This morning it came out that the Browns will be the team featured on Hard Knocks this year. The instant reaction I’ve seen on twitter is excitement, as we’ll get an in depth look at the number one pick Baker Mayfield and his first NFL preseason. This should go very well for the NFL as from both his antics at Oklahoma and leading up to the draft, Baker is an enigma. He clearly knows how to market himself and use his brand to his advantage. However, I think fans who expect Baker to be the same firecracker he was at Oklahoma will be disappointed. Coming into a new team and a new league, I hope we’ll see a bit tamer more mature Mayfield which should work to his advantage. But even if he is tamer in meetings and practices, we’ll still see his personality show through in the off-field segments and it should be a treat.
Another interesting part of the Mayfield storyline will be his on-field play. From videos and reports that have surfaced from rookie mini-camp, Baker has been eaten alive by fellow top-5 pick Denzel Ward. I definitely had questions about his ability to transition into the NFL given his size, so this will be something to keep track of. In all this Baker hysteria a lot of people have forgotten that the Browns also picked up Tyrod Taylor from the Bills this offseason, who has shown that he can be a very serviceable NFL quarterback. A good quarterback battle is key to a good Hard Knocks, and we should have one here.
Also, hopefully strongly featured in this year’s Hard Knocks will be an in-depth look at the Browns coaching staff and front office. An independent filmmaker put together a short film on them which can be viewed here. I am VERY excited to get a look at how 1-31 Hue Jackson goes about his business, how he runs meetings and practices, what kind of motivator he is. I’m guessing that a lot of the players there don’t like him very much, because being well-liked by your players is good for two or three wins usually. Coming on as his defensive coordinator is Gregg Williams, of Bountygate fame. While no longer offering bounties (I hope), he’s still electric and overall just an insane human being. On top of this we’ll get a look at owner Jimmy Haslam and the front office which has been a revolving door of characters as of late. What will be billed is that this is the year the Browns get it together and turn it around, but boy do I hope we get the exact opposite.
Lastly, we have what I think will be the sneakiest good storyline, the duo of Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry. Josh Gordon is a well-known kush smoker who seems to fail a drug test every couple months like clockwork. He’s also a very interesting person, and the article written about his college life was a great look into what makes him the person he is today. I’m excited to get a look at his personality, and on top of this we have the addition of Jarvis “Juice” Landry, one of my favorite receivers in the league. Juice is the Robin to OBJ’s Batman and can be absolutely electric. All I hope is that both these guys live up to their potential and we see incredible plays on field and stuff off-field that brings us back to the T-Ochocinco days.
The Browns are one of the biggest question marks in the NFL this year, so it makes sense for them to get Hard Knocks. Personally, I was hoping that Jon Gruden and the Raiders would get it, because who would not want to watch four episodes of Gruden being Gruden in his natural element? But alas we have the Browns, and it should be a good one.