Week 3: Quarterback Watch

This week on the 5th Down UK podcast, we discussed the different fortunes of 2 starting quarterbacks on the East Coast who were out of contract in the summer –
Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Jets, and Kurt Cousins of the Redskins.


By the start of the pre-season, both were back under contract, albeit in differing circumstances – Cousins would be taking home $20million under the franchise tag, while Fitzpatrick’s hold out resulted in a lower-end 1 year contract worth $12million.

Through the opening 2 weeks of the season, their performances did not seem to respect those valuations – Fitz was driving his powerful offence to a dominant Week 2 victory over the Bills in Thursday Night Football (following a somewhat unfortunate 1pt defeat to the Bengals in Week 1), while Cousins was enduring a couple of error strewn home defeats against the Steelers and the Cowboys.

So then Week 3 happened….

In the Jets matchup away at the Chiefs, Fitzpatrick threw an unbelievable 6 interceptions for 0 touchdowns in a brutal 3-24 defeat.

On the flipside, Kurt Cousins went error free on his away-day, leading the Redskins to their first victory of the season, against a much fancied New York Giants.


Both teams are now 1-2, but in just one week things are now a lot more positive in Washington. And for 2 quarterbacks who went into this season on the hot seat, it seems you get what you pay for.


“Hard Knocks ’16” – The 5th Down UK review


So with the opening weekend of the season now in the books, we can finally reflect on the finale of the pre-season treat, Hard Knocks.

It’s been a long time since the Greatest Show on Turf, and never has there been a franchise so entrenched in mediocrity than the Rams – as soon as owner Stan Kroenke signalled an intent to build a new stadium in Inglewood, the writing was on the wall for the St Louis experiment – the Rams were heading home.

So, the Rams secured the move that several other franchises were coveting, and returned to Los Angeles 22 years after they had quietly left the city in 1994. With the move, they coughed up a kings ransom to the Titans in exchange for the first pick in the 2016 draft – the L.A. Rams would now begin their 2nd life in Southern California with a #1 pick QB under centre… or would they?


So, this brings us up to where this season of Hard Knocks started. The Rams had been an obvious choice from the outset, with the NFL clearly invested heavily in this move to a major untapped market. Despite the Rams mediocrity over the past decade, there were quite a few pro-bowl calibre players on the roster (and a fair share on nut-balls that Hard Knocks always likes to gravitate towards), and Goff would be the icing on the cake.

The series opened with stylised credits, showing Todd Gurley running past the city landmarks (a 20+ mile run if this was filmed without edits); but this highlighted that the city of Los Angeles would be the star of this show just as much as any of the coaches or the players.

As is standard fare with Hard Knocks these days, some characters shined such as Eric Kush (who would eventually be cut and end up starting the season with the Bears) and Strength & Conditioning coach Rock Gullickson; whereas some couldn’t help but annoy – Todd Gurley & Tavon Austin please step forward (or back, out of earshot preferably).

It seemed as the series went on, the producers found the Rams just as bland as fans have, and were forced into following threads like the mermaid loving, dinosaur nay-sayer William Hayes until the point was driven too deep. Yes, he’s a kook, we get it.

Throughout the series we got to see a lot of Head Coach Jeff Fisher; producers seemingly inspired by the coverage of Bruce Arians in Amazons summer hit “All or Nothing”, we got to see the hard and the soft side of the man. While his handling of the Lamarcus Joyner situation in Episode 5 was nicely done, between the crazy new contract he gives Tavon Austin, and the attention his team gives to his warning on golf carts, he ultimately failed to cut the figure of a Head Coach who could take this team to the post-season.

And the fate of the #1 pick, Jared Goff? Well, he was in his civvies this weekend, watching the game. Apparently he’s not yet ready for the big time – the question should really be, are the Rams?

To paraphrase Fisher himself, unfortunately this whole season of Hard Knocks felt like some 7&9 bullsh!t.




The 5th Down UK Fantasy Special

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 14.35.05
So the inaugural 5th Down UK Fantasy Football league is up and running!!

