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Another lockout issue

Loss of pre-draft camp impacts new coaches, veterans. Matt Bowen

Print This April 05, 2011, 05:30 AM EST

The NFL lockout has already lasted over a month. No free agency, trades or any sort of veteran player movement are evident examples of the fallout. And no contact between player and coach, which includes the basic idea of a playbook.

I think this is an absolute mess from a football standpoint—but it gets worse.

Jimmy ClausenICONJimmy Clausen won't be able to practice for Ron Rivera before the draft.

New coaching staffs do have the luxury (and something I see as a necessity) of holding an extra mini camp in the offseason. That camp—which is a usually a veteran camp—is held on one of the weekends leading up to the draft.

However, as new Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier announced on Monday, Minnesota will cancel their scheduled camp this weekend because the NFL is currently closed for business. And we can apply the same thing to new staffs in Carolina, Denver, Cleveland, Tennessee, San Francisco, and Oakland (unless the lockout is suddenly lifted).

In reality, these camps are an audition for veterans in front of the new coach. New playbooks, techniques, practice habits, etc. All important phases of the first pre-draft mini camp with a new boss in town.

But the bottom line here is simple: coaches want to evaluate the vets at these camps—because they are looking to replace them.

I’ve been through two of these pre-draft camps as a veteran during coaching changes in Washington under Joe Gibbs and in Buffalo under Dick Jauron. What is usually a glorified OTA for current players on the roster turns into a competitive atmosphere, because jobs (and future paychecks) are at stake. You know the coaching staff is going to set their draft board off of what they see with the (leftover) talent on the practice field.

The veterans who will be working under new coaches understand this. Losing that extra weekend to learn new schemes and pre-snap alignments hurts, but not as much as the opportunity for vets to showcase their talents—even in shorts and helmets.

Think of some of the young talent that is on stage for the new staff to evaluate. Jimmy Clausen in Carolina (a club that has been connected with both Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert) or Tim Tebow in Denver. What that pre-draft mini-camp provides is three days of practice in front of the new head man. Now—in the current state of the NFL—that is lost.

And it hurts both sides. Coaches are now regulated to watching tape, losing out on the chance to work with these veterans and see them up close on the practice field, in meetings and under the stress of learning a new playbook over night—something you can’t see in the film room. That isn’t good Ron Rivera, John Fox, Jim Harbaugh, etc.

As I said above, the NFL lockout is a mess from my point of view when we apply it to actual football on the field. And right now, no one is winning. New coaching staffs included.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41


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Mr. Murder
Apr 05, 2011
06:09 PM

Most playbooks are rather similar from several aspects. Stratagems and theory contain enough fundamental likeness that you can grasp the concept and purpose of a system from an overall view. Mastering its techniques and building familiairity to the point you can expand the conversation and command of those calls is crucial. This is a sport of orchestrated violence, and men can get hurt in the wrong position at a given time.

This also forces a qualitative aspect to be in play, and means teams will likely go vanilla with coverages and protections a given tme. Expect the result to be more total offense, a necessity given rules changes to implement long playing fields and degraded impact of special teams outcomes for closing a victory.

Bigger, faster, stronger, just went from a flow and feel like NASCAR to a dirt track element or the crashup derby. So the woenrs cut payroll in months where revenue generation is limited, the bottom line may improve but strategic gain of a game being marketed worldwide is at risk when you consider neighboring NAFTA lands like Canada and Mexico are expected to host games.

The NFL should take a step to new venture capital measures. We already play London. Moscow should be a consideration for a preseason game and the league could do landmark work normalizing trade with Cuba by having a preseason game there. China is a huge market, the world's largest. Japan has always been a fan of western sports, they love baseball and basketball has a passionate Asian following.

Stop fighting over past boundaries and expand the earnings exponentially. We may agree upon more games, but only if we limit preseason. Or, we could apply the exisitng framework of the world's greatest sport and plot it on a larger graph, across contitnents.

The owners seem bent on playing bully. There's a lot more to school than recess or gym class.

Apr 05, 2011
08:42 PM

Amen, brotha...

Apr 07, 2011
09:07 PM

This is exactly why the judge must grant the injunction immediately without consideration to the appeal of the NFL owners . This way the lockout can be lifted and some valuable preparation time can be salvaged for the players! The owners with their greed are destroying the sport...the need for new luxury boxes, scoreboards, and costly stadiums so that they can soak the fans for more bucks has grown far beyond any reasonable boundaries. The legal arguments of the owners have been turned down for more than 30 years.. Let it end...lift the lockout, settle the lawsuit and let us have our football back!

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