Depending on the source, NFL labor negations are either in the red zone or they’re inside the 5-yard line or they’re Jerome Bettis fumbling to Ben Roethlisberger or something like that. Whatever the analogy, my attitude remains the same – wake me up when it’s over.
Whenever there is a new CBA in place and the padlocks are removed there is no doubt some teams will be in better shape than others. This is not to say that just because the Packers are the Lombardi holders that they’ll be more prepared than the Broncos. There is no way of knowing just which teams are better suited to weather this storm. All things being equal the fact of the matter is the Packers have no concern at QB while the Broncos have no clue.
But who really cares about other teams? They’ve got their own problems. The real issue is just how much this lockout affects the Raiders.
We all know that Richard Seymour and Jason Campbell took it upon themselves to organize what was considered by most to be the best player organized camp of this awkward offseason. Hopefully that week in Georgia wasn’t the extent of activity most of the current roster has engaged in. My guess is that is highly unlikely. Considering guys like Marcel Reece are doing MMA workouts and Nick Miller was hitting the pool with Larry Fitzgerald, I’m pretty sure the bulk of the roster took it upon themselves to remain prepared.
That is great and certainly necessary but does not guarantee the Raiders will hit the ground running.
The real damage caused by the lockout relates more so to the inability of the coaches to work with the players and the front office to go about its business of building a champion.
Playbooks were passed out. Coaches had brief moments to interact with players since we know they have had no communication otherwise (wink, wink). Aside from the brief window that allowed said activities and the draft there has been nothing else that resembles normal offseason procedures.
Where the Raiders are most affected is in the personnel department, specifically the offensive line. There are plenty of areas that this team needs to address via free agency none more pressing than the O-line. Aside from Jared Veldheer there are no other positions that can be filled in with ink.
Stefen Wisniewski is highly likely to be a starter but he’s never even played an NFL down let alone taken a rep in front of one of his coaches at a practice setting. There are just far too many questions to be answered in a very small amount of time.
Looking at the bigger picture Hue Jackson’s first year as a head coach could not have gotten off to a worse start. During the 100-some-odd days of the lockout Jackson would have had ample time to get his system in the works and get his players adjusted to his routines and expectations. That is certainly a major hindrance to the Raiders. While the team knows Jackson from his one season as the team’s OC they don’t yet know him as the head shot caller.
It’s not just Jackson but his entire staff that has taken a hit. Chuck Bresnahan has only been able to look at game tape to make evaluations. Steve Wisniewski has yet to get into the trenches with his men. Rod Woodson hasn’t been able to take an up close look at his young students.
Overall the Raiders are in a tough spot. There is far too much business to be conducted by the suits and not enough time for the coaches.
But it is what it is. Every team is in the same boat.
The lockout has done some major damage to Oakland, no doubt about that. The lockout has also done the same damage to every other team in some way. By that alone it makes this a pretty level playing field. Just as the Donkeys weren’t going to trade for Peyton Manning to solve their QB problems the Raiders weren’t going to go out and sign All-Pros at every position along the O-line. No matter the timing the process remains the same. While not ideal this is the hand that has been dealt. So the Raiders, just like every other NFL franchise, will have to deal with it.