10 all star teams are now all drafted up, and this week the combat will begin, as KB and Dubs try and win their own conferences!

From The Bortle Bank, to Ep 6 The Return of the Jordy, the team-name game was reasonably sound, although there was whispers of playing it safe when both Dub Steps (Dubs) and Desperados (KB) enrolled – we can only wait to see whether their team selection and waiver wire activity is a little more edgy!

The teams in each conference play each other twice, and will match up just once with each of their out-of-conference rivals. As it’s the first season of the 5th Down league, it’s a fairly vanilla setup – we drafted in a random snake, without any PPR or IDP tweaks – this is pure and clean family friendly fantasy!!

1st Picking – 5th Down Style

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 15.07.32Yes – the very 1st player ever picked in a 5th Down UK fantasy football draft was Matt Ryan.

Matt Ryan?

Yes, Matt Ryan.

Maybe Jack (GM of the plucky INSERT TEAM NAME‘s) knows something we don’t. They always say don’t judge a draft until the playoffs, but Jack is making this rule a little difficult!!

The rest of the 5th Down draft went pretty much as expected, with the big names going quickly – in a 10 team league though, there were still some gems left at the end of the draft – I was pretty chuffed to wait until round 12 for Phillip Rivers, and then get high reward flyers like Tajae Sharpe and Stefon Diggs in the final rounds.

Check out the upcoming Fantasy & Season kick off podcast coming soon – KB and Dubs will be getting some of the GMs from our league on to justify their moves and to brag triumph/cry failure over each weeks results!

You can see our league here:

PS: Anyone interested in the INSERT TEAM NAME 2nd round pick? Broncos D

Victor Cruz: The Long Road to Recovery

The NFL hasn’t seen Victor Cruz for a long time.

It was Oct 12 2014 in fact when we last saw him in a Giants jersey. He went down with a knee injury in Philly; a patellar tendon tear to be precise. It was a game his team lost 27-0.

If reports are to be believed, then this wideout who was once considered to be the best slot receiver in the league, is coming back. Cruz took part in practice this week, and he’s looking good.

“[Eli] understands that his year the Giants staff has offensively done some great things to put some players around him to make things happen”

– Victor Cruz on the 5thDownUK pod last month

A groin injury hampered the start of training camp this summer, but you’d be forgiven if you thought it was deja-vu, because we were being told about his imminent return all last summer. This time though it’s for real, and there’s a good chance we’ll see him line up against the Jets this weekend.

Last month, KB & Dubs caught up with Cruz in London when recording the 5thDownUK podcast. He said “It’s been too long, I’ve missed me”.

When asked if he’s being overly optimistic, like last year, he boldly replied, “I’ll definitely be out there playing, I’m excited to get back out there. It’s been a long time coming (to get to 100%) but I’m feeling good, I’m back, I’m running around. This year is going to be a special one.”

Giants fans will be hoping it’s as special as his breakout year in 2011, when Cruz burst onto the scene as an undrafted free agent to make 82 receptions for over 1,500 yards, and an impressive nine touchdowns (not to mention grabbing a Super Bowl ring in the process).

The 2016 Victor Cruz is looking sharp. It’s been a long road to recovery for #80 and he’s grown off the field. The 29 year old told us about his philosophical approach to rehab: “most people think that playing games and making routes is the biggest thing, but the biggest thing for me is being in the locker room, on the bus on the way to the game, being in the hotel the day before. Those are the things that you miss and those are the things that I want to get back”

When asked about what kept him motivated to get fit, he said: “Seeing my daughter grow, and seeing my mom. Everyone that’s a part of my fan base and a part of my family. I just want them to see me back out there, so that they can cheer me on and gloat to their friends, which I know they love to do. Allowing my friends and family to be a part of something special with me is all that matters”

