, It’s something that is a part of my life. We’ve been through a lot as a family, but we always make sure, no matter what we go through, we still are able to smile and are able to help other people. I’ve had people help me my whole life, you know so, for me, this (giving to others) is something that comes natural. Like what we are about to go do right now. Show our faith, give our time and show people that they are loved and appreciated because they are appreciated.”
  • Pure Awe —- to see the easy, natural way in which D-Hop interacted with the young, middle aged and elderly at the dinner, asking the 10 year old boy about his grades, congratulating the middle aged woman about her new baby, and engaging big-time with Rhonda, an elderly spitfire, in such a hilarious back and forth banter. “You want me to come out there and help you catch balls?” Rhonda asked. And D-Hop asking right back, “You gonna kick ‘em for me?” And then seeing D-Hop shake hRhonda’s hand with both of his and saying with a huge smile, “Thank you so much, Rhonda. It is is great to meet you.”
  • Pure Awe II —- seeing Kelvin Beachum, Manny Jones, Keontay Ingram and Kliff Kingsbury (with his girlfriend?) amongst other teammates serving at the buffet line.
  • Profound Empathy —- did you see the elderly woman who was so touched that while being served her dinner she looked up at the players with tears in her eyes?
  • Profound Thanksgiving —- for the hearts that were in full array at the Women's Shelter —- and the special heart of the man who made it happen, DeAndre Hopkins.

I think it would be fitting to leave it right here.

The gamut of emotions that the game produced are by now, redundant.

It’s time to move on to the Cardinals’ MNF game at home versus the Patriots.

One day, one practice, one snap and kick at a time.