After a period where the Jacksonville Jaguars were considered offseason favorites for something for the first time since 2018, the Jaguars will watch along with the rest of the country and 30 other teams as the Dallas Cowboys take center stage on HBO's annual 'Hard Knock' series.
And for 2021, that is not only an outcome the Jaguars can live with -- it is an outcome that should be considered desirable.
For a Jaguars team that has too often been an afterthought on the national scale, Hard Knocks would have given the Jaguars a level of exposure the team hasn't received since their 2017 playoff run.
And even then, the Jaguars were a team that was considered a contender despite their quarterback, which is hardly emphatic praise from the big-picture perspective.
In terms of the amount of coverage the Jaguars have gotten on a national scale in the last decade, the team ranks near the bottom of the league, if not at the very bottom. Their complete devoid of non-Thursday Night Football primetime games proves that.
But Hard Knocks would have been different. Hard Knocks would have been several weeks of the football world arduously finding their ways to their screens, tuning in and investing themselves into the Jaguars' players, storylines and ultimately their success or lack thereof in 2021.
And even with that in mind, the Jaguars are better off without the cameras on them in August as they prepare for a pivotal season for the franchise's future. Even with the Jaguars being the NFL team who could most benefit from the Hard Knocks saga tracking their (nearly) every move during training camp and the preseason, the Jaguars will likely benefit from America's Team being chosen for this year's season of Hard Knock.
Simply put, the Jaguars have had a sea of change washing over them this offseason. And with that change has come an even larger sea of headlines. Some of them positive, some not so much.
The Jaguars are in perhaps the greatest era of transition in franchise history. It isn't often a team brings in a new general manager, head coach and starting quarterback in the same year. It is even more rare for that head coach to be a first-time NFL coach or for that quarterback to be the No. 1 overall pick and the most hyped quarterback prospect in nearly a decade.
And during that transition, there have been some bumps already. Urban Meyer has a reputation as a winner and a leader on the field and in the locker room, but he also has a reputation as a headline-grabber. Just the mention of Meyer and his practices or a simple soundbite from the former Florida Gators and Ohio State head coach creates a storm of reactions on a national scale.
Meyer's brashness and inexperience at the NFL level has already brought some negative press to the Jaguars, whether from the fallout of the Chris Doyle hiring or the NFL fining Meyer and the team Jaguars and stripping them of two 2022 voluntary offseason practices due to violating organized team activity rules.
For a Jaguars team that still has Meyer learning on the job while every word and action garners mass attention, it is better for the Jaguars to bunker down and focus on the 2021 season. This isn't to say the Jaguars should never do Hard Knocks under Meyer, but instead that during his first-ever NFL training camp, it may be better for all parties for the cameras to be elsewhere -- even if Meyer seemed open to appearing on the show earlier this summer.
“I think most coaches want to go on a submarine and show up on game day ready to rock and roll without distraction,” Meyer said on the Rich Eisen Show, via The Spun.
"But I also understand and respect the NFL. What it stands for, the network. I do believe this is an interesting story here. One of the reasons I wouldn’t mind the world knowing is that we have some really good players and some really good people here. It’s a great city, we have a great owner.”
And Meyer is right to that point. The Jaguars have a roster full of personalities, talented players and amazing backgrounds and life stories. Giving those players a chance to have their stories heard as well as a chance to get more exposure for their own brands would be a major positive.
But if the 2021 season goes the way the Jaguars hope, they will get more chances at the Hard Knocks apple. Meyer, Trevor Lawrence, and the continuing rebuild of the Jaguars will garner attention for years to come as long as the team doesn't fail spectacularly in 2021.
There is little reason for the Jaguars, with all of their transitions and lack of experience at certain spots, should broadcast the first training camp of the Meyer era. After all, there is always next year.
The Jaguars very well coud be favorites for Hard Knocks again in 2022. And next year, it would probably be a best-case scenario for them to appear on the show then. But for 2021, the Jaguars and Meyer are better off watching the Cowboys along with the rest of us.