Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is not a big fan of “Hard Knocks.” No coach is really. The 24/7 training camp access for NFL Films and HBO camera crews tend to be very invasive and they always prove to be a distraction to the players on some level or another.
The show is one that is best suited for a team made up largely of mature veterans and that’s not the Buccaneers, but the Bucs brass seems to believe their team is indeed mature enough to handle such an invasion.
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said as much to the Tampa Bay Times during the NFL Owner’s Meetings in Phoenix this week and Koetter backed that belief while chatting with reporters at the meetings on Wednesday.
“I have no fear of our guys being able to handle the distraction,” said Koetter, who also pointed out just how beneficial the show can be in terms of bringing notoriety to his team.
Koetter would know. During his second season as the offensive coordinator for then-Falcons head coach Mike Smith in Atlanta, “Hard Knocks” focused on the Falcons preparation for the coming season.
So Koetter and Smith, who is now the Bucs defensive coordinator, have both experienced the invasion of the camera crews. So too has backup quarterback candidate Sean Renfree, who was also with Atlanta then.
It should be noted, though, that the 2014 season proved to be the last for Koetter and Smith in Atlanta. Both were let go following a 6-10 season that is not atypical for clubs featured on “Hard Knocks.”
During the 11 seasons the show has been aired, five of the 10 different subject teams went on to post a record well below .500 including the 2016 Rams, who fired Jeff Fisher in the season. Meanwhile, five others reached the playoffs after being featured.
Given those numbers, it’s hard to say really what kind of an impact the cameras and all the distractions had on the teams. Some were obviously capable of handling it, while others simply were not.
The Eagles and the Colts both told the media in Arizona that they will not be the HBO choice for 2017. So, the intrigue thickens for Buccaneers fans.
There is no disputing: if the Bucs want to feature the likes of Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Gerald McCoy and LaVonte David, it’s an exclusive five week info-merical for the team to the NFL fan base.
On which side of that ledger will the Bucs fall? It’s hard to know. The Bucs are one of the teams eligible for the show, though, so we may get a chance to find out soon.