Yardbarker NFL writers Michael Tunison and Chris Mueller address some of the hottest questions in the league. This week’s topics: which of the likely “Hard Knocks” teams for 2019 would be most compelling.
Tunison: The oddsmakers, presumably looking to satisfy the teeming hordes waiting to lay bets on who will be the subject of a documentary series, have installed the ‘Skins as the favorite to be this year’s “Hard Knocks” team. For a while, apparently the Raiders were the favorite , meaning the country’s appetite for the Gruden brothers is thought to be extremely high, possibly insatiable. It’s unclear what exactly swung the favor toward Washington, though one must figure the team drafting Dwayne Haskins in the first round has a lot to do with it. Two out of the past three years, the “Hard Knocks” team was one with an incoming rookie quarterback, which makes sense since the show focuses on the adjustments they make during their inaugural training camp and their attempts to secure the starting job going into Week 1.
While Oakland has a number of volatile elements that could make for good TV, including their Gruden, Washington is a worthwhile selection in a number of ways. Plus, it might be worth saving the Raiders for next year, as it would be their first in Las Vegas, as the series did with the Rams’ move to LA. Jay Gruden earlier this off-season announced, to the surprise of many, that he considers the ‘Skins to be in win-now mode. While not quite as animated as brother Jon, Jay has his moments, and the pressure of entering Year 6 with his job potentially in jeopardy is bound to bring out the tension.
In terms of player storylines, there’s Haskins, the return of running back Derrius Guice after an injury that denied us a hyped rookie season, and whether tight end Jordan Reed can ever realize his potential. Josh Norman is never shy about giving provocative quotes. There’s more than initially meets the eye for a team that’s been middle of the pack for a few years running.
Admittedly, the ‘Skins would have been a much more appealing choice about 10 years ago, before the “Hard Knocks” series was defanged a little bit by the NFL for being, at least in its eyes, too revealing. The constant dysfunction inspired by owner Dan Snyder would doubtlessly have been revealed in memorable ways. It’s still likely there will be a disconcerting, or at least amusing, moment or two involving the team brass, but it’s a little sad thinking about what might have been.