Thursday, 3 a.m.
Dirk Koetter is going to get a migraine.
Jason Licht will break out in a rash.
Joel Glazer will suggest to Bryan that this is the stupidest idea the team has ever had.
And HBO? HBO is gonna love it. HBO execs are going to go to bed at night giggling to themselves. HBO marketers are going to have a field day. HBO fans are going to start off with average interest, but every week, the number is going to grow. Heck, the Tampa Bay Bucs might come out of this with their own series, to be shown somewhere between Game of Thrones (Game of Busted Zones?) and Westworld.
Yeah, Koetter is going to have a fit. He's going to want to have a heart-to-heart with Doug Martin, and he's going to look up, and someone will be pushing a camera lens into his face. He's going to try to manufacture a pass rush, and someone will almost poke his eye with a microphone. And he's going to snap.
You see, the Bucs are largely a this-is-none-of-your-business team. It has been since Bruce Allen
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showed up and denied that Tampa Bay was going to third downs in the coming year. Bruce was never really big on the truth, even when you knew he wasn't speaking it, and the entire franchise has gone downhill from there. There have been coaches who locked three doors before they would discuss who they wanted to play as their backup nickel back.
In other words, there were years when the Bucs would have been one of the dullest shows on cable TV. The Raheem years? The Schiano years? The Lovie years? It would have been like watching a fishing show.
This year, this could be fun.
I say that, of course, knowing that Hard Knocks is rarely any fun. Usually, it's a bad team discussing the moves it will make on its way to a 4-12 season. It's things like highlighting a quarterback battle between Ryan Mallet and Bryan Hoying, two quarterbacks who have spent years proving they couldn't play a lick. It's dull. It's familiar. And unless you're trying to get Antonio Cromartie to name his nine kids, it's fairly predictable.
But the Bucs have personalities, as they say. They have interesting young players and intriguing story lines.
Again, if it was my team, I'd want no part of it. Training camp is too important to put up with the sideshow that comes with the cameras. But if I'm looking at a team, who else would you want? New England? Sure. You'd get to see them open up Bill Belichick's skull and reveal that he's an android. Atlanta? How many times can you watch a team choke away a Super Bowl? Green Bay? Now that you can't get sideline shots of Olivia Munn, what's the use? Dallas? Jerry Jones would want his own dressing room. Get him re-write!
Still, I think this could be high drama. Can't-miss TV, as they say.
What are the top storylines?
1. The history of the team: This is where you've got to start, with the awfulness of the seasons that have come before this one. Remember the Bucs' Super Bowl highlight film? This was the mistake that was made then. You don't tell the story of Cinderella and skip the part where she was scrubbing pots and pans. That's what made her finish so wonderful. So tell it all: Booker Reese and Josh Freeman and Vinny Testeverde and Leeman Bennett and Bo Jackson and Hugh Culverhouse and all of it. Use old NFL films and make great fun of the pirate with a knife through his head.
2. Jameis Winston: You start with a close-up of the great smile and the boundless exuberance. You spice a few sound bites of him praising this player and that one. You revisit his controversies at FSU. You talk about a town that is trying very hard to believe in a quarterback. If you're HBO, this is going to be part of each week's show. The World According to Jameis.
3. The Grimes family. Face it. It isn't going to be long before you hear from Miko Grimes (and maybe Brent, if she'll let him talk/tweet.) Controversy sells. That's one thing that privately has to worry the Bucs; is someone trying to stir up noise. So throw a microphone on Miko. She what she really thinks of Winston, and of Doug Martin, and of DeSean Jackson. Ask her about Vernon Hargreaves and the slow-motion safeties.
4. The kicking duel: HBO has an opportunity of wading right in between incumbent Roberto Aguayo – a Gremlin who came at the cost of Porsche, and Nick Folk. It promises to be a very good competition. Splice in a few interviews with each, and it could be a good segment.
5. The emerging rusher: The cameras are going to love Gerald McCoy, but he's mature enough to control what he says in front of them. Who knows if second-year defensive end Noah Spence will be the same? Given Spence's drug-ridden background, and McCoy's expectation that Spence will reach another level this year, it could be interesting.
6. The new kid in town: The whole city is in love with DeSean Jackson. We can see why as Jameis Winston tries to improve on his long passing game. Jackson can still fly. Maybe with him, the Bucs' offense can, too.
7. The old kid in town: This is still Mike Evans' receiving corps. He's a talker, so Evans is sure to be popular with the cameras. Look for HBO to try to establish a little friction between the two.
8. Trying to re-establish himself: Doug Martin is on thin ice with this team. Everyone knows it. Even if he's back, he'll be suspended for three games. So does the team hang onto him or does it let him go? Remember, he doesn't play special teams, another strike against him. Does Martin make it? Check back after the draft.
9. The No. 1 draft pick: At this point, it's all guesswork. But the Bucs go into the draft with thoughts of maybe a running back, maybe a tight end (among others). That would be an interesting addition to the team's attack.
10. The tackling machine: Kwon Alexander doesn't say a lot, but he speaks well. The national cameras could certainly revisit his game against Atlanta after the death of his brother. There are certainly worse players to mike during a scrimmage or a game.
There are others. If I was one of the producers, I'd spend some time with Ali Marpet, who may be moving to center. I'd spend some time with defensive coordinator Mike Smith, the former head coach of the Falcons. I'd talk to Chris Baker. I'd ask Licht every day if Adrian Peterson might sign. I'd talk to the forgotten one, J.R. Sweezy. I'd stop by Cameron Brate's locker to talk Shakespeare.
It could be a good show, an interesting show, an educational show.
And if you don't like it, hang around.
Next on Game of Thrones, Daenerys sics her dragons on Jon Snow.