The 2015 season marks the 10th season that Four-Time Emmy Award winning Sports and Politics documentary franchise, VICE Sports, has covered the NFL. In preparation for the upcoming season, we sat down with every NFL team from the 2015 season, and asked them the same question: “How did your 2015 season compare to the way the season ended on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’?”
The best part of the HBO series is teams are now looking to capitalize on this fame from the show. It has resulted in a number of the NFL franchises making significant changes to their uniforms. Some of the changes include the Eagles changing their “Eagles Fight” logo to “Eagles Flight” (a nod to John F. Kennedy), the Cowboys changing their shade of green, and the Redskins changing their helmet logo.
The final episode of Hard Knocks airs this Sunday night, and the entire NFL will have to wait to see how they are portrayed by HBO. However, the first episode of the show that aired a few months back captured all 64 NFL franchises and the drama that ensued. No team was safe from the cameras, although the Baltimore Ravens were arguably the most ridiculed.. Read more about nfl football teams list and let us know what you think.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since HBO cameras first followed a bunch of NFL players and coaches around training camp for Hard Knocks, the most recent installment of which follows the Dallas Cowboys as they prepare for the 2021 NFL season. Jerry Jones must be praying that this season goes better than the previous two seasons in which the Cowboys were featured on the show, as both times the team failed to make the playoffs.
Only six of the 16 teams featured on Hard Knocks since its debut (the show didn’t air for a few years and didn’t feature a team in 2011) have advanced to the playoffs. Only three of the six teams won a playoff game, and only one of those three advanced to the conference championship game, implying that no club featured on the show has ever made it to the Super Bowl.
Here’s how each squad that has appeared on Hard Knocks over the years fared during the season in which they were on the show.
Baltimore Ravens, 2001 (10-6, lost in divisional round)
The reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were the first feature (or is that victim?) of HBO’s new Hard Knocks series on this day in 2001. Since then, 12 of the 32 teams, including this year’s subject, the Oakland Raiders, have been followed through training camp. pic.twitter.com/sjEICy4z5F
1 August 2019 — Gridiron (@Gridiron)
The Baltimore Ravens were the centerpiece of the inaugural season of Hard Knocks, which is still the only season to include a defending Super Bowl champion. The season-ending knee injury to second-year running back Jamal Lewis, the final seasons in Baltimore for future Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson, and the quarterback duel between Elvis Grbac and Randall Cunningham were just a few of the major storylines from the program. The Ravens completed 10-6 that season, earning the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, but were ousted in the divisional round by the top-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dallas Cowboys, 2002 (5-11, missed playoffs)
The Dallas Cowboys were the focus of Hard Knocks in 2002, which was Emmitt Smith’s final season with the team. Quarterback Quincy Carter was also prominently featured on the show, as was head coach Dave Campo, who was fired after Dallas concluded the season with a 5-11 record and missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Kansas City Chiefs, 2007 (4-12, missed playoffs)
Hard Knocks returned in 2007 after a four-year sabbatical, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs. The show focused on Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle’s quarterback rivalry, star running back Larry Johnson’s contract holdout, and Priest Holmes’ attempt to return to the NFL after missing the entire 2006 season due to a neck injury. The Chiefs concluded the season with a 4-12 record, missing out on the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys, 2008 (9-7, missed playoffs)
The Dallas Cowboys were featured in Hard Knocks for the second time in 2008, with a focus on Adam “Pacman” Jones’ reinstatement. Rookies Felix Jones and Martellus Bennett, as well as undrafted wideout Danny Amendola, who was ultimately cut by the Cowboys and spent the season on the practice squad, all saw significant playing time. Of course, Amendola went on to win two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots alongside Tom Brady. Dallas finished 9-7 that season, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Cincinnati Bengals, 2009 (10-6, lost in wild-card round)
The Cincinnati Bengals were featured in the 2009 edition of Hard Knocks, who were coming off a 4-11-1 season and hadn’t made the playoffs since 2005. The show followed quarterback Carson Palmer’s return from an injury-plagued 2008 season, and there were plenty of Chad Johnson moments sprinkled throughout camp. The Bengals were the show’s second team to make the playoffs, finishing 10-6 to win the AFC North before falling to the New York Jets in the wild-card round.
