The HBO television show “Hard Knocks” has been a favorite for football fans everywhere since the show’s debut in 2001. The show depicts NFL players on and off the gridiron during training camp and throughout the preseason. It gives fans a perspective on what truly happens inside these complex football organizations.
The show selects one team to be part of the sports-based reality series every season, and the Cleveland Browns were deemed worthy of being the focus of the successful program. With a rookie quarterback in Baker Mayfield and tons of off-season acquisitions, the Browns are a perfect fit for reality television.
After each episode, we will take a closer look at the key takeaways from the show, and what it means for the Cleveland Browns. After the debut of the first episode on August 7th, there were a lot of things that jumped off the television screen that must be discussed.
1. Hue Jackson is one tough individual. The fact that a man with arguably the hottest seat in the NFL lost both his mother and brother in the same month and has to continue coaching a football team is amazing.Jackson may have not had a ton of success on the football field, but we saw a closer look at the personality of Jackson and it is easy to see why he is well-respected around the league. It was pleasant to see the Browns players rally behind their coach and tell them how much they are thinking of Jackson’s family.
2. Jackson also does not seem like the kind of guy that is going to fire up a player or make them work harder than they currently are. The episode showed instances where different players (Jarvis Landry, Christian Kirksey, etc.) showed great leadership and asked for more effort from the team. Jackson on the other hand, seemed to be more concerned about the team avoiding injuries and staying fresh.
At one point, Todd Haley looked like he wanted to reach across the table and strangle Hue Jackson because of his decision-making on keeping players out of practice. I bet Todd Haley is missing Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown right about now.
3. Speaking of that meeting with all the coaches, did it seem odd that nobody looked the least bit happy that football was back? This is possibly a reach, but I wonder if meetings for teams like the Philadelphia Eagles or Seattle Seahawks are much more laid-back and looser.
Another possibility for the anger is the fact that every coach in there is realizing at that moment that the Browns have a record of 4-44 in their last three seasons. With that kind of dysfunction, it is almost like Chip Kelly is running the team’s roster moves.
4. It is refreshing to see that Baker Mayfield has accepted the challenge of becoming a true leader in the Browns’ locker room. He comes in to an easygoing situation where he does not have the pressure to perform because of Tyrod Taylor, but he does need to show why he was selected with the No. 1 pick.
In the first episode we saw multiple signs that Mayfield was already starting to be well-liked by his peers in the locker room after his teammates viewed some highlight plays in practice. Just you wait Baker, if the Browns come out of the gates slowly, you are going to be thrown right into the fire and may be added to the infamous Browns’ quarterback jersey graveyard.
5. Jarvis Landry’s “bless up” had both a meaningful and hilarious message. Nothing was funnier than Landry sayinging his motto over and over to his teammates on both sides of the ball after making a sick one-handed grab in 11-on-11s.
Landry’s philosophy and playmaking ability has not been seen in Cleveland for several years. The Browns are used to having unproven players at their skill-positions, but Landry will surely be an upgrade. Let this be a reminder that the Browns started eight different receivers during the 2017 season.
6. Landry’s speech in the wide receiver room earlier in the episode received a ton of attention during the week on social media. As you can see, Landry’s calm and cool behavior displayed in other parts of the program was quickly forgotten as the former LSU Tiger called out his teammates for the lack of continuity when it comes to participating in practice.
Not only are the coaches disagreeing on the topic of who should practice, but this has cycled through to certain players as well. I thought Landry’s speech was common throughout NFL locker rooms and meetings, but if the Browns do not figure out who sits and who practices, they could once again be a major dumpster fire.
7. It is going to be interesting to see next week’s episode where Corey Coleman is informed of being traded to the Buffalo Bills for a seventh-round draft pick. Coleman however, should not be the least bit surprised after the former first-rounder did not show any of the potential he displayed at Baylor with the Browns.
Judging by the preview, it seems that Coleman did not take the news well and Browns fans will get an in-depth look at how Hue Jackson handles the situation. This reminds me of the Moneyball scene where Jonah Hill had to inform an Oakland Athletic that he had been traded. Hopefully Jackson took a few notes from the movie.