He admitted that if it wasn’t for his family, and the Giants staff pushing him, he wouldn’t be back at 100%. Things have changed on and off the field since he last played; gone is the head coach who selected him. There’s also a new superstar in the team, and Cruz has nothing but praise for his fellow receiver Odell Beckham Jr: “he’s great, he’s full of energy and always trying to put a smile on people’s faces, joking and making us laugh. He’s a good dude”

Expectations are high amongst Giants fans for this coming season. Eli Manning certainly has some weapons to work with in 2016 and Cruz knows that; “it’s indicative of how good we can be this year. If it’s all on him (Beckham) then I can do some great things, likewise if it’s on me he can do some great things. And then if it’s all on both of us then Sterling Shepard can do some great things too”

For all the changes since his injury, Cruz knows there is still one constant in his offense – his QB: “Eli should be ready for us, which I know he is. He understands that his year the Giants staff has offensively done some great things to put some players around him to make things happen”

It’s a new season, and a new start in New York. Tom Coughlin was fired in January after the Giants finished a disappointing third in the NFC East, with Ben McAdoo ascending to the top role from Offensive Coordinator. We asked Cruz whether much had changed? “It’s definitely a fresh start and new philosophies with the new coach. He’s been with us the past two years, so from a philosophy standpoint there’s nothing new offensively although the defense has to get to know a new person, a new guy telling them what he expects from us” 

It’ll be a welcome sight for football fans if Victor Cruz takes to the field this weekend. It’s been a long road to recovery for the once-explosive receiver. We’re yet to see what he and a more experienced Beckham can do together on a football field; we can just imagine the damage they can cause if everything clicks with Eli.

Cruz believes they can go all the way; “our expectations every year is to win the Super Bowl. To do that we have to win the division. We’re in a division that anyone can win so we have to make sure that we’re in a position to take it.” 

“Hard Knocks ’16: Ep2” – The 5th Down UK review


Already I’m asking myself whether NFL Films & HBO have turned over this season of Hard Knocks to the funny folks at Saturday Night Live? As the Rams kick off their pre-season, we see Coach Fisher tackling the big issues; where to stand for the National Anthem, and how to safely get to and from the dorm rooms. We get to meet mermaid fan and dinosaur nay-sayer William Hayes, some robot blockers, and the whole team take remedial swimming lessons complete with bright pink floats.

In seasons gone-by there was always one thing wasn’t lost on the viewers – training camp is hard, tackling is fierce, and roster cuts are brutal. The newly re-located Rams however seem to be having a great time, laughing in the sun and soaking up the fan attention that had eluded them in St. Louis.

I may have only been young when the Rams last played in LA, but the reputation of warriors like the Fearsome Foursome and the legendary back Eric Dickerson mean that there are big shoes to fill now that the team has returned to the Coliseum. Outside of the physically imposing Aaron Donald, it’s not clear whether this current roster has the intensity of their Hall of Fame brethren.


On a lighter note, centers are never big name tickets on any team, but already our favourite Ram is the tank loving Eric Kush, who backs up his Fat-Arm-Friday promise from Episode 1, this time with a little help from his O-line. This is a glimpse of the Hard Knocks we love, but unfortunately it’s a bit lost within an episode that gravitates towards Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin gooning around for the cameras, and the opening pre-season game against the Cowboys.

So far, it seems, that the LA fan base are backing their Rams – the Coliseum was full for the opening night, in stark contrast to their final season there in ’94. This season of Hard Knocks may not have had the greatest starts (neither did the Rams against the Cowboys for that matter!), but we’re hoping it only gets better from here on.

This season of Hard Knocks starts on Sky Sports 2 tonight at 10:30pm. Episode 1 and 2 are available on the NFL Game Pass right now. New episodes go up every Friday.

“Hard Knocks ’16: Ep1” – The 5th Down UK review

hardknocksLet’s make one thing clear – at the 5th Down UK, we love Hard Knocks. It’s been brilliant for the UK market, and has gradually got more accessible, starting on Channel 4 with the ’13 Bengals, through to the last few seasons on Sky Sports. It’s also helped newcomers to the sport understand what it takes to be a professional footballer in the NFL just as much as it highlights what it means to the players who aren’t able to make it. It’s with this affection in mind when we say that the 1st episode of the new 2016 series was massively disappointing.

