HBO's Hard Knocks appears to have hit the gold mine with the Cleveland Browns, who are looking to redefine their image after two years of banality.
Welcome to Hard Knocks’ very own comeback szn.
After two straight years spent slogging through the treachery of milquetoast, un-hypeable franchises, the HBO documentary series finally has a fitting cast of characters again. The Browns, it turns out, picked the right time to emerge from their two-year slumber in hopes of maximizing the optimism surrounding Rebuild 9.0.
Here are a few takeaways from episode one:
Fans are strange: Poor Nick Chubb, who has to sit through two of the most mentally perforating conversations in recent human history at the beginning of the episode. While Baker Mayfield is regaled throughout the Cleveland airport, the second-round pick out of Georgia politely entertains a bald man asking him what sport he plays WHILE THE MAN IS ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEONE ELSE. If this regional sales director wasn’t bad enough, he was stealthily approached by the embodiment of every human you’ve ever deliberately avoided in the keg line (also, it feels important to note he was wearing a leather backpack). This guy tries the cool approach, asking Chubb if he “played any college ball.”
“Good deal,” he tells Chubb after Chubb explains he’s a running back.
Jarvis Landry is trying to make a catch phrase happen: Landry was seen revealing and then painstakingly explaining his catch phrase “Bless Him.” Over two separate sequences in the episode, there is a montage of him yelling it at opportune times on the practice field while players who already see their jerseys being removed from the team store to make room for “Bless Him” gear try to keep up.
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Area man makes wild claim: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, after letting his players know that there are “people in this room (i.e. Gregg)” who have won Super Bowls, stated that “I turned down seven other jobs to come here.” That would mean that Williams, who was hired in 2017, was wooed by 25% of the NFL. Twenty-five percent! Warren Sharp on Twitter does the math:
Ten total teams needed DCs that year, including the team that fired him and the team that hired him.
• Of the Falcons, Bills, Panthers, Browns, Broncos, Chargers, Dolphins, 49ers and Washington, only one of them didn’t offer him a deal.
• Of course, he could have been counting college jobs. Either way, it’s good to have options.
Carl Nassib steals the show: Just watch his players-only session on compounded interest. It may be the best five minutes of television you’ll watch all year. Also, you should probably hire Carl Nassib to handle your finances. Also, re-watch the scene just to peep the Browns player demolishing a plate of mussels.
In all seriousness: Hue Jackson has been through hell these last few weeks and episode one does not hide from his personal trials. There are some beautiful moments featuring the head coach, general manager John Dorsey and public relations executive Peter John-Baptiste.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones checks in with the Chiefs in Kansas City ... Doug Pederson talks about retiring the Philly Special, much to the disappointment of tattooed Pennsylvanians everywhere ... Andy Benoit previews the 2018 Raiders.
1. Richie Incognito's troubling post-career run continues with a Tweetstorm directed at Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
2. Jamal Adams thought that the Jets had a losing vibe in 2017.
3. Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, and would probably make a really good columnist, too. Here, he cuts to the heart of the president's crusade against football.
4. Someone may have told Browns general manager John Dorsey that there are still some Sashi Brown-era players left in the building, because the trade winds are still a-blowin' in Cleveland.
5. The Bears' defensive assistant coaches met with reporters on Tuesday. Some highlights.
6. Absent the gravitas that comes with Bruce Arians' wonderful personality, the Cardinals are trying to sell themselves to the masses via this gluttonous seven-pound hamburger. Also, that is the best lede in a newspaper story I've read in 2018.
7. Cole Beasley says the Cowboys are going to shock people at wide receiver.
8. Interesting piece from Pro Football Focus on the value of studying quarterbacks from a clean pocket.
9. Nothing to see here, just Jalen Ramsey continuing to make crazy plays in Jaguars practice.
10. Eric Weddle sees an end to those fancy RPOs.
This is not a political newsletter, but it is a newsletter powered by hardworking journalists working overtime to provide readers with the truth on their favorite teams and players. None, that I know of, are enemies of the state.
For the foreseeable future, instead of a pithy joke or Grateful Dead song, I’m going to use this ending space to thank a few random journalists for all that they have been doing on a daily basis. If you’re a consumer of news at the local or national level, I encourage you to reach out to a reporter who helped inform you today and send them a note. It will mean more to them than you’ll ever know.
So for Wednesday, thank you, Maya Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch for a tireless breakdown of voters in Tuesday's 12th Congressional District election. On-the-ground reporting is dogged work, especially during a politically-charged election.
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