The fourth episode of "Hard Knocks" played a lot more like another HBO show than what we've grown accustomed to over the last month. It felt like the writers from "Hung," a show infused with the economic hardships of recent years, took over for this week because everything was about how little money our scrappy band of Jets had to use to build their team.
Kellen Clemens took a starring role as the backup quarterback weighed taking a cut in salary to keep his job as a guy who will only play if absolute disaster strikes and wipes out both Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. Laveranues Coles was praised at every corner (and shown walking down a hallway for what felt like 20 minutes) before getting cut so that the team didn't have to guarantee his salary. Mike Tannenbaum was shown stressing several times about having backup players making more than the bare minimum and, more than once, the team invoked Darrelle Revis's name as the reason why they were pinching pennies.
It didn't ring true. Not in an uncapped year when the Jets have made it quite clear that there's nothing you won't do to win a championship. Not when you've assured everyone that money is no problem for the Jets. Not when Revis isn't with the team as they prepare for their final preseason game and not when you're about to open a new stadium with high ticket prices.
It's not about Clemens, Coles, Adalius Thomas or anyone else specifically. It's the general theme of crying poor when you're cutting players that you're saying can help you win. Maybe you don't really believe that those players can help, but it feels like little more than another PR gambit in the Revis negotiations. If you're really clipping coupons, put them to use and stop the bellyaching.
Despite all the financial doom and gloom, there was still some fun to be had on Wednesday night. Let's take a look at the highs and lows, shall we?
Low: Watching Vladimir Ducasse and Matt Slauson playing left guard on passing plays. They did cherry pick the worst moments, but let's hope that this isn't foreshadowing and early end to Sanchez's season. Slauson is clearly ahead of Ducasse, who looks really raw.
High/Low: It was good to see Sanchez developing a bond with Santonio Holmes, but there's just something too swooning teenager about the QB saying dinner and a movie was the route to his heart. It was good to see Sanchez being one of the guys when it came to being teased, but why was he so sure about where to find a unicorn/rainbow desktop? And, though it happened off-screen, there's just nothing good about Sanchez going to a Justin Bieber concert.
High: The scenes from next week that featured a topless Ryan easing himself into a hot tub. Don't be bait and switching us, HBO.
High: The pillows monogrammed with Ryan's initials on a chair in Tannenbaum's office.
High/Low: Ryan taunting Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall "that's why my brother cut your ass." Hall signed a huge contract to play for Rob Ryan's defense in Oakland before getting run out of town. Great stuff, but would have been better if Hall didn't pick off Sanchez on the next play.
High: The look of abject terror on the face of the official who thought Kris Jenkins was yelling at him after the Redskins tried a kick. Note to self: Do not come up from behind and put your hands on Jenkins' rear end.
Quote of the Week, Non-Ryan Division: Slim pickings this week but we'll go with Nick Mangold for his chat with Albert Haynesworth, the overpaid Redskins defensive tackle who missed a week of camp because he couldn't pass a conditioning test. "You're looking spry out there with all that conditioning."
Quote of the Week, Rex Ryan Division: Ryan chewed his team out for a lack of seriousness at a practice in Hofstra, including his defense's decision to chow down on cheeseburgers just before the workout got underway. He closed with this diatribe and it is the closing line that earned this award. "Let’s make sure we play like the f---ing New York Jets! And not some f---ing slap d--- team. That’s what I want to see tomorrow. Do we understand what the f--- I want to see tomorrow? Let’s go eat a goddamn snack."