NFL Withdrawal? Try ‘All or Nothing: The Philadelphia Eagles’

Entertainment TV and Movies

All or Nothing Philadelphia EaglesAll or Nothing: The Philadelphia Eagles premieres tomorrow on Amazon Prime. I had an advance look at the series via an Amazon Studios screener, streaming it while waiting to pick up my son from community college.

As a longtime fan of NFL football, I was interested in this show, even though I’m also a longtime New England Patriots fan. Should you watch? That depends on what you want from this joint production of Amazon Studios/NFL films.

What All or Nothing: The Philadelphia Eagles Does Well

First, it handles the human stories well.

The star of the first two episodes has to be starting defensive end Brandon Graham, famously seen stripping Tom Brady of the ball in Super Bowl LII. Graham talks about the grind of playing football, and his toddler-age daughter is a delight. The video where he announces his resigning with Philadelphia features his daughter singing “Fly Eagles Fly.” It’s adorable.

The connection Philadelphia has with its Eagles is also detailed, with clips of local announcers and film of the Super Bowl victory parade. As a long-time Red Sox fan whose heart was broken in 1975, in 1978, and in 1986, and who rejoiced in 2004, I totally empathize with the Eagles fans who waited so long for a championship team. And, yes, these fans put the “fanatic” into their love of the Eagles.

In the first episode, there is quite a bit made of DeSean Jackson’s return to the Eagles. The speedy wide receiver is expected to add a new dimension to the Eagles’ offense and hopes are incredibly high coming into the 2019 season. The Eagles were a popular Super Bowl pick before this season, so it makes sense that NFL films set up a series surrounding their season.

Episodes one and two have footage of training camp, with some behind the scenes clips of quarterback Carson Wentz talking in practice about how he has to throw long to Jackson to give the fans what they want.

These first two episodes also have game footage spliced in with sideline footage on offense and defense—fun for any NFL watcher but likely especially interesting to the Eagles fans.

What All or Nothing Doesn’t Show

We have game footage, behind the scenes clips and interviews with Eagles players, staff, and owner Jeffrey Lurie. But one of the elements missing is, well, how the game actually works.

Meaning there’s little so far of the (admittedly) wonky stuff of play calling and how each position is played. Graham is shown struggling in game one. It’s not even mentioned why he might be struggling. Is he being double-teamed? Are they running to the other side of the formation? What play calls are being used to keep him in check, or is he using bad technique? Or is the offensive linemen he’s playing against just beating him?

Similarly, on Jackson’s first touchdown catch in his Eagles return, it’s not shown exactly how he was covered much of the day compared to how he beat the coverage on this particular play.

Basically, if you want a player’s-eye view of the types of things they have to study every single day, the plays they need to memorize, the different stances and formations they have to use to succeed, this isn’t the show, at least so far.

That’s a bummer to me because I love that stuff. I love play breakdowns. I would have loved to see somebody critique Nelson Agholar’s form when running routes and catching to show why he’s the third receiver on the team, rather than the first, and what might contribute to his dropped passes. The show does contain a clip that went viral of a hero civilian who literally had to catch a baby to save the child from a burning building and then said, in an interview, that he caught the baby, “unlike Agholar” in the game, who dropped what would’ve been a game-winning catch.

Should You Watch?

If you’re an Eagles fan, definitely watch. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the players and the human toll it takes on them to play the game, you should watch. If you love the NFL films productions and the sideline miked-up and the locker room clips, watch.

But if you’re interested in what, technically, goes into play-calling, technique, and all that wonky stuff, that’s lacking in the first two episodes, at least.

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