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  • The documentary series could provide a boost for these franchises.
By Conor Orr
May 14, 2019

The next phase of the NFL’s anticipatory calendar is to see which team the league and various shadowy producers strong-arm into doing their wonderfully invasive Hard Knocks documentary series.

Colleague Charlotte Wilder did an excellent primer back in February based on which of the qualifying teams should be on the show given their watchability. Here’s a slightly different take: A ranking of which qualifying teams should consider volunteering based on their current situations.

As I’ve written in the past, Hard Knocks is a chance to set the narrative. It can make an uninteresting team interesting. It can provide context for a befuddling draft pick or depth for a personality-devoid head coach. It’s as much a tool for desperate clubs as it is a pain for privacy-obsessed teams hoping to avoid the flood of cameras and microphones. Now that we have a clearer picture of rosters post-draft and free agency, here’s who should consider raising their hands….

1. New York Giants
Here’s my pitch to the Giants: You have a veteran PR staff who can handle the it. Dave Gettleman’s Listen, sonny, I know what I’m doing act plays a little better when you get a full picture of him. It’s an opportunity to move Saquon Barkley into the front of your franchise’s pecking order, easing the Eli Manning to Daniel Jones transition, and an opportunity for Pat Shurmur to introduce himself to the fan base on a more intimate level.

2. Oakland Raiders
After gutting the roster, locking out the scouts during the draft and making a puzzling (to the mock draft masses) pick at No. 4, the Raiders could use an extended window of time to explain themselves. A cavalier Jon Gruden, a mercurial Antonio Brown, a defensive Derek Carr. There are lingering subplots here as the team attempts to move on and tantalize a new market in Las Vegas. One good summer could tie up a bunch of loose ends.

3. Washington
This makes sense so it won’t happen. Spending a summer pumping up Dwayne Haskins and at least pretending that the front office and coaching staff are on the same page would do wonders for organizational perception, given the rumors that swirled around draft time.

4. Detroit Lions
Matt Patricia probably doesn’t care what the public thinks of him. The Lions probably also don’t care what the public thinks of Matt Patricia, at least right now. Another losing season will change that, further pressing him toward the bin of discarded Belichick associates who could not find success outside New England. Hard Knocks could be a way to nip those perceptions in the bud, and to emphasizes the differences between Belichick and Patricia that the Lions coach has brought up over time.

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