HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2021: Best Colts' Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Episode 2

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 25, 2021

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, right, and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone walk off the field after a 41-15 win over the Buffalo Bills in an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The Indianapolis Colts' 41-15 road victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, which featured running back Jonathan Taylor amassing five touchdowns and 204 scrimmage yards, served as the backdrop for the Week 2 edition of the first-ever midseason Hard Knocks.

Many storylines existed leading into the game.

The Colts wanted to jump over .500 and firmly supplant themselves as a playoff contender. The Bills hoped to continue the momentum of their 45-17 win over the New York Jets after an ugly 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars the week prior.

On an individual level, Taylor looked to continue his crusade as the NFL's likely rushing king this year as he kept the Colts' offense chugging.

However, this game was particularly personal for Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was a backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills from 1985-1994 and notably authored the greatest comeback in NFL history.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Homecoming.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/Xx9iCNhxsp">pic.twitter.com/Xx9iCNhxsp</a>

NFL Films @NFLFilms

This one's personal for Coach 👀<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/yJBzTJfDjU">pic.twitter.com/yJBzTJfDjU</a>

Reich's Bills career and his playing memories were a focus in this episode, and the cameras were rolling as the Colts coach went out to dinner with a pair of old Bills teammates in special teams ace Steve Tasker and NFL all-time sack leader Bruce Smith.

Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner swung by and even got to meet Smith, and the two exchanged compliments.

Reich comes off as a caring human being and leader who strongly cares about the well-being of his players, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports praised the ex-Bills signal-caller.

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Frank Reich is a badass man. Love that dude. So genuine and a true leader. Awesome to see Hard Knocks shine this light on him. He's gonna win a lot of games in this league for a long time

His confidence in his players is also clearly evident, and Taylor said as much on the Pat McAfee Show:

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

Frank Reich never seems to waver in confidence.<br><br>"It's always been a 1-0 mentality &amp; he has been that steady rock of not gettin too high or too low" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PatMcAfeeShowLIVE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForTheShoe?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForTheShoe</a> <a href="https://t.co/rYCxPk10x4">pic.twitter.com/rYCxPk10x4</a>

The episode ended with the focus on Taylor, who now has an NFL-high 15 touchdowns on the year. Taylor even thanked each of his offensive linemen personally:

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

JT scoring his fifth touchdown, then going to the sideline and thanking his linemen one by one is the most JT thing ever.

He also got a chance to meet up with the legendary Marshawn Lynch:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Real recognize real<a href="https://twitter.com/MoneyLynch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MoneyLynch</a> 🤝 <a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZsJnrc0d5o">pic.twitter.com/ZsJnrc0d5o</a>

Reich gave Taylor the game ball and led the team in a cheer along the way:


The locker room was wild after <a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a> scored five TDs.<br><br>Episode 2 of Hard Knocks In Season premieres tonight on HBO/HBO Max <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@colts</a> <a href="https://t.co/Qi9s8k0RxA">pic.twitter.com/Qi9s8k0RxA</a>

However, Colts veteran wideout T.Y. Hilton then took the proverbial microphone and gave a game ball to Reich, noting how personal the Bills game was for him and how he got the team prepared.

This is clearly a tight-knit group, and Reich mentioned how "special" this team was. A bunch of players also got together off the field on the Thursday before the game to eat chicken at defensive lineman Grover Stewart's place.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

The team that eats together wins together 😌<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/B7k0MC7FLJ">pic.twitter.com/B7k0MC7FLJ</a>

ESPN's Mike Wells provided commentary on his cooking tactics:

Mike Wells @MikeWellsNFL

Grover Stewart showing his old head side by doing his chicken like my grandma used to by seasoning it straight in the sink.

The road doesn't get any easier for the Colts, who will host the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Next week's edition of Hard Knocks, which will air Wednesday at 10 p.m. on HBO, should offer a focus on the events surrounding that game.