The New York Jets’ 2010 appearance on ‘Hard Knocks’ remains one of the most popular editions
Could the New York Jets‘ premium cable endeavors be renewed for another season? Some of the NFL’s latest developments at least puts them a step closer.
Thanks to several coaching vacancies across the NFL, only three teams are eligible for a potentially mandated appearance on “Hard Knocks”, the popular HBO reality series that provides an inside look into a squad’s training camp proceedings. The Jets are one of those teams, alongside the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions.
Despite the popularity of “Hard Knocks”, teams have often been reluctant to appear on the series due to the increased camera prescience and potential for distractions. While any team remains eligible to volunteer, the NFL can mandate certain teams to partake if no others step up.
Teams with a first-year head coach, that have appeared on the show in the past decade, or have reached either of the past two postseasons are exempt from being “forced” onto the program. Denver, Minnesota, and the New York Giants all “earned” exemption through their ongoing coaching searches after respectively bidding farewell to to Vic Fangio, Mike Zimmer, and Joe Judge.
Are the Jets HBO’s most attractive option? Jet X investigates in ranking the fateful three.
3. Detroit Lions
Football fans love to complain about the Lions and constantly call for their removal from the NFL’s Thanksgiving proceedings. That, however, didn’t stop over 27 million of them from watching Detroit’s traditional appearance in the fourth Thursday of November’s early slot.
Detroit has its holiday popularity going for it, as well as the services of second-year head coach Dan Campbell. Despite another lost season from the Lions (3-13-1), Campbell earned positive reviews for what he was able to do with a relatively undermanned roster, as well as his quotable press conferences and locker room speeches.
That personality could give the next edition of “Hard Knocks” something similar to what they had with then-Jets head coach Rex “Let’s go eat a godd*** snack” Ryan during their 2010 appearances.
Depending on how the offseason shakes out, the Lions could become some prognosticators’ darkhorse playoff pick after they won three of their last six and lost eight of their games by 10 points or less.
However, even with Campbell’s potential for Ryan-like antics, there still isn’t (for now) enough name-brand talent to sustain a month-long national look into the Lions’ preparation for 2022.
Potential storylines could be gleaned from the new adventures of Jared Goff (a franchise quarterback making his potential last stand) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (a fourth-round rookie who earned a breakout onto the scene during Detroit’s aforementioned final stretch), but that pales in comparison to the other happenings that linger elsewhere.
Amon-Ra St. Brown scores from out of the backfield! #OnePride
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2022
2. New York Jets
One of the reasons to perhaps stay from the Jets is that the sequel always winds up disappointing. Look no further than the head coaching spot: while the Jets, and others, are convinced that Robert Saleh is the right man to lead this long-gestating reclamation project, his relatively cool, collected demeanor doesn’t make for exciting television.
The Jets will always be a draw to HBO for their relatively comedic football nature – remember, this is a network that has kept “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on the air for over two decades – but also with thanks to the “New York” attached to their name.
There are also plenty of reasons to tune in from an on-field perspective. Viewers love a hero that embarks on a difficult quest, and there are plenty that can do that for the Jets.
Zach Wilson, the thrower of the foreseeable future, seems like an obvious choice to center upon, but there are other young personable heroes on the team like Elijah Moore and Quinnen Williams that check the boxes necessary for a sustained “Hard Knocks” protagonist. Additionally, potential franchise cornerstones like Mekhi Becton and Carl Lawson will be making their way back from injury.
ZACH WILSON SCRAMBLES FOR A 52-YARD TOUCHDOWN! #TakeFlight
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2021
True to the Jets’ star-crossed nature, even their success comes back to bite them. The 2010 edition (featuring the additional drama of Darelle Revis’ contract holdout, a battle for the fullback role, and Antonio Cromartie’s attempt to name all nine of his children) was simply too big to top.
HBO and the NFL have been reluctant (in contrast to the league’s coaching searches) to put up with retreads. Since 2012, only the Los Angeles Rams have appeared twice and they shared the show with their SoCal brethren, the Chargers.
1. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are a franchise that isn’t quite sure what lies ahead on their path, or even who will embark upon it. Their embattled head coach is facing a fateful third season at the helm, they’ve committed to a franchise quarterback who might not be cut out for full-time starting duties, and the star running back they’ve deemed worthy of $64 million has played ten games over the last two seasons.
In other words… they’re perfect for primetime.
There are enough storylines to fill two editions of “Hard Knocks” and there are renowned names attached to them. Sam Darnold is back in tow after the team immediately exercised his fifth-year option shortly after the Jets shipped him over and could be destined for a quarterback competition (quarterback competitions have long been a recurring element of “Hard Knocks”).
Both Darnold and coach Matt Rhule will be looking to prove that they’re able to handle major responsibilities at the NFL level and Christian McCaffrey will be facing some scrutiny thanks to the injury issues that have surfaced after inking a deal that made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. On the more optimistic side, the Panthers are blessed with some young talents that could benefit from more exposure, like D.J. Moore and Brian Burns.
Welcome to the NFL, Zach Wilson
Meet Brian Burns 🤝
— PFF (@PFF) September 12, 2021
Unlike the Lions, there are some major names engaged in some precarious positions that will keep the casual viewer intrigued and invested.
It’s easy to label the Panthers an unattractive option on paper, but some surprising options have provided some of the more memorable moments in recent “Hard Knocks” memory.
The Indianapolis Colts, for example, were an unexpected choice to headline the series’ first in-season staging but wound up getting caught up in a thrilling playoff chase.
The NFL has also used the show to introduce fans to some of its niche teams. The Houston Texans, for example, were among the first teams to be “forced” onto the program in 2015 and it produced an entertaining season, headlined by the star power of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney’s return from injury, and, of course, a battle for the starting quarterback position (with Brian Hoyer beating out Ryan Mallett).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags