I do agree that it can be a distraction, although the one thing I do like about Hard Knocks, as a fan, is getting to know more about the players and the way they interact. I really like the idea of seeing more about what the players are actually like as people rather than just knowing their number, what college they went to and their weight, lol.
I don't think any franchise really wants to be involved due to the distraction but, as a fan, it can be a great insight.
Its a bit of catch 22 as, although the second half of the season has a lot of home and divisional games where we can get a run going, it means the first half of the schedule has some pretty tough games, including going on the road to the two teams who contested the Superbowl last year.
My fear is we don't go 2-0 in the first two games, which most will be looking for based on current position, and then we start taking losses and our heads go down before we get into the run of home, winnable games. That would be on Reich to keep the heads up though, which I think he can do.
I am going into this season with four main hopes and, if these things happen, I wont be too concerned about the record as we are in transition as a franchise and this would lead to positivity for 2019 and beyond:
1. Luck comes back and looks healthy and plays well. Not expecting the world, just to be healthy and play to a decent level, as there will be rust, undoubtedly.
2. A big jump from our 2nd year players. I want to see specifically Hooker and Wilson come in and look like 100% starters and start making their presence felt.
3. Solid rookie class giving us starters. With the draft capital we have (which may even be added to), we need to see that translate into bona fide starters on both sides of the ball
4. Strong returns from injured players. If we can get Kelly, Swoope, Geathers and Mewhort back and playing like we know they can, that will make a huge difference to next year and hopefully going forward.
If I had to throw out a prediction just now, it would be 6-10 due to the strength of the division and I think the transition to a new defense may take more time to bed in than some would hope. But if the above four things happen, I would be happy as we look to the future.