Detroit vs. Everybody is coming to the Home Box Office.
HBO Sports and NFL Films announced Monday the revolutionary docuseries Hard Knocks will chronicle the Detroit Lions 2022 training camp. The five-episode season debuts on HBO on Tuesday, Aug. 9 (10 p.m. ET) and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
It marks the first time Hard Knocks will travel to the Motor City and the first training camp spent with any NFC North franchise.
Coming off a 3-13-1 season, the Lions are in Year 2 of a rebuild behind head coach Dan Campbell and a staff littered with former NFL players. Detroit showed promise down the stretch of the 2021 season and could be in for a turnaround in the next phase of the restoration process under Campbell.
There remains added intrigue with the Lions owning a pair of first-round selections in April's 2022 NFL Draft, including the No. 2 overall pick, which could produce a franchise-altering player.
With Hard Knocks headed to the Lions facility in Allen Park in July, let's look at the top storylines we can expect to follow this summer.
1) Dan Campbell
Get ready for a shot of caffeine each episode with the double-Starbucks-fisting, venti-coffee-chugging coach who reverberates enough energy to light up all of Corktown. Campbell is the perfect leading actor for HBO to revolve its football show around. The burly coach's jacked biceps are only matched by his interminable enthusiasm. Sure, he'll provide uncanny quotes about "biting kneecaps," but Campbell isn't some meathead who rah-rah'd his way into a job. There is a genuine quality to the second-year coach that emanates throughout the roster. Players WANT to go to battle with a coach like Campbell. In his first year, the 45-year-old proved to be a smart leader who wasn't afraid to make tough decisions and whose players fought tooth and nail despite being underdogs every time they hit the gridiron. Campbell and his coaching staff maximized a talent-poor roster in Year 1. Now, Year 2 brings a different sort of challenge. There is no question Campbell will be the focus of the Hard Knocks crew. Heck, he's probably the main reason the cameras will be in Detroit in the first place.
2) Will owner Sheila Ford Hamp step into the limelight?
Sheila Ford Hamp's media-averse parents famously ran the Lions out of the limelight. William Clay Ford Sr. and later Martha Firestone Ford shunned the spotlight, often leading Lions fans to ponder the club's direction. Since taking over, Ford Hamp has been slightly more open, sitting for media interviews and discussing her visions of the perennially rebuilding Lions. While no one expects her to become the next Jerry Jones, Hard Knocks is the perfect opportunity for the owner to step into the forefront. As an owner of one of 32 multi-billion-dollar NFL teams, Ford Hamp is in a select group of women who hold power in a male-dominated sports landscape. That should not only be highlighted, but celebrated. Hard Knocks would provide an excellent opportunity to learn more of her perspective and plans for rebuilding the Lions. For years, a particular sect of Detroit fans has called for new ownership to take over the cyclically struggling club. While that will never happen, Hard Knocks provides Ford Hamp a chance to reach those fans -- and others -- and show that her brand of ownership and direction differs from her parents', building on the optimism emanating from the locker room. Focusing time on a female owner would also help freshen Hard Knocks' formulaic model that has become predictable and sometimes dry.
3) Third time's the charm for Jared Goff
If you were picking an NFL quarterback who should get three appearances on Hard Knocks, Goff wouldn't be near the top of the list. Yet, here we are. The Rams' former No. 1 overall pick had an embarrassing debut on HK as a rookie, famously not knowing where the sun rose. He came off better in the 2020 version, which included showing off his backyard "Goff Course." While he's not the type of personality that will move the show, as the Lions' starting quarterback, Goff will remain a key figure. The show would gain some gravitas if the Lions add a rookie quarterback with either the No. 2 or No. 32 overall picks to compete for reps with the veteran bridge QB.
4) Putting the 'D' back in Detroit
The Lions operated one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2021, struggling to generate a consistent pass rush and getting picked apart on the back end. However, the group did show signs of improvement down the stretch. There are some interesting young pieces like Amani Oruwariye and former first-round pick Charles Harris, who is coming off a career year. Michael Brockers is a Hard Knocks veteran thanks to his time in L.A. -- where he and his former D-line mates were last seen battling a beetle. The rehab of former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah, who missed all of the 2021 season with an Achilles tear, could play a prominent role. There is also the prospect that the No. 2 overall pick could be a big-name defender -- possibly homegrown talent Aidan Hutchinson -- which would add another wrinkle to the defensive storyline. But I'm expecting defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and DBs coach Aubrey Pleasant to play critical roles in the Hard Knocks plot. Both are ascending coaches who are in line for promotions next offseason. Glenn and Pleasant were big reasons the Lions' defense improved as the year progressed and has the chance to get better in 2022. Both men should get an opportunity for camera-pop during training camp that will enhance their profiles during the next hiring cycle.
5) The Jamaal Williams Show
The Lions' wide receiver room with rising stud Amon-Ra St. Brown, newly added D.J. Chark , and re-signed Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond will be key to any offensive improvement this season. That storyline is one deserving to follow. But if the Hard Knocks crew is going to aggrandize one offensive player beyond the QB, it should be Williams. The running back is one of the best characters in the NFL. Boasting humor to match his wit and candor, Williams is a phenomenal interview whenever he sits in front of the mic. The 26-year-old's beaming smile is made for the cameras, and his workmanlike attitude perfectly represents what the Lions are trying to build in Detroit.