Just How Good Will the NFL Be in 2011?

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, MA  - JULY 29:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots participates in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The NFL lockout is finally over and teams have gotten back into “football mode” as they prepare for the upcoming season.  Luckily, the lockout didn’t cause any regular season games to be missed, so fans will be happy about that.  But what did it do to the quality of play for the upcoming season?  Is there a chance that the performance and play in the NFL could suffer as a result of the extended lockout?

The answer to that question is yes.  The offseason is reserved for the opportunity for players to keep in shape, learn new systems and prepare themselves for the upcoming season; that’s four months of preparation lost and this is vital preparation time.

So who does it hurt the most?  It hurts those teams that have new coaching staffs much more than it would those that have previously established coaching staffs.  Those teams with new coaching staffs need to install new systems with their existing players and these systems could be very different from the system that players had previously run.  That is why the offseason is particularly important for players in this situation.

They need to work on their timing in the new offense or defense that they will be working in.  They need to get used to the new playbook that will be presented to them by the new coaching staff, and they need to get familiar with their position coaches.

These teams will surely be behind when the season starts and it could be a rough year for some of these first year coaches.  Will they get a pass for having their hands tied during the lockout?

There are some other teams from last year that were on the verge of making the playoffs that could also be hurt by the lockout.  These teams needed just a few pieces to the finish their playoff puzzle, but with the lockout, they haven’t had time to develop any of the players that they might have been able to get had free agency started on time.

And any player that has played in the NFL for a while knows that the offseason is a good way to get their timing down and work with their coaches to improve their game.  We all know that many players went though offseason workouts during the season (without the supervision of their respective coaching staffs), but just how much did that help them?  Granted, it might have helped them stay in shape and may have helped out with their timing, but the workouts didn’t help the players learn the new systems.

Perhaps we can expect for just a few weeks at the beginning of the season that play in the NFL is going to be less than stellar because so much time was missed.  Several experts already predict that there could be a few surprises to start the season, and those teams that start the season out well will be in the playoffs when it’s all said and done.

So this promises to be an interesting season thanks to the lockout. And while things may start out a little rough, it should end up being a great season and one of the most popular in league history.