We’d be very surprised if the nickname “Hollywood Jeff Fisher” catches on

The Rams are a side who haven’t had a winning season since 2003. Head Coach Fisher (who we see literally fishing in the opening scenes) hasn’t coached a winning team since 2008. For all their talent, this is a team established in mediocrity, and we worry that this series, as with the fates of the Rams, may end up in the shadow of the superb “All or Nothing” series that covered their NFC West rivals, the Cardinals and their effervescent Coach Arians.

Part of the backdrop of the series (and presumably a big reason why the Rams were selected), is the new location of Los Angeles – the Rams going back to a city they left in 1995 because of lack of fan interest, and a long spread of mediocre play. The NFL have a lot invested in the Rams being successful in LA, and when Les Snead sold the house in the draft earlier this year to bring in a big name QB in Californian Jared Goff, it was surely to try and reignite some excitement about pro football in such a big media market. The jury will be out on Goff until he actually hits the field, but as this episode highlights, he still has to win the starting job.

kushOn the positive side, Hard Knocks has always thrown up some unlikely stars, and the brightest moments of the opening episode see Aaron Donald show how much he cares about table tennis, and Eric Kush walk us through his wonderful collection of tanks. This was all classic Hard Knocks.

We hope as the season goes on, we see more of Donald and Kush, and a little less of Gurley and Goff, who both seem to be overly aware of the cameras. As Fisher says – there is a little too much “7 and 9 bullshit” around this team. Let’s hope this season of Hard Knocks can avoid the same fate.

Hard Knocks will be on Sky Sports later in August, and episode 1 is now up on NFL Game Pass, and new episodes go up every Friday.

Interview with Bengals’ Special Teams Coordinator Darrin Simmons

Darrin Simmons is in his 14th season leading the coaching of Cincinnati’s special teams, he became Special Teams Coordinator in 2013

It could have been so different for the Cincinnati Bengals last season if their players had just kept their composure in that infamous wild card game at home to Pittsburgh.

Shall we recap? Sorry Bengals fans, but in case you need reminding:

The game was seemingly sealed with the Bengals 16-15 up. The Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones threw a bad interception, but the Bengals fumbled the ball right back as they were trying to run out the clock.

Ben Roethlisberger came back in the game and, though his arm appeared to be hindered, led the Steelers down to the Bengals’ 47-yard line with 22 seconds remaining after a 12-yard completion on fourth-and-3 to Antonio Brown. That’s when the Bengals committed two penalties that will live in infamy.

Vontaze Burfict laid a malicious, head-hunting hit on Brown, thus handing the Steelers a free 15 yards. Then cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones gave the Steelers another 15 with a personal foul. Now at the 17-yard line, Chris Boswell easily booted a chip-shot game-winning field goal to advance the Steelers.

It’s been a long offseason for the Bengals and the players will be desperate to get their first preseason game under their belts when they host the Minnesota Vikings tonight.

Cincy drafted well in spring. William Jackson III, the athletic CB from the University of Houston, has been highly praised by Bengals coaching staff this summer. Expect to see Jackson line up on special teams at some point, but he’s going to have to earn that spot, “it’s almost like becoming a freshman again, he’s (Will) got to work his way up” said Special Teams Coordinator Darrin Simmons in an interview with KB & Dubs on the 5thDownUK podcast.

“We’ve got some veteran guys here who aren’t going to let him just come in here and take their jobs,” added Simmons, “he’s going to have to earn that spot and we’ve been very successful.”

Simmons is aware that his rookie CB didn’t play much special teams in college but he told us that he’s going to be ready for it now.

The Bengals’ coach is in his 14th season leading special teams, and for the fourth straight season in 2016, he carries the title of Special Teams Coordinator.


