Hard Knocks recap: Frustration mounts, Kliff’s crib, everyone loves Budda
The latest iteration of Hard Knocks premiered on Wednesday night, with the in-season NFL documentary series putting the Arizona Cardinals under the spotlight.
Here is a breakdown of the most notable moments from the first episode.
Setting the scene
It is the job of the program to tell a story, and with that, viewers that are not akin to the Cardinals’ season were caught up to speed.
The season opened with quarterback Kyler Murray walking off the field after the Week 8 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, cursing loudly as he walked back to the locker room before spiking his helmet to the ground once he got there. That set the table for the state of the 2022 Cardinals season.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury addressed the team the next day and spotlighted the NFC West standings and how Arizona’s next three games were against divsional opponents. He correctly pointed out that if the Cardinals beat Seattle and L.A. coming up that they could be playing for first place three weeks later against San Francisco.
Yes, times were tough, but there was a large window still open.
Montage of mistakes
The Cardinals, of course, did not take advantage of that cool breeze coming in after falling to the Seahawks on Sunday. This was despite Kingsbury telling his team before the game that it was their best week of practice.
And you could not make up Kingsbury saying the Seattle game was “about no self-inflicted wounds” earlier in the episode after how the game unfolded.
Hard Knocks ran through a montage of mistakes after the Cardinals’ first opening drive touchdown of the season. It was clear how there was already a certain amount of tension around the group because of the 3-5 start, and it just kept mounting the worse it got in the game.
There was Budda Baker calling it sloppy. General manager Steve Keim shaking his head. Kingsbury sighing.
We got the inside line on what wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Murray were discussing when they got into a heated back and forth verbally on the sidelines. Hopkins was asking Murray what he was seeing and told his quarterback he was wide open. Murray told Hopkins to calm down and assured his star wideout he was trying to get him the ball. Hopkins told the signal caller he just wants to win.
The Seahawks’ final nail in the coffin included a 51-yard pass to tight end Noah Fant on a bootleg action Seattle had been using all afternoon. We saw defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s reaction, one filled with frustration while he exclaimed, “We talked about the boot!”
Keim was facepalming, and when it was over, Murray was asking someone as he walked off the field how many pre-snap penalties the Cardinals had.
Afterward, Kingsbury implored his team they have to stick together and that the NFC is still giving them a chance to get in the playoffs despite a 3-6 record. Defensive lineman J.J. Watt urged everyone to evaluate themselves and look in the mirror.
It was a candid look at how the pressure of an NFL season failing to meet expectations can snowball so quickly.
The offerings off the field gave us our closest glance yet at how Kingsbury is on a day-to-day basis.
NFL Films wisely got a tour of his house, just so Kingsbury could recreate his meme from the 2020 NFL Draft.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) November 10, 2022
Kingsbury’s living quarters certainly has a lot of room in it, as he told the cameras he likes to keep it minimalistic and modern with how much stuff he doesn’t have around his house.
What he does have is a movie room, where Kingsbury likes to spend his Friday nights getting into murder-mystery-related content.
The room has a sweet view of Camelback Mountain but one Kingsbury rarely sees because of the lack of time he spends around his house when the sun is up since he’s at work so much.
“I never see it though because it’s dark when I leave and it’s dark when I get back,” he said.
Hey, if for some reason you didn’t love Baker already, you definitely do after the premiere. And if you did, now you love him more.
Murray described the Pro Bowl safety as a quiet dude but a savage. If there was one teammate Murray would want to go to war with, it’s Baker and he said everyone understands why.
“He’s a dog,” Murray said. “That’s the definition of Budda.”
Baker made an impassioned speech to his team following the Week 5 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, showing emotion to the entire locker room. He was tired of losing.
— NFL (@NFL) November 10, 2022
Linebackers coach Bill Davis was heard telling a player that he wants them to ask themselves if they can outhustle Budda, which is a testament to how much of a franchise player the safety is.
The injuries for Baker and Murray that became news this week were given some clarity as to what happened.
Murray tweaked his hamstring in the first half, shortly before his fumble on a scramble.
Baker’s ankle sprain that will force him to miss this Sunday’s game against the Rams happened on the Seahawks’ last drive when he got rolled up on during a tackle. This contradicts Kingsbury telling reporters on Wednesday that Baker injured it early on in the game and played through it. That could have just been some tricky editing by NFL Films to fit the narrative pace more, or the initial injury wasn’t shown.