If there were ever a case of ‘no news is good news’, this surely can’t be it. The NFL labor situation (which is inappropriately named because it’s not the players out on strike, it’s the owners locking the players out) is slowly entering a point where the longer the impasse, the greater the effect on the outcome of the season. The longer the situation goes on, the more the NFL is going to start to lose an opportunity for certain teams to remain competitive in 2011.
For Starters, teams with new coaching staffs are going to face a sliding scale as July turns to August, and August to September, without any progress in an agreement. Coaches need May to get their players on the same page of the playbook. Look what happens when a player or two misses a month or two of OTAs due to a hold out. They are far behind when Camp opens early August and the rest of the team knows what they’re doing.
Now multiply that by 30, because the whole team will be in the same position. Now I’m assuming were talking about a team that’s loaded with a veteran presence; because if you add 7 draft picks to this mix, you are even farther behind the eight ball now.
The Minnesota Vikings fans will probably have to bring out their Tavares Jackson jerseys, because it’s doubtful Christian Ponder will be anything to look at until 2012. How much can a Quarterback learn with no QB coach or Offensive Coordinator to show him the playbook properly? But at least Minnesota has a backup option; The Carolina Panthers will be putting their entire season on the shoulders of Cam Newton, the NFL’s first overall pick from the 2011 draft.
That’s not to mention the teams that have new players AND new coaches! And the longer the work stoppage, the greater the impact will be. Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for instance; since that’s the team I cover regularly. One look at their schedule, and the locking out of players could give a major advantage to the playoff possibilities for the Bucs.
After an opening week game against Detroit, the Bucs will take on a Vikings team with an interim coach from last year and possibly a rookie Ponder at the helm. All told the Bucs would face 7 games featuring 6 new head coaches that will be struggling to get their playbooks taught to their players who will be going back to work with last years plays on their shirt sleeves.
If you remember, Tampa Bay in their defensive heyday would ruin the lives of rookie QBs. Well this may be the re-birth of the Bucs defense- In addition to Ponder, two games against the Panthers Cam Newton, There are games against Tennessee Titans’ Jake Locker, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, and even Jacksonville Jaguars’ Blain Gabbert could be up to bat by the time the Bucs take on their north Florida in state rival on December 11th.
That’s two interim Coaches from last year, four entirely new coaches in 2011, and 5 rookie QBs a total of 6 games with only one of those QBs having a coaching staff that was intact in 2010.
The longer this lockout continues, the greater the effect there is going to be on not only the quality of the game, but the integrity of the outcome as well.