Opener: I’m watching last year’s Hard Knocks (HBO) this year because I don’t have/want/need HBO, and not getting it just for Hard Knocks. So, I watch it for free and review it for fun the following year and have done so for years. We’re watching/reviewing Hard Knocks Cleveland this week…which should be a ‘trip’, now knowing what really transpired in the 2018 regular season.
Enjoy this review daily (five episodes over 5 days), and I’m doing it in my favorite format for such things (a rip-off of what someone else created) – the ‘Best and Worst’ format. Next week, we’ll be doing a subscription show on a platform I do subscribe to – Amazon prime’s ‘All or Nothing’ Carolina Panthers. Same deal for that starting next week.
The Best and Worst of Episode #5 Hard Knocks 2018 Cleveland Browns
In the previous episode, the Browns’ 2019 season was saved by the reappearance of magical Josh Gordon!! *Checks notes* I’m sorry…no it wasn’t. They would trade him about four weeks later for virtually nothing. But they were super-excited Gordon was back to save them at this stage.
Without Gordon, I guess they have to go back to just screaming at the players about how lazy and undisciplined they are. That should work…it’s been so great for all of Hue’s tenure so far.
WORST: Cut down day for the 53-man roster…
Not a lot of drama here because it’s a year later and I know who got cut, but the TV show aspect of this is showing a dramatic build towards it…which is understandable. Nothing worse than hearing the announcers in the 4th preseason game saying (minimum a hundred times), “Careers are on the line in this one!”
Are they really?
What could a player do, aside from injury, to change the 53-man roster list in game #4 of the preseason? All these 3rd and 4th and 5th string players looking all out of sorts from the uncoordinated blocking schemes (due to the rotations and talent) to wrong route running because they barely get to play in the preseason – how is a lower player supposed to shine among the rubble…in just one game, when the team has been in training camp for weeks and months? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy on these guys…not an ‘opportunity’.
I love when a player is ‘fighting for a job’ in the 4th preseason game and they get a sack, or nice tackle, or have a nice run with the ball…and then the announcers explode – he may have just made the team on that!!! They highlighted three ‘bubble’ guys in this final preseason game, and they all made big plays in the 4th preseason game, and the announcers all proclaimed, ‘they may have made the team with that moment’!
…and then, later, we see all three guys getting cut.
Let’s talk about a couple of the cut players because they are really all this episode was about…
BEST: Carl Nassib cut…why?
The former 3rd-round pick never got a true chance with Hue Jackson because he was a ‘Moneyball guy’ from the previous GM. At least the Browns could have traded him for something, anything. Nope…they’re too smart for that.
Nassib gets cut and immediately claimed by Tampa Bay. It takes a few weeks for Nassib to get integrated and then forcing his way to the starting lineup.
In his 10 games as a starter for TB last season, if you take his output and extrapolate it into a 16-game season Nassib would’ve have tallied:
40 tackles, 10.4 sacks, 16 TFLs, 20.8 QB hits, 3 forced fumbles.
Super-smart cut by the Browns!!! Good luck with Gregg Williams as your defensive coordinator, Jets fans!!!
WORST: Devin Cajuste…heartless tease…
Cajuste is so loveable. Just a sweet spirit. I even looked past him rubbing crystals/stones on camera for good vibes several times…I didn’t write about it/make fun of it because I like Cajuste (and, ‘who cares?’).
In preseason Week 4, with Cajuste ‘on the bubble’, he comes out firing…catches the first two passes of the game for nice/big gains. Cajuste’s dad, who is shown in his living room in California, rubbing crystals watching the game, hoping and praying for his son.
Soon after, Cajuste has to leave the game early because he sprained both his ankles on the same play. He tapes himself up and goes back out to fight.
He ultimately gets cut.
He Facetimes his dad after and doesn’t immediately share that he’s been cut right away. Which leads the dad to thinking Cajuste made the team and the dad about loses it with joy. Cajuste just lets him go on celebrating…and finally interrupts him to tell him he’s been cut. The dad thinks he’s now joking, and then is devastated.
All those good vibes you built with me, Devin…you lost them all on that dopey move.
Maybe Todd Haley was right when he told you (mockingly), “Maybe those rocks of yours can help you?”
WORST: Hue’s ‘BIG’ Announcement…
First off, Baker Mayfield was starting this Week 4 preseason game…with a nothing O-Line. Way to protect you most valuable asset, Hue! You knew exactly what you were doing, though…(my opinion) hoping/OK with if he’d get hurt to take him off the table, so you and Tyrod could ride of into the sunset/win the Super Bowl together.
That worked out well.
But in this episode, near the end, Hue calls in Drew Stanton and Baker for a BIG announcement. Hue is naming Baker the #2 QB. Drew Stanton looks like ‘duh…why did we have to meet for this?’ and he also looks relieved…another big paycheck for doing nothing.
Baker barely acknowledges it. Hue acts like this is a big gift to Baker, but Baker has had a butt full of Hue already…as we’ll see into the 2018 season :)
…and it’s/the show is over.
What did we learn?
Not much, to be honest. I was already slamming Hue from the year he was hired. DeShone Kizer? Really? That’s all you needed to know…that and losing almost every game he coached in Cleveland. This documentary just confirmed what I already thought going into last year when it aired originally…and me watching it this year.
I was already totally bought into Baker, so nothing new learned there either.
My biggest takeaway is just a reaffirmation – these coaches, these GMs in the NFL, by and large, are cartoon figures not to be worshipped. Aside from Bill Belichick and Sean McVay we have about 30 variations of ineffective, untrained-in-business, limited head coaches and GMs. They can’t see talent any better than fans…and the Hue not starting Baker thing, or even giving him 1st-team reps is egregious.
The team management/coaches run ineffective training camps and practices, and spew mostly nonsense in meetings. And the wheel just keeps on spinning. I still cannot believe the NFL allows these shows to air because it shows how nonsensical and how poorly these teams are run. Except fans eat it up and think they’re watching genius in action.
Our job is to study them and figure out how to be a step ahead of them for fantasy and handicapping purposes. Here’s to doing so again in 2019!
Next up, middle next week – the Amazon ‘All or Nothing’ reviews of the Carolina Panthers’ show.
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