A while back I wrote that we could probably start a running post detailing the various impacts of the NFL lockout, both those that directly effect the players, and others that could potentially damage the economy. We’ve unofficially done just that, and now all we need is a cool, catchy title (Big Wig Blackout? CBA Clustastrophe?).
Although the rumours of Kenny Chesney’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated, one key piece of March player development has hit the bottom of the trash can in Green Bay. Mike McCarthy won’t be holding his renowned quarterback school.
Each March the Packers head coach gets his quarterbacks onto the practice field for some critical one-on-one time. With the lockout preventing any contact between players and coaches and barring players from team facilities, McCarthy told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert that his development program will likely become a lockout casualty.
Typically run at the end of March, McCarthy was predictably tight-lipped about the specifics of the program. But he told Seifert that it’s essentially a tool to help his stable of arms prepare for training camp and to build the fundamentals of young quarterbacks.
Organizing an opportunity for individual time with quarterbacks is a simple concept that McCarthy found valuable while he was a position coach with the Chiefs in the early 1990′s. It’s a practice that’s particularly important for recently drafted quarterbacks who just learned a new system and then sat on the bench for a year.
You’re never too experienced or been in it long enough to not find a better way this year. Because today’s game, it’s just a big circle. The NFL is just a circle of adjustments, whether it’s the 3-4, or whether it’s the 4-3, whether you’re spreading them out or running the ball. You really don’t run new plays. There are so many great coaches and players that have come before us and you’re just reinventing the stuff that have been done over history. You try to stay one step ahead of your opponents.”
Part of what became especially incredible about the Packers’ championship run was the amount of injuries the team had to overcome. The bug didn’t escape the quarterback position either, as backup Matt Flynn stepped in for Aaron Rodgers after he suffered two concussions.
In his lone start in Week 15 against New England, Flynn was surprisingly effective for 59 minutes–throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns–but then crumbled while trying to manage the clock in the two-minute drill and Green bay narrowly lost. Clock management is a core skill Flynn could be developing with McCarthy right now.
Flynn has one year remaining on his contract. If the Packers are still entertaining the thought of trading one of the league’s most coveted backups, then McCarthy’s quarterback school would have also been incredibly valuable for Graham Harnell. The third-stringer just finished his rookie year and has yet to take a regular season snap.
The lockout is not just costing players money and access to training facilities. It’s taking away an opportunity for career development, and in this case it’s a vital one for quarterbacks. No one is immune either, from the Rams with Sam Bradford to the defending champs.