Hard Knocks, the HBO series that strikes a balance between being a sports show that also happens to be reality television programming, is returning for another season and could feature the Bears.
Because the Bears don’t have a new coach, haven’t made the playoffs in the last two years and have not previously been on the show within the last 10 years, they are one of eight teams the NFL can force into participation in this year’s season. The Bears are joined by the Buccaneers, Browns, Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Saints and Titans as teams who fall under this provision.
Depending on your perspective, the Bears are an ideal team for the show or one you would avoid watching at all costs.
Head coach John Fox doesn’t seem like the type to open his doors to cameras, but GM Ryan Pace speaks eloquently and optimistically about the Bears future and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is usually there with an honest quip during press conferences. On the field, the search for a franchise quarterback is worthy of a reality show on its own merits. And because of the fan base, Hard Knocks could be attracted to the idea of showcasing a charter franchise.
On the other hand, there are other teams that could see strong consideration from HBO. The Buccaneers missed the playoffs by a game. The uncertain future for GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano make the Colts potential must-see-TV based on drama alone. The Titans and Eagles both have young quarterbacks and are potentially teams on the rise. Both the Ravens and Saints are teams with established coaches and quarterbacks looking to get a final squeeze of success out of their current situations.
In March 2016, George McCaskey said the team wasn’t interested in being on Hard Knocks. But maybe things have changed since last year? Onward.
- The NFL announced its finalists for Rookie of the Year and Bears running back Jordan Howard was a notable snub. Howard finished second in rushing yards and fourth in yards per carry – and those are impressive numbers considering he had the fewest carries among running backs who ranked in the top-5 in rushing yards. The Bears’ 3-13 record probably didn’t help matters, but Howard earned positive recognition despite the team’s shortcomings. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, teammate Dak Prescott, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and Falcons linebacker Deion Jones are the five listed finalists.
- Guard Josh Sitton was an honorable mention on Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team. Sitton, ranked as PFF’s No. 8 guard, was a free-agent acquisition who came to the Bears late in the preseason put together a strong season in helping solidify the interior of the Bears’ offensive line with rookie center Cody Whitehair and fellow guard Kyle Long.
- Outside linebackers coach Clintt Hurt became the latest assistant coach to leave Halas Hall, leaving to seek opportunities outside the organization according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Hurtt served under Marc Trestman as a defensive line coach before John Fox retained him on his staff to work with outside linebackers. The Bears will also look to fill vacancies at running backs coach, offensive line coach and assistant secondary coach. As Biggs points out, two of the Bears’ most promising positions (running back, outside linebackers) will be led by new coaches.
- Rich Campbell notes that 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd spent most of his time working with Hurtt as a rookie. Floyd has some work to do in the offseason to expand his game after a productive first season. Among them, learning and applying better technique to potentially lower his chances of sustaining a concussion and other head/neck-related injuries.
- In other coaching news, former Bears special teams coach who currently has that job with the Kansas City Chiefs Dave Toub interviewed with John Elway on Friday for the Denver Broncos’ head coaching job. Gary Kubiak, who took that job after John Fox was fired, retired after two seasons with the team. Chiefs coach Andy Reid recently said Toub is ready for a head coaching job of his own.
- It will likely be worth a deeper dive as we get closer to draft day, but Pro Football Weekly provided a cursory look at No. 3 overall picks from NFL Drafts since 2007. The list is littered with hits (Matt Ryan, 2008) and misses (Trent Richardson, 2012).
- On the transaction wire, the Bears announced the signing of defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore to a reserve/futures contract. The Notre Dame product was a sixth-round pick by the Ravens in 2013.