'Hard Knocks' 2018: How Teams Perform When Appearing On HBO's NFL Show

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'Hard Knocks' 2018: How Teams Perform When Appearing On HBO's NFL Show

The Cleveland Browns could be much improved in 2018 if the history of "Hard Knocks" means anything.

The Cleveland Browns could be much improved in 2018 if the history of "Hard Knocks" means anything.

The Cleveland Browns will be the subject of the upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” The show will feature a Browns' team that’s coming off a winless season and currently finds itself in one of the worst stretches in American team sports history.

Following a 0-16 campaign, the Browns have just one victory in the last two years. Cleveland has a 4-44 record since 2015, and they haven’t made the playoffs since the 2002 season. The organization decided to retain head coach Hue Jackson, making them unable to refuse to be on the show, despite general manager John Dorsey’s reservations.

“I don’t believe we’re on Hard Knocks,” Dorsey said on ESPN Cleveland 850, via Cleveland.com, just two weeks ago. “I don’t think there’s anything good that comes out of Hard Knocks, but we’ll see.”

Things certainly can’t get any worse for the Browns, who have lost 34 of their last 35 games. There are reasons for the fanbase to be excited after Cleveland drafted quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns took defensive end Myles Garrett with the No.1 overall selection in 2017.

No team featured on “Hard Knocks” has ever won fewer than four games, though none have gone on to win the Super Bowl. Three of the 12 teams won their division and five have reached the playoffs. The 2010 New York Jets were the only team that made it to the conference championship game.

Teams have gone a combined 91-101 in their “Hard Knocks” seasons, giving them an average of 7.6 wins per year. A seven-win season would have to be considered a success for the Browns in 2018.

Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks past a video board displaying an image of Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma after he was picked #1 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Let’s take a closer look at how each team has fared after appearing on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

Baltimore Ravens (2001)

HBO went with the defending Super Bowl champions for the first and only time in the inaugural season of “Hard Knocks.” Baltimore failed to repeat and win another title, though they did go 10-6 and win their wild-card playoff game. A year after having maybe the greatest defense of all-time, Baltimore allowed the second-fewest yards in the NFL with three Pro Bowlers. Elvis Grbac was a disappointment as the team’s new quarterback, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.

Dallas Cowboys (2002)

It only made sense to put the spotlight on “America’s Team” in the show’s second season. The filming came at the end of one of the worst stretches in franchise history, and the Cowboys went 5-11 for the third straight season. Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter split time under center as Dallas struggled to find a replacement for Troy Aikman. Only the expansion Houston Texans—who beat Dallas in Week 1—and the Carolina Panthers ranked lower in total offense than the Cowboys.

Kansas City Chiefs (2007)

“Hard Knocks” returned from its hiatus with a Chiefs’ team that won an AFC Wild-Card spot with a 9-7 record in 2006. With Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle replacing Trent Green at quarterback, Kansas City had the AFC’s worst offense in 2007, resulting in a 4-12 record and last place in the AFC West. The Chiefs totaled 10 wins from 2007-2009.

Dallas Cowboys (2008)

This Cowboys’ team had a much better season than the one that first appeared on “Hard Knocks.” Dallas missed the playoffs, but they did manage to go 9-7, finishing over .500 for the fourth straight year. The season ended on a sour note as the Cowboys were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles 44-6 in Week 17 with a playoff berth on the line. DeMarcus Ware was the team’s best player with 20 sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals (2009)

The “Hard Knocks” season that introduced Chad Johnson’s “Child Please” catchphrase to the world preceded what would be a successful season on the field for Cincinnati. Johnson and Carson Palmer might be the biggest names from that team, but it was the Bengals’ fourth-ranked defense that propelled them to a 10-6 record and their first AFC North title in four years. After being shut out by the New York Jets on the road in Week 17, Cincinnati lost at home to New York on Wild-Card Weekend.

New York Jets (2010)

All things considered, this might have been the best “Hard Knocks” season ever. We got to see Rex Ryan’s now famous “snack” speech as he coached a team that had just come off an improbable run to the AFC Championship Game. The Jets fell one win short of reaching the Super Bowl, once again, going 11-5 with road playoff wins over both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady before losing in Pittsburgh.

Miami Dolphins (2012)

After there was no “Hard Knocks” season in 2011 because of the potential lockout, the show focused on a forgettable Dolphins’ team. Miami went 7-9 and missed the playoffs, posting a losing record for the fourth straight season. It was Ryan Tannehill’s first year in the NFL. Cameron Wake was an All-Pro with 15 sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals (2013)

Cincinnati’s second season on the show was similar to their 2009 appearance. The Bengals won the AFC North with an 11-5 record, though they couldn’t win a playoff game. Cincinnati had a top-three defense and a top-10 offense. Andy Dalton had the best season of his career up to that point, and A.J. Green established himself as an elite wide receiver. For the third straight year, the Bengals failed to score more than 13 points in a loss on Wild-Card Weekend.

Atlanta Falcons (2014)  

“Hard Knocks” caught Atlanta after a 2013 campaign that saw them go from 13 wins to just four wins. The 2014 season wasn’t much better for the Falcons. They went 6-10 with a third-place finish in the AFC West, and head coach Mike Smith was fired. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones put up impressive numbers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL.

Houston Texans (2015)

We got to see J.J. Watt get ready for the final season of a historic run of defensive dominance as he won his third Defensive Player of the Year Award in four years. Houston’s defense was good enough to drag a team that started four different starting quarterbacks to the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The Texans won an extremely weak AFC South and were pummeled at home in their only postseason game, losing 30-0 to Kansas City.

Los Angeles Rams (2016)

During “Hard Knocks,” we learned that Jared Goff didn’t know where the sun rises, and during the season, we discovered that he wasn’t ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. A year before the No.1 overall draft pick became a Pro Bowler, Goff was arguably the league’s worst signal caller over the course of his seven starts. He eventually replaced Case Keenum, who led the team to a 3-1 start in the first four games back in Los Angeles. That hot start came to a crashing halt when the Rams lost 11 of their final 12 games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2017)

Few teams had a more disappointing 2017 campaign than the Bucs. Tampa Bay, along with Jameis Winston, was expected to take another step forward after the team went from six wins to nine wins in the quarterback’s first two years as a pro. Instead, the Bucs went 5-11 and became the only NFC South team to miss the playoffs. Winston missed three games with injuries, going 1-9 over his last 10 starts with 13 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

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