Another round of court-ordered mediation talks have come to a close, and the NFL lockout remains. The end of the lockout was an unlikely outcome from the latest talks, but the fact that another round is in the books and we don’t seem any closer to getting the NFL back up and running. The next round of talks (court ordered) is set to take place June 7 and June 8, which effectively eliminates the possibility of mini-camps for rookies, veterans, or both. Head coaches, like Bill Belichick, have resolved the fact that there will be no mini-camps, which is where much of the groundwork teaching is done for both rookies and veterans. The most Belichick and others can hope for is training camp to get players ready for the upcoming (possibly) NFL season.
“At one point, we had to prepare for the offseason program, and that’s not really a part of it now,” Belichick told Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “We talked about some kind of minicamp or (organized team activities), but now, we just turn our attention to training camp and get our teaching and organization straight there.”
With less time to teach and implement, something has to get cut. What will the players (and ultimately the fans) be losing out on?
It appears that Bill Belichick will be cutting back on the depth of the playbook. I’m not sure if that translates to other NFL teams as well in terms of their planning and adjusting to the reduced time, but that certainly is going to handicap teams.
“We’ll have to take the windows that we have to teach things and try to see how much we feel realistically we can get done,” Belichick continued in his interview with the Herald. “Something’s going to have to go, I would think. The progression’s got to stay the same, but the breadth of that amount of installation could be subject to being trimmed back, maybe drastically.”
The hardest hit teams will be those that are relying on rookies at key positions like quarterback or newly-acquired veterans. The Patriots are returning much of their starters, so they do have that working for them. However, as most NFL fans and especially Patriots fans know, the Pats are a scheme-heavy team. Less playbook installation translates to less flexibility and unpredictability in game-planning, which will affect the on-field product. It won’t just affect the Pats, but that factor will affect every NFL team. Should we have an NFL season, we could be in for some really sloppy football in September. We could also see the veteran teams maintain their perches atop the NFL while the would-be up-and-coming teams will have to wait another year before they can begin to show their potential.