Simmons is a farmer’s son from south west Kansas and, despite the riches of professional football, that’s his favourite place to unwind. “I go back home to my parents’ farm and I help my dad with the wheat harvest,” said Simmons.

We spoke to him before OTAs finished and asked him how he spends his vacation before the intensity of training camp and the new season kicks in. “I view being a coach in the NFL as a gift. It’s not something that’s continuously given, I have to earn that so I always feel that I have to outwork the other coaches that I go against.”

Darrin Simmons has built one of the strongest special teams in the league, but he remains humble, “I can never sit back and enjoy the position I’m in because I always feel that there’s someone after that position.” It’s that winning mentality that makes him successful. He aspires to one day become a head coach himself, but for now he’s committed to bringing success to Cincinnati, “It keeps me going (success), it fuels me, it makes me feel like I have to keep ahead of everyone else.”

But for five weeks of the year he goes home to Elkhart in Kansas and does the things he did as a child, harvesting wheat. “It’s really neat. It’s fun; it’s what I grew up doing so it’s what I know.”

“I can go back there, it’s a vacation for us and I never think about football. I just think about getting that wheat cut before there’s any kind of storm,” added Simmons.

Now fully rested he’ll be hoping the Bengals will hit the ground running in a tough AFC North to prevent the storm clouds from circling over the Paul Brown Stadium.



“Last Chance U” – The 5th Down UK review


Last Chance U is the story of the 2015 Eastern Mississippi Community College Lions.

The Lions are no ordinary team, having won 3 national championships under head coach Buddy Stephens in the previous 4 years.

They are also extraordinary in that they accept student athletes that no one else wants – a team of misfits and outcasts. And they don’t just beat everyone – they thump everyone. To make it to a National Championship, you need a perfect season with the biggest point spread. It’s because of this that they are also the most hated team in the state.

If you, like us, are mourning the end of the recent “All or Nothing” Amazon series, then this is the wrong place – you’ll have to wait for the upcoming “Hard Knocks” series for an inside look at the world of professional athletes. Last Chance U has more in kin with  Friday Night Lights, or the superb Oscar winning documentary Undefeated.

Outside of the draft, there is little coverage of top College football in the UK, so it’s likely few are aware of the Junior College system. These colleges offer students a 2 year, post-high school education. Most Ju-Co students will receive a vocational associate degree and head off to work, others will go on to a bigger University to complete a full degree. Ju-Co athletes meanwhile, are looking to get a scholarship at a Division 1 University that for some reason eluded them in previous years. Top talents like DJ Law and Ronald Ollie didn’t have the grades, while QB John Franklin III transferred from Florida State for an opportunity to play football.

Set in the rundown backdrop of Scooba, Mississippi, we meet the young men who hope the 2015 Ju-Co season will provide them with one final chance of a pro-football career. They need to make the grades, and win another National Championship to gain the attention of the big College scouts. Don’t expect to love these kids – they are equally frustrating and obnoxious as they are talented. Don’t expect to love Buddy Stephens – he is as explosive and divisive as he is ambitious. But you will fall for the story, especially as the show reaches the 3rd act which is teased in the opening scenes of episode 1.

The real star of the show is Brittany Wagner, the college Academic Advisor who has to chase these athletes around campus to ensure they make class, make grades, and make the field. Just as Coach Taylor’s wife Tami was the star of Friday Night Lights, Wagner is the heart beat of the College, and the only reason Coach Stephens is able to field a full roster each week.


The production quality of the show is superb, with the EMCC marching band providing a poignant sense of local community. The features on the people of Scooba are inspired inclusions; with accents so thick that half of the series requires sub-titles, seeing behind the scenes at Scooba reinforces just how important this school is to a deprived area of Mississippi (although one of the featured Scooba residents does seem to be an Eddie Murphy character from Coming to America – see if you can spot the resemblance!). What the series does miss though is the other side of the College sports system, how the school is able to afford such top class facilities in such a poor area of the country – often it seems the Lions wear a sparkling new uniform in every game, which contrasts badly with how deprived the town of Scooba is, and the social background of most of the players.

