Let’s forget for a moment that the lockout is brand new and the presiding judge has yet to rule on anything being thrown at him. But let’s also realize that the lockout could potentially keep players out of training facilities for the entire summer months and into the start of training camp. No mini-camps, no rookie camps, no passing out the playbooks, no nothing.
So what happens if the league and the players don’t get a deal done in time to start the season?
It’s obvious that there is going to be a lot scrambling to either begin the league year with an adjusted number of games, a quick free agent period, or perhaps they simply go into training camps with current rosters frozen from last year.
Who benefits from this the most?
Not the Miami Dolphins.
Let’s take a quick look at what may lie ahead for teams like Miami come September.
The Dolphins are in a boat with a handful of other NFL teams who have either changed head coaches or key coaching staff already since the end of the 2010 season. In Miami, that key is OC Brian Daboll who is trying to implement a new style of what is being called a “New England” style of offense. Without coach and player contact Daboll will have to rely on QB Chad Henne to teach the rest of the team the offense and players are not required to attend any “practices” that a player would want to organize.
Teams like the Dolphins will be behind the 8-ball in terms of the 2011 season, should the season start late or training camp is impacted. The 2011 season will not be a balanced competitive season. In fact, it’s safe to say that teams who made it deep in the playoffs last season should be able to skate through the season with players already familiar with their systems.
Teams like the New England Patriots who have been successful in their systems for years will not suffer the lack of practice time like say the Cleveland Browns who turned over their coaching staff and are implementing new systems. The same can be said about teams like Super Bowl winning Green Bay as opposed to the Carolina Panthers.
Teams with a core nucleus of contracted veterans will find it much easier to miss the off-season workload and show up to any type of training camp, abbreviated or other, with little miss in their step. Teams like the Dolphins who appear on the edge of competing in the division could likely take a step back with players who have yet to settle into their new roles or systems.
For the fans, it’s simple, for now. While someone like myself supports the owners in this, you can read my other articles as to why, as a fan, I have to hope that Judge Doty rules in favor of the players in regards to the “lockout”. This will be the first step in returning football players to the team facilities and the first step in getting teams like the Dolphins ready to play football in 2011 now as opposed to later.
In a perfect world, well, in a perfect reality of where we are at now with the labor issues, Doty will rule that the league must continue business as usual while the litigation proceeds in the courtroom.
As a reference, in 1987 the players went on strike, the owners played games with replacement players, and by the end of the season, a ruling had been made legally that set up the league and the players to do business while the players legal claims played out. The players returned to work under court arrangements and the litigation continued for 3 years without further work stoppage leading to the first real CBA.
For fans, a similar situation would be the best option. For the teams, the players, and the league owners, it would be the best option as it would keep the business of the NFL running and allow teams to prepare for equal competition.
If that doesn’t happen, the teams like the Miami Dolphins will already start the season behind teams like the Jets and Patriots. Making the road to the playoffs in 2011 that much more difficult.