'Hard Knocks' effect: Will Jets be distracted?

Posted June 01, 2010 @ 5:55 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

I was scanning through the latest edition of Pro Football Weekly, as I do every time after it comes out, and I happened upon an interesting quote in our "Audibles" section. If you are not familiar with it, we run anonymous quotes — which often makes them quite juicy — from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel about things happening in the league.

Here's the full quote that caught my attention (my underlining for emphasis):

"We've seen how hard it is to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but I'll tell you, I like what the Saints have been doing. If you asked me today, I would say they are still the team to beat in the NFC. When you look at what they have done with their roster, I think they have gotten better. In the AFC, I really like what the Jets have done. (The New York area) was given the Super Bowl bid. They have a chance to get there. I don't like the distraction that HBO ('Hard Knocks') brings. Have any teams who have let (the cameras) into their camp ever gone on to win? I wouldn't want to deal with it. They have gotten older, too. But there is a lot of talent on that roster now. They have the pieces to push the Patriots aside."

As some of you know, I have gone a bit against the tide on the Jets this offseason. Something just gives me a bad feeling. On the one hand, I love their coach and I love their roster for the most part, but a great collection of talent does not equate to wins. We saw that no more clearly than with the Cowboys in 2008.

And that brings us back to "Hard Knocks." Again, I am completely torn on the Jets in regard to the show this year. Part of me knows it will be epic television. But the other wonders how a team that is starting to mount a very high horse is going to handle another ego boost from the show. This whole thing could spiral out of control very quickly if the Jets and Rex Ryan are not careful.

Remember, that Cowboys team had Tony Romo, much of the core of the current Cowboys defense and loaded talent at the skill positions. On paper, it was the best team in the NFL along with the Patriots heading into that year. We all knew how that ended up. And I am not sure Mark Sanchez is anywhere close to being in Romo's neighborhood yet. Hence my reservations about the Jets.

As for how the show will affect things, perhaps it won't at all. For those who are wondering, here's a historical look at how the "Hard Knocks" teams (and the other iteration of the show, NFL Network's "Inside Training Camp: Jaguars Summer" in 2004) fared the season before and the season after the show ran:

Hard Knocks Team* Previous season record Playoffs? Following season record Playoffs?
 2001 Ravens  12-4 Yes, won Super Bowl (4-0)  10-6 Yes, lost divisional round (1-1)
 2002 Cowboys  5-11 No   5-11 No
 2004 Jaguars*  5-11 No   9-7 No
 2007 Chiefs  9-7 Yes, lost wild-card round (0-1)  4-12 No
 2008 Cowboys  13-3 Yes, lost divisional round (0-1)  9-7 No
 2009 Bengals  4-11-1 No   10-6 Yes, lost wild-card round (0-1)
 Total records
 48-47-1 4-2   47-49 1-2

* includes NFL Network's "Inside Training Camp: Jaguars Summer," a spinoff of "Hard Knocks"

This, of course, proves little about how the Jets will do. But it does show that only two of the six teams that have participated have had better records that season, and let's face it, there was almost nowhere to go but up for the '04 Jaguars (five wins the year before) and the '09 Bengals (four wins).

What do you guys think? Am I making too much of this? Or is there something to this?


Follow Eric Edholm's "Around the NFL" blog, updated frequently.


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