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All or Nothing: An inspiring tale of eternal mediocrity

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

On Friday, Amazon released the second season of All or Nothing, which follows an NFL team throughout the season to feature a behind-the-scenes look at how an NFL team operates. The show debuted in 2015 by following the Arizona Cardinals, who went 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship game before a Carson Palmer meltdown left them short of reaching the Super Bowl. This season follows the LA Rams, and while the team was mediocre, there was no shortage of action as the team moved from St. Louis to LA and eventually fired their coach mid-season.

If you’re a fan of the NFL, you should watch this show. It has all the production value of Hard Knocks (both shows partner with NFL Films) but rather than focusing on mostly the roster bubble as Hard Knocks does, All or Nothing is all about the coaching staff, star players, and overall health of the team. Once the season starts, wins are what matters. The contrast between following a contending team in 2015 (Cardinals) and a team whose season was effectively over halfway through the 2016 season (Rams) was very interesting.

To follow are some scattered observations (if you follow me on twitter, many of these will look familiar).

Aaron Donald

In Hard Knocks, Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin were given top billing as the stars of the team, with Donald not getting much screen time. This was sort of justified as Gurley had just won 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year and Austin signed a huge extension in August. However, once the season started, it became obvious that the Rams have one star player: super-mega-star Aaron Donald. Gurley and especially Austin were relegated to supporting roles in All or Nothing, with Donald and the rest of the defensive line taking center stage.

Here is a sequence of Donald treating the Seahawks o-line like children:

At the end of this clip, that’s Donald telling Justin Britt to not help Ja'Marcus Webb, then turning to Webb and telling him to “be a man” and not ask for help. Seahawks fans, remember when the team asked Ja’Marcus Webb to block Aaron Donald in Week 2 with Wilson nursing an injured ankle? O-line building in the 2016 offseason did not go so well.

A couple more Aaron Donald moments. First, despite the Rams taking cheap shots at an injured Wilson throughout the game, Wilson seeks out Donald to tell him “you’re a beast out there, keep balling bro.”

And second, perhaps Donald has some sort of affection for Russell Wilson, as here he is giving his best impression after the Week 2 game:

I expected to come out of watching this with an extreme dislike for Aaron Donald, but over the course of the season it morphed into more of a grudging respect. I am still terrified of him ending Wilson’s season every time they play each other, but he comes across as a good teammate and hard worker.

Jared Goff

Over the last offseason, as recently detailed on Field Gulls by Peter Alexieff, the Rams traded 2 2nd picks and their future 1st and 3rd round picks to move up from their 2016 #1 pick to select Jared Goff. Goff was deemed not ready to start until midway through the 2016 season, and once he did start, there were some kinks to work out:

I’m the last person in the world to read a lot into intangibles and nebulous leadership qualities, but Goff’s attempts to fire up the team on the sideline or in the huddle were...not inspiring. It felt like watching a less confident version of what Russell Wilson detractors think Russell Wilson is. Add that to finishing last in the league in DYAR despite only playing a partial season and early returns to the Goff trade are not good.

Les Snead

I might have missed it, but I don’t remember Snead ever appearing on the show. I kept waiting for him to get fired and then once All or Nothing ended I looked it up and he’s still their GM! Incredible!

Jeff Fisher

Fisher ignoring officials’ requests to cut out the extracurricular nonsense between plays? I am shocked!

Fisher came across exactly how he did in Hard Knocks: fiercely loyal to his guys and probably a great guy outside of football, but not an inspiring coach.

Goodbye, Jeff Fisher. You are gone but not forgotten.