The first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, featuring the Cleveland Browns, debuted Tuesday night and did not disappoint. Let’s recap the major storylines that were on display.
Star of the Hour: Jarvis Landry
The star of the hour was no doubt WR Jarvis Landry, who was acquired from the Miami Dolphins this offseason. After a montage showing Landry working his ass off in camp and making catch-after-catch, another montage showed the rest of the receivers or offensive players with dropped passes and missed blocks.
Landry went in front of the receiver room to give a passionate speech about practicing and competing to get better each and every day, starting with: “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here, but if you’re not hurt -- if your hamstring isn’t falling off your fucking bone, your leg isn’t broke, you should be fucking practicing.”
Adam Gase ain’t giving a speech like that pic.twitter.com/Xv304bYnNN— Brendan Tobin (@Brendan_Tobin) August 8, 2018
Landry’s new home, along with his girlfriend and child, were also featured in a brief segment, as the veteran receiver preached that he plans on being here awhile. That sound you hear are jerseys flying off the shelves.
Quarterbacks and the RV
Even though it was previously mentioned that access to the quarterback’s RV would be off limits, that wasn’t the case, as both QB Baker Mayfield and QB Brogan Roback gave tours of the vehicle at different times — Mayfield as he was getting a lesson in waste disposal, and Roback as he showed off his responsibilities like keeping everything neat-and-tidy, getting the right type of healthy snacks, and where each quarterback’s bed was.
Brogan Roback deserves a spot on the 53 man roster @Browns pic.twitter.com/kYcG34R8RK— Seamus (@shame_is) August 8, 2018
Mayfield was featured heavily for much of the beginning of the episode as he signed his rookie contract (and laughed at how things like skydiving accidents would cancel out money in his contract). His on-field presence was also on display:
Baker Being Baker. #HardKnocks #Sooners #Browns pic.twitter.com/igepaoXStX— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) August 8, 2018
Coaches Disagree on Veteran Off Days
Probably the most eye-opening storyline came during a coaches meeting. After the athletic trainer provided an update on injured players, they left the room and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens expressed concern over players being given a day off when there is a lot of work to be done. Head coach Hue Jackson started explaining that this is how they’re doing things, and then offensive coordinator Todd Haley weighed in:
Not much difference in Todd Haley’s speech & that of Jarvis Landry’s. Trying to change a losing culture #HardKnocks pic.twitter.com/IhQc3mI9pd— SportsGrind (@SportsGrind) August 8, 2018
Jackson responded by saying he knows certain players like RB Duke Johnson have a history of certain injuries, and he doesn’t want to risk losing such a valuable player for an extended period of time. He said he understands his assistants positions on the matter, because he used to think the same thing when he was an assistant coach — but when he became a head coach and saw the gravity of certain players not being available, his mindset changed. (Side note: I understand what he is saying, but both of his coordinators have been head coaches before).
The Hue Jackson Story
When we first learned that the Browns would be featured on Hard Knocks, one of the first things I said was “it’s so obvious that the lake jump has to be featured at the beginning of the episode.” Then in an interview, they hinted that it probably wouldn’t be. However, last night’s episode featured it right at the beginning. It wasn’t necessarily new material, but I still feel the brief touch on the “cleansing” was necessary to help set the stage of this season’s narrative.
What unfolds the rest of the episode is more of the untold story and emotions that head coach Hue Jackson was going through these past couple of weeks in Berea, losing both his brother and mother in a two-week span. Remember that head coaches often live at the facility practically, so the cameras were rolling to capture every phone call and emotional support provided by GM John Dorsey, assistants, and players.
Carl Nassib’s Breakout Performance
Who would have thought that DE Carl Nassib would be the biggest riser in terms of notoriety after the first episode? He was first featured in a segment in which he gave financial advice to his defensive linemen, talking about how compound interest can ridiculously benefit all of them, especially someone like DE Myles Garrett:
All personal finance courses should be taught like this one, from NFL defensive lineman Carl Nasib #HardKnocks pic.twitter.com/qpHgSQCeZe— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) August 8, 2018
A little later, head coach Hue Jackson called Nassib out in front of the room, asking him what was up when a picture of he and Taylor Swift was shown on the projector (Swift performed at FirstEnergy Stadium recently).
Then to close out the episode, Nassib gave another lesson on how much time is spent on social media. He used Instagram as an example, but let’s broaden it to social media: imagine you spend two hours a day on it. When you do the math, that means you spend exactly one full month a year on social media. So 1/12th of your year is literally on social media.
Best “Hard Knocks” scene of the night via breakout star, Carl Nassib. pic.twitter.com/AChnzH4D7d— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) August 8, 2018
Prepping for How to Handle Josh Gordon
One of the things I love seeing is the inner workings of things, like when assistants first learn that WR Josh Gordon won’t be available at the start of training camp. Later on, VP of Marketing Peter John-Baptiste met with GM John Dorsey and head coach Hue Jackson to discuss strategy of how to handle speaking about the Gordon situation to the press.
Later in the episode, Jackson tells Dorsey that Gordon texted him his condolences about the losses in his family, and how he appreciates how much he has been there for him. The headline-stealer, though? “See you soon.”
Was noteworthy that #Browns Hue Jackson said he received a text from Josh Gordon saying "See you soon" on first episode of Hard Knocks— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham) August 8, 2018
Gregg Williams being Gregg Williams
There isn’t a better way to end an episode, is there?
I’m going to make this my text tone #HardKnocks pic.twitter.com/m9iHw96o5j— Brad Russell (@Brad1590) August 8, 2018
Earlier in the episode, when speaking in a defensive meeting to players, Gregg Williams also said he hopes he doesn’t have to be as big of an asshole this year:
Gregg Williams "I turned down seven other jobs to be here. I was an asshole here last year. I don't want to be that this year." #Browns #HardKnocks— Scott Dryden (@BrownsScout) August 8, 2018
I was wondering if the trading of WR Corey Coleman would be shown this week, but instead, it appeared in the trailer for next week’s episode. The news about WR Antonio Callaway, as well as outcomes from the Browns vs. Giants first preseason game, will also no doubt be on display.
What did you think of the first episode, Browns fans?