Who Should Rock in Hard Knocks in 2011?
Hard Knocks is an HBO series profiling an NFL team during their training camp that started in August of 2001 and has appeared every August since then.
In the past, HBO has been with teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and most recently, the New York Jets.
In order to have a successful Hard Knocks season, the team being profiled needs to be somewhat good, and it needs to have some memorable characters; from third stringers to the head coach.
Last season, the New York Jets were able to revolutionize the series with their ambitious and unabashed head coach Rex Ryan. Although most people enjoyed Ryan’s candid language and actions, there were some people who found Ryan to be too brash. In particular, Tony Dungy was one of the few who publicly announced his disapproval of Coach Ryan. Any press is good press apparently. Last season’s Hard Knocks was one of the most popular in the series’ history.
For this coming year, HBO would need a coach that would not be so controversial. Here is a list of teams that would be interesting suitors for the 2011 Hard Knocks season.
Who wouldn’t want to see Tim Tebow in all his holy glory for a six-episode series especially with a new head coach?
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick would make team meetings awkward with his calm seriousness, while Tom Brady’s social life would make for an attractive story.
Maurice Jones-Drew loves being in the public eye and is entertaining enough not to be another Chad Ochocinco (see the T.Ocho Show), so a season about a small market football team in Jacksonville would probably boost his team’s fan base.
St. Louis Rams
With a second year quarterback in Sam Bradford riding a semi-successful 2010 campaign (at least 6 wins); it would be interesting to see his progressions from the first to second year.
Jim Schwartz is a fiery coach with a young team that has been increasingly better during his tenure. With third year quarterback Matthew Stafford coming back hopefully injury-free, this team would make for a compelling Hard Knocks season.
5. Baltimore Ravens
For those of you who don’t know much about Ravens coach John Harbaugh, his personality is practically identical to his brother Jim who coaches at Stanford. John is intense about football and his team. He also enjoys being with his players, as the video indicates. Harbaugh seems like a personable head coach; unlike Rex Ryan of last year’s Hard Knocks season.
The Baltimore Ravens are a good team with some interesting personalities on the roster. One in particular is middle linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis’ pre-game huddles with his defense are to be appreciated by the average fan. His passion for the game surpasses most in the NFL today. Lewis has been playing for a long time, and his contract runs out in 2012. Next season could potentially be his last year in the Ravens organization and the NFL entirely. This team would be a great team to use for the 2011 Hard Knocks season for that reason.
Other players of interest are Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs on the defense and Anquan Boldin and Joe Flacco on the offense.
This season would primarily focus on the team’s ability to make the playoffs with a semi-veteran quarterback and a veteran defense, with a focus on a high-profile rookie they draft next April.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Andy Reid is perceived as the stoic head coach of the Eagles, but his players keep him from being calm. DeSean Jackson is probably one of the bigger disruptions, but that makes for good television. His antics on the field, good or bad, are entertaining for all football fans. Their chest bump proves it.
Michael Vick would be the point of emphasis. His dog fighting charges have been following him for the past few years, but the turnaround of his life is something to admire. Following him around for six weeks would make Hard Knocks’ ratings increase.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At the start of 2010, no one thought the Bucs would be as good as they are now. Being a young team, the Buccaneers have had to turn to a second year quarterback in Josh Freeman, who has led them to at least eight wins in 2010. Expectations can only rise for 2011, and a season of Hard Knocks for this franchise can only help boost their popularity.
A semi-young defense could make for an interesting storyline; Ronde Barber being the “grandfather” on the team. Barber could be a focal point for Hard Knocks because 2011 would be his 15th year in the league.
Head Coach Raheem Morris is an entertaining guy that always has a smile on his face, and it helps that he is a young coach that has energy to spend.
During the 2011 training camp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, HBO could focus on Josh Freeman’s maturity, as well as any newcomers from the draft or free agency. Although this team was thought to be in a rebuilding stage, expectations should be for the playoffs in 2011.
2. Atlanta Falcons
After a successful 2010 season (11-2 so far in 2010), the Atlanta Falcons will likely be predicted to do well again in 2011. A good team with hype like this is an added bonus to the people in the organization. Case in point: Head Coach Mike Smith.
Mike Smith has his players’ backs. Just take a look at the video. Incidents like this would create huge ratings for HBO and Hard Knocks. Smith isn’t one of those coaches that stands there like a stiff board (see Jim Caldwell and Vikings ex-coach Brad Childress). He has a colorful personality that viewers will enjoy.
Smith’s quarterback Matt Ryan is a phenomenal player. That is indisputable. Showing how he prepares for games and practices will be good insight into the mind of an NFL quarterback.
1. Seattle Seahawks
One person can make this season of Hard Knocks as good as last season's: Pete Carroll, head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks. His appetite for the game is big and the love of his players is too. He has been known to bring his surfboard to practice because he is an avid surfer. It would be exciting to watch Coach Carroll in action with his players and other coaches.
A good storyline for the Seahawks would be to profile their great young safety Earl Thomas as well as running back Marshawn Lynch’s adjustment to life in the Pacific Northwest. Also, any rookies that Pete Carroll drafts in April will be a good addition to the Hard Knocks season.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is a veteran player who has been through many successful seasons but with many injuries. A storyline following Hasselbeck’s ability to have an injury-free season would be appealing.