The Broncos are a gamble worth taking for this year’s Hard Knocks because the possibility of an Aaron Rodgers trade on the eve of training camp.
There is no doubt in my mind a blockbuster deal would make for the most memorable season in the series’ history. Perhaps that’s why HBO is taking it’s sweet time to announce the pick. We found out about last year’s season with the Rams and Chargers on June 18th, and the Raiders season on June 12th.
The choices boil down to a decision between the Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants, and the Carolina Panthers. Feel free to disagree, but it looks the obvious choices are either Denver or Dallas.
Maybe HBO is hoping to catch wind of a possible deal before denying Jerry World yet another chance at the limelight, as the Cowboys have already been featured twice. There’s no question the Dallas Cowboys’ are a ratings monster, which is why the national media spends an inordinate amount of time reporting every fart and argument to come out of Texas.
Here’s the thing though: ravenous football fans who don’t have a rooting interest in Dak Prescott’s recovery will get their fill of the Cowboys this season. Dallas is already booked for five primetime games this year, and outlets like Fox Sports and ESPN will surely cover every single dramatic angle surrounding the team until the end of 2021, regardless of their record.
The Broncos provide a breath of fresh air mixed with a litany of intrigue, even if George Paton fails to land last year’s MVP.
Who will be QB1?
Quarterback competitions are good for television. If the Broncos don’t trade for Aaron Rodgers it looks like Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater could drag out for the entire preseason. Vic Fangio has already said he plans to split reps evenly and the pair will play a ton in the preseason.
From HBO’s perspective, this means there’s low hanging fruit to pick at every single episode. Which QB is winning over teammates? How is the offense building around the players? Who threw a pick in practice the previous day?
Since he left Missouri, Drew Lock has been the kind of affable personality fans fall over themselves to root for. But HBO’s cameras will give a look beyond the veil that is tightly controlled press conferences to show the world how he holds up on a day to day basis. If time with Peyton Manning and a second season in the same system doesn’t help him create an edge for the starting job, how does he react?
Can Fangio fend off the wolves?
As I write this Fangio and the Cowboy’s Mike McCarthy have equal odds at being the first coach fired in 2021. While that shouldn’t be welcome news to Broncos’ Country, it makes for an intriguing storyline. How is the first time head coach handling the pressure behind the scenes? Are players or the coaching staff beginning to tune him out? Can he build the kind of defense necessary to keep his job?
Which brings me to the rest of the roster.
The Broncos’ offense is going to be fascinating.
Melvin Gordon may be the starting back, but how Pat Shurmur splits the load between his veteran and rookie Javonte “Pookie” Williams will surely generate some interest among fantasy football fans. Will Mike Boone steal touches?
Courtland Sutton’s return from injury will have Broncos’ fans on their edge of their seat, but the receiver room looks set to have a couple of battles as guys try to work out their spot on the depth chart. That makes for good TV, and people can debate K.J. Hamler or Tim Patrick as they fight for WR3, while guys like Tyrie Cleveland and Diontae Spencer try to fend off players brought in by the new general manager. Don’t forget Kendall Hinton, who’s gloves are in Canton after he played quarterback against the New Orleans Saints with next to no time to prepare. You can’t tell me HBO wouldn’t have a field day picking his brain on the experience, and he’d easily bec
Garett Bolles is the kind of self-made man that’s made for Hard Knocks. After fighting off the “bust” label early in his career he earned an All Pro nod in 2020. He headlines an offensive line that features a man who fights trees and what looks like a burgeoning right tackle competition. Dalton Risner could easily become a national figure with the extra attention HBO provides.
Broncos OL Dalton Risner and Ron Leary are breaking out the overalls tonight @Dalton_Risner66 @BigLeary65— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 17, 2019
(via @MikeKlis) pic.twitter.com/yyls0xrjYD
The defense is littered with storylines, starting with Von Miller. A living legend’s return from injury and fight with father time is going to be closely monitored by fans. It could also make a huge difference in the national landscape as he’s been the tide that lifts all boats on the Bronco’s defense for his entire career. Can it continue?
Among the rest of the front seven you have Alexander Johnson, who didn’t hesitate to call Covid-19 a “plandemic” as well as the outspoken Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell, stalwarts along the line who have called out fans for booing a 5-11 team.
Hell nah!! I’m not with the COVID-19 excuses... Plan Pandemic!! https://t.co/DkAY476Zuy— Alexander J Johnson (@Alexander_CB45) April 13, 2021
Justin Simmons is the kind of A+ character that casual football fans will fall over themselves to root for. He’s also the best safety in football. Kareem Jackson doesn’t shy away from the truth and he’s got to know he’s entering his last year in Denver with two rookies set to steal his job. Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan face what could be a similar situation with Patrick Surtain II. Speaking of, the fact that George Paton took a cornerback over Justin Fields could easily become a storyline on the show if an Aaron Rodgers trade doesn’t happen.
If HBO wants to play it safe, they’ll go with the Dallas Cowboys for their upcoming season of Hard Knocks. If they want to take a chance on a B-tier season turning into the best in the series’ history?
They’ll go with the Denver Broncos.