Sean Pendergast

Rating the NFL Teams Eligible To Be Chosen For Hard Knocks

As Ferris Bueller once said, "The NFL calendar moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it." Actually, I believe Ferris was talking about life in general, but it doesn't change my take that it feels like just yesterday that I went home and sobbed myself to sleep over Deshaun Watson's torn ACL. (It was actually November 2.)

Now, not only is the NFL Draft over with, but we are steaming toward 2018 training camp, which means we are also steaming towards the next season of HBO's annual NFL masterpiece, Hard Knocks. Here is where I make my annual lament as to how much I miss 2015, when the Texans were on Hard Knocks, and it was the easiest summer ever to generate content for the radio and this blog.

Those were good times. So, which fan base/media horde will have the content machine in overdrive this summer? in other words, which NFL team will be the subject of Hard Knocks? We know 26 teams that can say "no thanks" should HBO and the NFL approach them, and they are the 26 teams that fit the following criteria:

1. They have a first-year head coach in place
2. They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons
3. They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years

That leaves the following six teams, ranked in reverse order of preference (MY preference):

This is the story of a team that is quasi-homeless right now, as they play their games in a soccer stadium in Los Angeles while they wait a few more years to be Stan Kroenke's tenant in the Rams' new facility in Inglewood. It'd be fun to see what it's like inside Philip Rivers' Film-mobile — Rivers is the one Charger who still lives in San Diego, and his vehicle is basically a film room on wheels, good stuff — but then what? I feel like we've done this "homeless LA team" story already with the Rams, and that season was a down season, by Hard Knocks' lofty standards.

I think it would be fun to learn more about Jimmy Garoppolo, since he is now one of the highest paid players in the league, from a body of work that isn't even a half of a full season. Beyond that, all we have are a few questions about why they are seemingly getting a pass for cutting Colin Kaepernick and not re-signing Eric Reid in free agency. (My plea to Hard Knocks  — can we please stay clear of the protests as a topic? I don't need it infringing on my show enjoyment.)

The Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson with a first round pick, which means the clock is ticking on the fraudulence of post-Super Bowl Joe Flacco. Yeah, Flacco will be the Ravens' starter this season, but it would be fun to see the pot get stirred after a few preseason interceptions in practice or games. I also sense we would get a training camp follow up to Orlando Brown's horrid combine, some kind of  "rookie struggle" storyline, where they take about him being a Raven legacy (like Flounder in Animal House).

Now, we are getting somewhere. I need five weeks of John Elway giving hot takes on his team that don't even come close to being true. Also, ratings in Houston would be through the roof with Case Keenum as the unquestioned starter of an NFL team in training camp for the first time in his career. (Case was basically portrayed as window dressing for Jared Goff back in 2016.)

The Redskins had a nice cameo in the Texans' season of Hard Knocks, when the two teams got into multiple fights during workouts in Richmond, prompting Johnathan Joseph's now famous line "We gotta get the f*** outta Richmond." I think Daniel Snyder's delusion alone could be enough to carry a full five-episode season of Hard Knocks.

The good news here is that all of the rumors seem to indicate that it will be Cleveland's season for Hard Knocks. Any time a show like this focuses on a team that has been a complete train wreck for decades, it's a pretty good day. Like 2016 with the Rams and Goff, we would get an up close look at the first overall pick in the draft being groomed to save a city, with Tyrod Taylor playing the role of Case Keenum. I also feel like there are literally hundreds of Browns fans that will make for fantastic vignettes, and then there's the Cleveland GM, John Dorsey, who seems to be a Type A, rub-everybody-the-wrong-way kind of personality. I am in for that, as well.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast