A year ago, the All or Nothing series arrived seemingly out of the clear blue sky, with few even knowing that the Cardinals had spent all of 2015 under the microscope of NFL Films. The fact that Arizona had made it to the NFC title game gave the effort even more buzz, along with a comprehensive marketing effort that featured plenty of Cardinals players and coaches available for interviews as the release date approached.
This year, the series shifted from a final-four franchise to a four-win team. There was little advance marketing and scant buzz as the summertime low-water-mark release date of June 30 arrived. It’s almost as if the folks at NFL Films and Amazon realize people won’t care nearly as much about Season Two of the franchise, so why even bother to position it to generate interest?
The first episode, which I watched this morning (quit reading if you don’t want spoilers, including the fact that the Rams lost to the 49ers in Week One) begins with the now-familiar clip of coach Jeff Fisher telling the players he’d been fired. It then hops back to the draft, toying a bit with the question of whether the Rams would be taking Jared Goff or Carson Wentz with the first overall pick before sharing the first, and perhaps only, on-camera comments from owner Stan Kroenke.
“You know, I asked [Fisher] this morning, ‘Did you know who you’re gonna pick?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I knew that before we traded.'”
Of course they did, but they tried to turn the uncertainty into part of the reality show. As it turned out, the Rams were the subject not only of the NFL’s annual training-camp reality show, but also of the full-season reality show that presumably already has selected, and already has begun filming, its top-secret-for-now team for season three.
The first episode jumps around from the firing of Fisher to the selection of Goff to the decision to move to L.A. to a variety of background-style topics that those who follow the sport already knew about, but that presumably needed to be included in the event someone with no prior interest in football suddenly decides in a fit of complete boredom to sample the series.
Here are a couple of things that caught my ear.
In a snippet devoted to quarterback Case Keenum, narrator Jon Hamm suggests that Keenum’s record-setting college performances hadn’t translated to the NFL because “experts” believe he’s too short, at six-feet, one-inch. That was a dumb and lazy observation from whoever wrote the copy, given that height is no longer a barrier to opportunity for quarterbacks, given the success of sub-six-foot guys like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. While lack of height possibly has contributed to Keenum’s inability to become a year-in-year-out starter either with the Texans or Rams, he hasn’t been held back because executives are saying, “He’s too short.” He’s been held back because he hasn’t gotten it done when he’s had the chance to get it done.
The practical impact of the relocation of the franchise and its spread-all-over-Southern-California first year in L.A. was summed up perfectly by offensive line coach Paul Boudreau, who said this while talking to Fisher and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis: “When I get up in the middle of the night to take a piss, which way do I go? The hotel bathroom’s over here, the house bathroom’s over there.”
The first episode continues through the Week One blowout loss to the 49ers and its aftermath, focusing finally on the buildup to a Week Two date with the Seahawks at the L.A. Coliseum.
Spoiler alert: The Rams win the game.