The New Orleans Saints are one of four teams that qualify for HBO’s Hard Knocks in 2023. For a team to be eligible for Hard Knocks, they must not have a first-year coach, have been to the playoffs in the past two years or have been on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years. Thus, leaves us with the Saints, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and the Washington Commanders as potential Hard Knocks suitors.
This past week, we posted a poll on our Twitter page asking, “Would you like to see the Saints featured on this year’s Hard Knocks and why?”
Would you like to see the Saints featured on this year's Hard Knocks and why?— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) April 6, 2023
In a split decision, about 54% of our fans voted no with many claiming it would be an ‘unnecessary distraction.’ There is a case for this, as many teams who appear on Hard Knocks underperform the following season. While Hard Knocks is a fun way for fans to get insight on a team's players and coaching staff during preseason training camp, fans need to be wary of the Hard Knocks curse.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Saints on Hard Knocks would be exciting for everybody regardless of their favorite team. Personalities such as Cam Jordan and last year's Hard Knocks favorite, Jamal Williams, would bring some absolutely golden content. To go along with them, newly signed QB1 Derek Carr and Demario Davis have leadership qualities that could get you to run through a brick wall. Unfortunately for Saints fans who want to see the behind the scenes of their favorite team, there is a long history of disappointment for teams coming off a Hard Knocks appearance.
Of the last 10 teams featured on Hard Knocks, only three managed to make the playoffs that season: those teams being the 2021 Dallas Cowboys, 2020 Los Angeles Rams and the 2015 Houston Texans. None of these teams reached their respective Conference Championship game, with the Cowboys and Texans losing in the Wild Card round. Of the seven teams who didn’t make the playoffs after being featured on Hard Knocks, none exceeded seven wins that season. With the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all rebuilding this season, it would be heartbreaking to see the Saints miss the playoffs in 2023.
If that wasn’t enough to detour Saints fans from Hard Knocks, let’s look at how some head coaches have fared after their appearance on Hard Knocks. In the shows 17 season history, there have been eight head coaches who were fired within three seasons of their Hard Knocks appearances. Four of these coaches were fired during or following the conclusion of that season. Some notable names on this list include Jeff Fisher, Wade Phillips, Hue Jackson and Jon Gruden. Although there are many Saints fans who wanted to see Dennis Allen fired after last season, this team is all in on winning now, and a coaching change is the last thing they need.
Nobody truly knows if the reason teams underperform after Hard Knocks is because of the distraction that comes with the show or if the criteria to be on Hard Knocks is that of a team who has already underperformed in recent seasons. All I know is for a Saints team who has been one of, if not the unluckiest team in the NFL the past few seasons, they don’t need any more distractions or bad luck as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2020.
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