Overall, Last Chance U is a fascinating piece, which grows the recent trend of extremely high quality documentary series on the game of football. After watching All or Nothing, this series is essential watching to see how difficult it can be just to make it to the top.

You can find Last Chance U on Netflix


5th Down UK interviews… Steffan Powell

In the 2nd of our series of interviews with UK NFL fans, we spoke to Steffan Powell; reporter and presenter for Newsbeat, BBC Radio 1, and 1 Xtra.


How did you fall in love with Football?

When I was growing up there was a TV show on Channel 4 every Saturday morning called BLITZ! Presented by the wonderfully sarcastic Gary Imlach. It had highlights of the weeks action and I immediately loved the colourful kits, mascots and helmets. I would have been around 8 or 9 then. The more I watched the more I fell in love with how dramatic the sport is; the big hits, hail mary’s and last gasp victories. Finding Madden (1996 I think was my first) then cemented my love of the sport for ever more.

Who’s your team, and why?

I’ve always been and always will be an Oakland Raiders fan! It all started because my big sister had a Raiders jumper (that I stole and wore myself obviously). 250px-oakland_raiders-svgI also loved the Raiders logo and mascot growing up. It also helped that while in secondary school the team was doing really well! Rich Gannon, Tim Brown, Bill Romanowski and the Woodsons were great to watch! Learning more about the history of the team as well has been fun. It’s cool to follow a team with such a tradition of being mavericks and outsiders. I’ve seen some good times (AFC titles in the early 2000s) and the bad times (Andrew Walter anyone?).

What is your favourite footballing memory?

My favourite footballing memory is not actually NFL related – it’s lifting a national trophy as defensive co-ordinator for the Cardiff University Cobras. But in NFL terms my favourite footballing memory is getting to see the Raiders play in the flesh at Wembley – I’d been following the team for more than 15 years by then so that was pretty cool even if they did get a beatdown!

Who is your favourite player of all time?

Charles Woodson is my favourite player of all time. He was a star when I first really followed and got to know the sport and was a top pro ever since. 800px-charles_woodson_2014_2I also played (I use that term in the loosest sense of the word!) in the secondary for my team, so have always loved safeties and corners! As well as being the top player in two positions and winning the Lombardi trophy, Woodson was class act off the field. Rich Gannon, Rod Woodson and Ray Lewis would also be in the mix for me.

And your favourite player currently playing?

Controversially I might have to opt for a non-Raider here… I adore watching Aaron Rodgers play football. His goofy persona and skill set makes him eminently likeable in my eyes. The way he evades pressure and slings the ball downfield, without being a freak athlete like Cam Newton, is fun to watch. He’s the NFL equivalent of an old sharpshooting cowboy in the wild west making trick shots with his pistol for money.

With the elite quarterbacks either retiring, or in their 30s, who is the next superstar?

This one’s easy! Derek Carr. 800px-derek_carr_2015He’s already an efficient, competent pocket passer and he’s not even scratched the surface of his potential. He makes good decisions and has a big arm. Now with more confidence he’ll start making even more big plays. It helps that he has an ever improving cast of players around him. Watch him blossom into an elite quarterback in the NFL soon. Not that i’m biased of course…

You were a coach at university?

I played corner for the Cardiff University Cobras and captained the team but I blew out my ACL at the start of my 3rd year. jjbciwe7_400x400I loved the game and the guys I played with so much that I hung around and coached. Starting as assistant DB coach and ending up as DC. University teams in the UK are better on the ground than passing so we ran a mean 3-5 defence! In 2011 we won the second tier national title – easily the proudest moment of my football life (we shutout the opposition in the final as well!).

If we get a team in the UK, can you see UK universities starting up their own football programmes?

