Ryan L. Fox
Since 2001, the series Hard Knocks has been giving NFL fans what they wanted: an in-depth look on how an NFL team conducts operations both on the field during training camp, game day preparations, what it’s like being an NFL coach and GM, plus more. It’s unfiltered, uncensored, and best off all, it’s not staged. You can bask in the glory of players who perform well as well as feel the sting when they have to be released from the team.
Over the years, we saw a multitude of teams go on Hard Knocks like the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, the New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys to name a few. However, there are teams who have yet to make an appearance like the New England Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers, as well as many others.
With the 2021 NFL Season approaching fast, there are teams that are getting floated out there who could be on Hard Knocks 2021. That being said, there are a few teams that yours truly wouldn’t mind watching them for this year’s edition of the show.
Honourable Mention: The New Orleans Saints
Okay, this breaks the traditional guidelines of Hard Knocks of having a team on that didn’t make the playoffs in the previous season but hear me out. The Saints are going through a roster purge because they are way over the cap (at least $60 million over) and having a gaping hole at quarterback after the departure of Drew Brees for retirement.
5. The Arizona Cardinals
There is a plethora of young talent and mixed veterans on this team like QB Kyler Murray, wideouts Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins, and DE Chandler Jones that could draw some excitement. Plus you throw in a bigtime personality like J.J. Watt into the mix and see how he fares in his first season on a new team after spending his entire career in one spot. It will definitely be interesting to see if the team will be able to take the next step into becoming a force in the ever so competitive NFC West Divison.
4. The Jacksonville Jaguars
Like the ol’ saying goes, you can’t have a newcomer come in and…steal the show. But in the case of the Jaguars, that could be the case with the Jaguars.
It’ll be interesting to see how the first overall draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft will fair in his inaugural rookie season (more likely than not, it’s going to be QB Trevor Lawrence so that’ll intrigue viewers). Then there’s the Urban Myer Effect. Can the college football coaching legend succeed where so many of his predecessors (i.e. Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban) have failed in the past? Not too mention we get to see Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and that slick mustache of his. And speaking of musctaches, how golden would it be to see QB Gardner Minshew unfiltered. That alone is worth the price of paying for HBO.
3. Houston Texans
If there is one thing that Americans love to watch and that are train wrecks. In the case of the Houston Texans right now, they are a train wreck that smashed right into the station.
You have a team whose franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson who wants out of there as fast as possible while the team refuses to trade him (or can’t find anybody to take him due to his massive contract). How that storyline will play out remains to be seen but it would definitely be something that people would tune in to find out the conclusion. Then you have a team personnel member in Jack Easterby (who is pretty much doing his best Jafar impression with team owner Carl McNair) pretty much calling the shots behind the scenes, which in turn is causing more drama within the team and causing a riff among players and staff.
If the Texans make it onto Hard Knocks, you can bet that viewers will tune to the drama every night.
2. New York Giants
Now I know what you are thinking as you are about to read this. Yes, this is a homer pick and yes, there is a little bias behind it (gee, a sportswriter with a team bias. Stop if you heard that one before).
All jokes, aside the Giants have a young team with so many questions on it and been coming off years of sub .500 records since 2016. Are we going to QB Daniel Jones breakthrough as a quality starter in the NFL? Can RB Saquon Barkley come back from a torn ACL last year and return to his explosive 2018 form? Can coach Joe Judge build off his 2nd half momentum from last year into 2021? Is this GM David Gettleman’s last chance to remain on the job?
I know that Giants’ ownership has refused on numerous occasions to appear on Hard Knocks with John Mara saying that the day the Giants appear on the series is the day he’s at the pearly gates with his father, Wellington Mara (God bless the Duke). But how amazing would it be to get a glimpse behind the scenes from one of the NFL’s most historic and respectable franchises. If the Giants somehow get on Hard Knocks, I guarantee that I would not leave my house until the completion of each episode.
1. The New England Patriots
For so many years, you kept hearing both Patriot fans and players talk about ‘The Patriot Way this’ and ‘The Patriot Way that’. Now this would be the best opportunity to get a full glimpse of the ins and outs of the Patriots organization, how it is run from top to bottom. Football fans would get an in-depth look inside perhaps one of the more tightly-guarded coaches in the NFL in Bill Belichick, pick his brain a little and observe how he goes through the decision-making process as both coach and de facto GM of the team.
But that’s only half of it.
Coming off a season where they missed the playoffs, a roster with potential gaping holes in multiple positions, and uncertainty at QB for the first in like 20 years, there is so much drama that fans are just begging to watch. Not to mention that there are a few personalities on the team that team that fans would absolutely enjoy watching like the McCourty twins (Jason and Devin), WR/ST Matthew Slater, DE Chase Winovich, and WR Julian Edelman.
Plus there will be a since of irony of with NFL cameras ‘spying’ on the Patriots, a ‘shoe’s on the other foot now’ if you will. Maybe the NFL should just force the Pats to be on Hard Knocks as punishment if they get caught in another 'rules violation' situation instead of docking draft picks, it'll be much more entertaining and less of a headache.
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