NFL Coaching Hires: Strong Indication of a Future 18-Game Season, Not a Lockout

John DurstCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 07:  Jim Harbaugh poses for a picture with President and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, Jed York, (left) and general manager Trent Baalk following a press conference where Harbaugh was introduced as the new San Francisco 49ers head coach at the Palace Hotel on January 7, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In the last week, we've seen all but one NFL franchise shore up their vacant head coaching positions.

The Panthers parted ways with head coach John Fox and hired San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to fill the position. John Fox was promptly hired by the Denver Broncos to run their team.

The Browns hired St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to run their franchise, and the 49ers landed Stanford coaching phenom Jim Harbaugh to lead them into the future.

There has been widespread speculation as to what the ramifications of a possible NFL work stoppage would mean to the daily goings-on throughout the league.

This sudden rash of new hires may tell a bigger story than just "out with the old."

It was commonly reported that with a lockout looming, many coaches who may have been on the hot seat may see one more year at the helm of their respective franchises due to the prospect of a new leader not having enough time to implement new schemes and strategies.

It was believed that if the work stoppage looked like a realistic possibility, the owners would have their hands tied to the old guard or at the very least would be forced to promote from within.

While the NFLPA (NFL Players Association), league commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners are all being very hush-hush on the matter of discussions involving the new collective bargaining agreement, the sudden rash of new head coaching hires may be an indicator that we're closer to seeing an 18-game season than a lockout-shortened season.

The Raiders remain the only team yet to name a new coach, after letting go of Tom Cable.

With so many new faces running the show in new places, it's hard to imagine that the NFL owners still see a work stoppage on the 2011 horizon.

New head coaches bring in their own staff and have to get their team on board with a new game-plan and schemes.

Implementing this type of operational overhaul takes an incredible amount of time and dedication, the likes of which could not be fully achieved with a lockout-shortened off-season.

With the owners pushing so hard for an 18-game season, it's also important to prepare for this season being longer than what we're used to seeing, rather than being shorter.

I'll continue to monitor this situation, but as of now I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the chances of this deal not getting done before training camp are very slim.