OPINION: ‘Hard Knocks’ shows young Browns team in new light

Jake Adams headshot

Jake Adams

Editor’s note: This review is up to date as of the third episode. 

With the start of the school year and the transition from summer to fall comes another important season: football season.

We get a glimpse into the excitement of football season from the NFL Films-produced show, “Hard Knocks.” This season, Northeast Ohio’s own Cleveland Browns were honored (if that’s the right word) to be followed by the camera crew.

In its first three episodes, the show created buzz beyond just the fans as each episode draws national headlines with the raw and unfiltered essence of the show, giving viewers all the f-bombs and high energy common among all football teams.

There have been many great moments this season from players and coaches. For Browns fans, Todd Haley and Gregg Williams have been great to watch, whether they are interacting with each other or coaching their own players.

Gregg Williams is your standard defensive coach; he speaks in curse words and loses his mind over every little mistake. He goes on a rampage every halftime about how awful the defense is when the team only gives up a touchdown or field goal. His attitude just makes any former defensive player chuckle because anyone who has played football has had a coach like that.

Todd Haley comes fresh off being released by the Steelers, and he brings a similar attitude as Williams. He cites how,  “winning teams don’t touch the (expletive) quarterback,” and Williams calmly answers, “block him.” Just a normal exchange between two guys that run their respective sides of the ball with intensity.

The quarterback position is always a subject of conversation in Cleveland, and this year is no different.

Veterans Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton are new faces to the team, along with rookies Baker Mayfield (first overall pick) and Brogan Roback (undrafted). The group gained headlines when they brought an RV on the facility lot specifically for quarterbacks. Roback was also given the job of restocking snacks and waters, while Mayfield had to front the bill for the vehicle himself.

Coach Hue Jackson constantly states Taylor is the starter, and Mayfield is the backup. In Taylor’s defense, he played well with the first team, but Mayfield also has moments of brillance..

It is clear this is Taylor’s team, and Mayfield will have to wait for the keys to the offense as it should be. Taylor is so much more proven and comfortable with the game.

Other funny, viral moments from camp include Carl Nassib’s financial lecture on compound interest, which makes me wonder who manages his funds, because 10 percent annual returns is a steal.

General manager John Dorsey embraced his look of a large white Browns sweatshirt, cargo shorts and Browns-themed Nike sneakers. 

Offensive line coach Bob Wiley has been a diamond in the rough.

Wiley sports a heavy-set large belly and long, white mustache to match his Maserati sports car. He inspires his linemen by showing the posture of hogs, gorillas and rhinos. He preaches a low center of gravity, bent knees and arm extension. Any former lineman can recall the importance of these traits.

The series also covered the story of David “Juice” Cajuste, a Stanford graduate tight end, who has been cut by two NFL teams over the last two years. He is more than just that though; he was told at the age of 12 that his father only had five more years to live.

His dad broke this timetable by fighting heart problems and made it to his son’s preseason game against the Giants. While he is alive today, he has suffered three heart attacks — the most recent one wasn’t revealed to David until their joint interview on Hard Knocks. He had a pacemaker installed to assist his heart. This is a heartfelt story to follow, as Juice battles on and off the field everyday.

Episode 3 gave Browns fans a glimpse of hope as Dez Bryant had a positive visit to the facility. More importantly, Josh Gordon’s return was alluded to and announced a few days before the episode aired.

Jake Adams is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].