The possibility of a lockout was very real for a very long time. Now that we have had over 24 hours for the dust to settle, the heels of both the NFL and NFLPA are digging a hole an inch or two thick into the ground.
The casual fan–hell, the average fan–has cared about one thing throughout the entire process: seeing football in September. But as we’ve written on countless occasions, the adverse effects of a lockout are far-reaching. One of the side-effects from Friday’s events with the most impact will be the barrier created between coaches and players, a barrier teams are taking quite seriously.
Players are barred from using any team facilities as part of their offseason workout program during a lockout. But they also can’t have any contact with members of their team’s coaching staff, a rule that’s a fireable offence for coaches on at least one team if it’s violated, according to Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer.
Coaches have been told to have no contact with players. One agent who represents a Panthers coach said they were told that contact was reason for firing with cause, a sign of how seriously the league is taking its lockout stance.
The teams that will especially feel the wrath of the broken communication line with coaches are those that recently underwent a major change during the NFL’s coaching silly season. We’ve heard many players around the league talk about organizing independent workouts amongst offensive and defensive units. But with new coaching staffs bringing new schemes, brushing up on a fresh playbook may not be as effective without coaches present.
Once the regular season ended, six teams hired new head coaches, while two more (Jason Garrett in Dallas and Leslie Frazier in Minnesota) had their interim tags removed. Tennessee’s Mike Munchak, who was hired just over a month ago, will especially be hurting. Same goes for Josh McDaniels, the Rams’ new offensive coordinator who needs as much time as possible to work with young Sam Bradford.
The greatest measure of a sport’s popularity can often be how much it’s discussed in the offseason. It was nearly a year ago that we were analyzing a Donovan McNabb trade instead of watching baseball. The lack of free agency and player movement and the discussion it creates will get most of the attention during a lockout, but the success of a team in September is molded just as strongly by what happens on the field between March and the end of August.