I think there are around 80 universities in the UK that have football teams at the moment. Obviously they’re no way comparable to US university programmes. I can’t see that changing much either to be honest even with a franchise coming here. University sport in the UK is just not the same as the US because you can become professional at any age. NCAA eligibility rules, and how they work with the NFL, are part of the reason college football is so big in the US. But what it will do is increase the visibility of the sport in the UK which should help those 80 teams get access to better funding and facilities – something I know that lots of them struggle with at times.

What do you think has to happen for us to get a London franchise? Would it have to be an Eastern divisional team?

I don’t think it does. Given it seems the owners don’t want another expansion of the league, to get a London franchise it’ll most likely have to be a relocation. I think therefore that whichever team is most suited to relocate will come here – regardless of which division they’re in.

With that in mind, if we were to get a UK-based team should the draft extend out to this country?

I think it’s good news that international players are now starting to get drafted. However it should only be on merit. If we see that, with a team here, more young people are taking up the sport and are good enough to get drafted then that’s great. The league has tried to artificially place foreign talent into squads before and they didn’t quite make it. Therefore we should wait until the players are good enough.

And finally, if a younger Steffan were to be drafted in the 2016 draft what position would you play?

Corner. They used to call me shutdown Steffan*

*Disclaimer – no-one called me that…

You can follow Steffan on Twitter at @SteffanPowell

“All or Nothing” – The 5th Down UK review

If “Hard Knocks” is the Odell Beckham of the NFL Films roster, then the recent arrival of “All or Nothing” must be Jerry Rice. Quite simply, All or Nothing can only be described as Hard Knocks with big boy pants on.


Following a similar style to the now familiar Hard Knocks, the documentary series chooses one team, and instead of following them through the pre-season, it broke ground by going deep behind the scenes with the Arizona Cardinals for the whole of the 2015 season. The one criticism of Hard Knocks has been the questionable quality of the teams involved; not so with this series – the Cards were hot favourites for a deep playoff run in 2015, if not favourites to go all the way.

The choice of the Cardinals was inspired – they were coming off a season of heartache, having had their 2014 hopes crushed by decimating injuries at QB, resulting in a post-season thumping. They also boasted a roster littered with fascinating personalities, and a star turn in the incredible Head Coach, Bruce Arians.

You could probably make an 8 part documentary just about Arians’ life story, and it is his wonderful personality and charm that anchors the show throughout the series. The players are very much the supporting cast, but just like Arians ability to find a gem either through the draft, or a veteran via free agency, there are very few busts. The players might play up and relax in equal measure in the presence of the cameras, but their commitment to the cause is never questioned.

The extended schedule of 8 episodes allows us to into the homes of not only the star attractions like Patrick Peterson and Carson Palmer, but also some of the lesser known heroes – guys like Lyle Sendlein, an 8 year veteran who lives year-to-year without ever getting a long term contract, who joins his Dad for a burger in the after-game tailgate. We also get a fleeting glimpse of former British Olympian and 49er Lawrence Okoye, who falls foul of Arians strict parking rules.

The show makes for exhilarating and addictive watching – I binged the whole series over 2 nights, and despite knowing what happened to the Cards in the NFC championship game in January, I found myself on the post-season rollercoaster all over again. Ultimately it’s another heart breaking journey, not just because of the results on the field – watching star safety Tyrann Mathieu go down with a season ending injury is pretty painful, but seeing Arians tearing up, and seeing Mathieu in the locker room and on the sidelines supporting his team mates makes it so much more tragically real.


As with the Cardinals season, this series ends on an emotional note. The near legendary Larry Fitzgerald had put the team on his back against the Packers, but in the final moments of the series, Fitz is left sitting with his back to the locker room following the final game of the season; it’s a poignant but hugely respectful moment for a player destined for the Hall of Fame, but who may have just missed his last chance for glory. Having taken us on the journey for the whole season, this scene is typical of the film makers class and quality to be able to capture such beautiful moments.

All or Nothing is already a must-see for all NFL fans (and we’d recommend it to those who aren’t!) We now await with anticipation what team will get the cameras for this coming season – they’ll have big cleats to follow…..

You can find All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals on Amazon Prime Video.