The Best and Worst of Amazon’s “All or Nothing” Carolina Panthers (Episode #4/8)
Well, now it’s Amazon’s turn to show us what they got. The past week or so, we looked at the BEST and WORST of HBOs’ Hard Knocks (2018 Cleveland). We have the 2018 (season) Carolina ‘All or Nothing’ (2019 release) to review – eight episodes. I’ll watch and review each episode over the next week or so.
Typically, I like the Amazon production better than the HBO…but I like them both. A look behind the scenes that I still cannot believe the NFL allows to happen because it exposes how silly these people (coaches and GMs) look in real life/real time. And I’ve watched/reviewed them all…and they’re all the same nonsense management – except Sean McVay…you could tell right away he was different.
Let’s see what we have with the BEST and WORST of Amazon’s Carolina Panthers’ 2018 season!
We’re three episodes in and the trend that has developed has been consistent through all three watches so far – Greg Olsen is inexplicably taking up way to much camera time/story focus, Ron Rivera looks and acts like a real human, and Christian McCaffrey may or may not have been a factor last season…hard to tell because they barely talk about/focus on him.
Carolina is 3-1 through five weeks and is heading to a winnable game against Washington (that they lose) and then to a losable game vs. Philly (that they have their largest 4th-quarter comeback in team history and win).
Here’s the BEST and WORST of episode #4…
WORST: Greg Olsen, star of the show…
I mean, it’s getting ridiculous now. Perhaps, it’s just me. Olsen randomly pops up spouting off ‘words’ multiple times in every episode and it’s so nothing of content that I’m not sure why the director/producer insists on dropping him into this show so often. He was about the 6th-10th most compelling storyline of the Carolina season.
He loves to talk (like he never shuts up), and I think that gets interpreted as ‘leader’ -- but to me, from what I see…it’s just a bunch of nonsense. It’s the same mistake people made with Jason Witten…a lot of talk/words does not mean you’re super insightful or compelling. Just ask ESPN’s MNF production and the millions who were subjected to listening to Witten last year.
It’s not a crime to be a yapping chihuahua, but there has to be better people/stories to cover from 2018 Carolina…I know there was.
BEST: Josh Norman calling…
Maybe the best segment to watch of the entire show so far. Josh Norman calls (Carolina plays Washington this week, in the show) Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly (they are together in a meeting room). Cam gets the phone, on Facetime, and just sticks his middle finger out at the screen as he and Kuechly smile and joke and roast with Norman for several minutes.
Watching former teammates having a good-natured taunt is great. Norman is telling Cam he better go out of bounds when he comes his way. Cam says he’s going to go out of his way to find Norman and run over him. Cam also asks Norman if he’s gained 15 pounds/that he looks fat…as Norman’s teammates are laughing about that in the background of the call.
It’s all good-natured, but then they all acknowledge that it’s no more friendly banter on Sunday. It was a great behind-the-curtain look at NFL life. More slices of things like this…less Greg Olsen, please.
WORST: The Amazon producers…
I feel like I should have been hired for quality control of this show. It’s so error-riddled that it has gone beyond funny into aggravating.
The error of the week this week…Jon Hamm (narrator) says, upon the intro of the Josh Norman storyline, “Norman left Carolina for Washington…”. Ummm, no…the Panthers cut him. Washington then signed him for free and made him the richest CB in the league (at the time). Big difference in you quit or got fired.
Anyone can make an error. I do on occasion, moving too fast and not having time to do proper stat/fact-checking…but Amazon has more money than God. I assume they would have the resources to have people to help get the story right.
With this Norman error, they missed a great story angle…the Norman revenge factor from getting cut in their contract dispute a few years ago. Norman picks Cam and also forces a fumble. He had a great game in a win versus his old team.
BEST: D.J. Moore, two fumbles in a half…
I remember this game well. Moore essentially cost Carolina this game. He fumbled a catch and run pass play and fumbled a punt return.
This DJM focused segment was a compelling look from the inside at something that is a player/team’s worst nightmare…multiple fumbles leading to the other team scoring. You could feel the angst/tension…good football TV.
However, this situation leads to another HUGE ‘best’…
BEST: I Really Like Ron Rivera, and This Coaching Staff…
The D.J. Moore two-fumble event could’ve led to the typical coaches screaming and subsequent benching of the rookie to ‘teach him a lesson’. Carolina/Rivera never panics. Never screams at DJM. In fact, he goes to him to encourage him. Moore is not benched and plays a solid second half.
The team was in a hole because of the Moore fumbles turned 10pts for Washington right after, but we never see Rivera losing his cool over it. I feel like a Mike Zimmer type would have benched Moore and crushed his confidence for the whole year because of it. Most coaches in the NFL have dog houses they love to throw players in. Not Rivera. Rivera sets a tone and example of leadership vs. panic or trying to spank players just because he can. Rivera is trying to build a team and not to stroke a personal need to show everyone he controls all the players and can punish them when they do not do what he wants on demand.
In fact, I have yet to see one coach at any position on the Panthers look unreasonable or cartoonish. Watching the Browns Hard Knocks before this…almost their entire coaching staff was like a travelling carnival folk filled with people you cannot believe hold positions of responsibility. The Panthers’ staff are very professional and comfortable in their own skin – all the credit to Ron Rivera.
You can argue/debate on whether they know talent well enough or Xs and Os, etc., but they are fine people to lead a group of young people in a direction. They don’t make it unbearable to come to work…like so many head coaches/staffs do.
We also got to see Rivera, pre-Washington game, go up to Josh Norman and hug him and tell him he wishes him a good game/season and staying healthy, that he’s always routing for him. Rivera is a total class act but not a pushover either, or to be trifled with.
My big takeaway from this series…Ron Rivera deserves respect. He’s a solid NFL head coach. Maybe not great, but he’s far from the typical buffoon either.
WORST: Why Rivera Isn’t Great…
I don’t know how any coach could possess Curtis Samuel, a high draft pick, a guy who tore up the preseason, a guy who had one of the TD plays of 2018 in the prior game to the Washington game here…how he possesses Samuel and has his team down late to Washington, trying to comeback on a final drive, and needing a big 4th-down conversion…and the throw is to Jarius Wright, as Samuel watches from the sidelines.
I don’t care if it is Norv Turner’s call, I know Norv doesn’t know talent if it came up and kicked him in the groin. His whole last decade+ has shown us Norv’s issues…but Ron, you gotta step in and demand the talent be on the field. He didn’t here, and Wright is not open (shocker), Cam cannot connect on 4th-down on their late drive…game over. A loss that could’ve/should’ve been a win.
WORST: The Greg Olsen Game Winner…
After Washington beats Carolina, the Panthers come from 17pts down to beat Philly with a late 1-yard TD pass to, you guessed it, Greg Olsen.
Olsen has one catch for 4 yards to that point in the game, because he’s aged about 10 years the past two seasons, but the Panthers still force him out there. On the game winner, Olsen slips out of a block and is wide open in the end zone on a play you’ve seen to the tight end (or an offensive tackle) about a million times, but Olsen doing it is hailed as ‘amazing’ and ‘clutch’, because of course it was.
OK, onto episode #5. We’re halfway through now. Coming up is the Cam shoulder problem becoming the main story for the rest of the 2018 season. AND the season is about to take a turn for the toilet…
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