The Texans appeared on "Hard Knocks" last year when the Atlanta Falcons, the featured team last season, visited Houston for a week of practice that wrapped up with a preseason game. During that episode, the cameras captured J.J. Watt ravaging Atlanta's rookie offensive tackle Jake Mathews during practice. They also highlighted entanglements between D.J. Swearinger and Falcons' receivers Roddy White and Harry Douglas that carried over from practices to the game.
I was in attendance for one of the practices that week, and I was thoroughly impressed with how the cameras captured so much of the action without getting in the way of the players and coaches. "Hard Knocks" is a high-quality program that provides behind the scenes drama and details that fans otherwise wouldn't have access to observe. I would love to see the Texans featured on the show this year, and after rumors a few months back that it might happen, the Texans are allegedly one of three finalists for the honors in 2015.
Owner Bob McNair said at the NFL meetings in March he was considering a Texans appearance on the 10th "Hard Knocks," but at the time, there was speculation that Cleveland was the favorite.
A person familiar with the situation said the Texans are one of three finalists, and an announcement could be made next week.
The Texans made an appearance on Hard Knocks last year when they hosted the Falcons for two days of practice before their preseason game at NRG Stadium.
Based on league rules, the Texans are one of nine teams that qualify this year.
Teams can’t be made to appear on the series if they’ve made the playoffs within the last two seasons, have a new head coach or already have appeared on the series.
The Texans, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New York Giants, Minnesota, St. Louis, Washington and Tampa Bay are candidates this year.
Here are a few narratives the show could focus on if Houston is selected:
J.J. Watt is a huge national draw and positive image for the NFL as a whole. Clearly, he would be showcased.
Arian Foster already has quite a resume for television and film appearances, including CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" and the movie "Draft Day." His quirky and poetic views could make for some good humor.
Brian Cushing's two back-to-back season-ending injuries to the same knee, and his efforts at returning to greatness, might be a worthy focus due to the harsh realities of the NFL on even some of the best players.
Quarterback battles always get the attention of viewers who are curious about which player will lead the offense. The fact that Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer are former backups to Tom Brady helps expand the interest to a broader market.
Jadeveon Clowney's return from a season-ending injury would be a hot topic. There is sure to be strong interest to see how he is doing after being hyped so heavily on the national stage before and after becoming the first overall pick for the 2014 NFL Draft.
The departure of Andre Johnson to the division rival Colts would surely bring some interest, and it opens up the debate about which receivers will step up to fill the void.
The stories surrounding incoming rookies always provides drama in the series, with those emotional moments in finding out if they will make the team or be sent elsewhere to try and secure one of only 53 roster spots on 32 teams in the league. One could argue that some of the rookies from 2014, like second-year defensive tackle Louis Nix III, may also be in the same boat this year in battling to earn a spot.
There's also the story of offensive tackle David Quessenberry recovering from lymphoma and possibly returning to action.
Familiar veterans new to the Texans also help draw interest from fans of their former teams and divisional opponents. This includes: Vince Wilfork (Patriots), Rahim Moore (Broncos), Brian Hoyer (Browns/Patriots), Cecil Shorts III (Jaguars), Nate Washington (Titans/Steelers), Stevie Brown (Giants), and Chris Polk (Eagles).
The Patriots just won the Super Bowl, and the strong correlation between the Houston Texans and New England includes several coaches and players: Bill O'Brien (head coach), Romeo Crennel (defensive coordinator), George Godsey (offensive coordinator), Mike Vrabel (linebackers coach), Ryan Mallett (QB), Brian Hoyer (QB), and Vince Wilfork (DT/NT).
The Texans are clearly adopting a similar strategy and philosophy as the Patriots in terms of how to build and manage an NFL team. This includes strong similarities to the Patriots' offensive and defensive schemes that will hopefully help Houston become a top contender for a championship. The parallels to the current champions makes for an easy and attractive narrative to spin while showcasing a Houston team in its second year of an aggressive turnaround under new leadership.
As with previous episodes, we would likely get to see the head coach and general manager making tough decisions and see how they handle sensitive discussions with other coaches and players. It would be gold to hear more of O'Brien in action, and to see Rick Smith in his office breaking the tough news to a player about being traded or released.
So what's your take? Would you be excited to see your Houston Texans as the feature team on this year's "Hard Knocks"?
UPDATE II: And then there was one?