New York Jets, 2010 (11-5, lost AFC Championship Game)
And while we’re on the subject of the New York Jets, they were featured in the 2010 season of Hard Knocks. There were plenty of themes to cover with the J-E-T-S, and HBO concentrated on the progress of second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, CB Darrelle Revis’ contract holdout, and Rex Ryan’s always-entertaining coaching style. The Jets concluded the season 11-5, snagged the sixth seed in the AFC, and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. They’re still the only squad highlighted on the show to make it to the conference championship game.
Miami Dolphins, 2012 (7-9, missed playoffs)
Due of the uncertainty of the labor situation in 2011, no club committed in 2011. The Miami Dolphins were the next team to feature on Hard Knocks in 2012. The show covered rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract negotiations and the subsequent quarterback rivalry between him, Matt Moore, and David Garrard, which Tannehill eventually won. The Dolphins finished 7-9 that season, missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
Cincinnati Bengals, 2013 (11-5, lost in wild-card round)
The Cincinnati Bengals became the second team to be featured on Hard Knocks twice, and they made the playoffs once again in 2013. The Bengals won the AFC North once more, this time with an 11-5 record, their best since 2005, but fell to the San Diego Chargers in the wild-card round.
Atlanta Falcons, 2014 (6-10, missed playoffs)
For the 2014 season, Hard Knocks focused on the Atlanta Falcons, with the main focus being on how the squad sought to rebound after a poor season. Following a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 2012, the Falcons finished the season with a 4-12 record in 2013. Atlanta didn’t fare much better in 2014, going 6-10 and missing the playoffs.
Houston Texans, 2015 (9-7, lost in wild-card round)
Going into the 2015 season of Hard Knocks, the Houston Texans had a lot of tales to cover. There was Jadaveon Clowney, who had only played four games as a rookie due to a knee injury. Between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, there was a quarterback competition. J.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was seen attempting to improve. Overall, the Texans did not improve from the previous season, finishing with the same 9-7 record as in 2014. However, being the only team in the AFC South with a winning record in 2015, that mark was good enough to qualify them into the playoffs. However, the Kansas City Chiefs blanked them 30-0 in the wild-card round.
Los Angeles Rams, 2016 (4-12, missed playoffs)
Moderator Molly McGrath, Senior Coordinating Producer at NFL Films Patrick Kelleher, General Manager of the Los Angeles Rams Les Snead, and HBO Sports Executive VP Peter Nelson speak onstage during a Q&A following the LA premiere of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Los Angeles Rams” in August 2016 | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO
The Los Angeles Rams were featured in the 2016 season of Hard Knocks, with the main focus being on the team’s return to Los Angeles after 21 seasons in St. Louis. Head coach Jeff Fisher gave Nick Foles his release over the phone, which drew a lot of attention to the quarterback issue. When it became evident that No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff would be named Case Keenum’s backup, Foles made the request. For the 12th consecutive season, the Rams finished 4-12 and missed the playoffs.
Buccaneers of Tampa Bay, 2017 (5-11, missed playoffs)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were featured on Hard Knocks in 2017 and weren’t quite as interesting as they become a few years later. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2016, the Bucs regressed in 2017 and ended 5-11, missing the playoffs for the tenth year in a row.
Cleveland Browns, 2018 (7-8-1, missed playoffs)
The Cleveland Browns were featured prominently in the 2018 season of Hard Knocks, with a lot of attention paid to No. 1 overall selection pick Baker Mayfield as he tried to adjust to life in the NFL. Josh Gordon, who only played one game for Cleveland that season before being dealt to the New England Patriots, was another significant story. The Browns had gone from 0-16 the year before to 7-8-1 the following season, but they still missed the playoffs for the 16th year in a row.
Oakland Raiders (2019) (7-9, missed playoffs)
The Oakland Raiders’ final season in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas was the focus of the 2019 season of Hard Knocks. Jon Gruden was entertaining as always, and while the Raiders improved three games over the previous season, they still finished with a 7-9 record, missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season and the 16th time in 17 years.
Los Angeles Chargers (7-9, no playoffs), Los Angeles Rams (7-9, no playoffs) in 2020 (10-6, lost in divisional round)
The Rams and Chargers were the focus of the 2020 episode of Hard Knocks, which was the first to feature two teams as they prepared for their first seasons at SoFi Stadium. As the league battled with COVID-19, viewers got a glimpse into what training camps were like this season. The Rams finished 10-6 to win the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers knocked them out in the divisional round, while the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
The Dallas Cowboys were one of just five NFL teams eligible for ‘Hard Knocks,’ and they were chosen simply because they were more interesting than the others.
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