Assuming that the lockout continues for at least another month or two but not actually destroy next year's football season, what do you think the effect on the quality of play will be? Significant? Barely noticeable? Vary by team?
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Everyone knows how bad some of the pre-season games look. Receivers run not-so-great routes, the coverage is spotty, the O-lines haven't seemed to gel yet, linebackers are great on gap discipline, and the play calling is vanilla. Perhaps this is due to just the quality of the win (answer = none). So let's ignore these preseason games for the sake of argument, even though I believe that the loss of preseason games could hurt the quality of play somewhat significantly.
So let's look at a game that mattered, and one that we're familiar with.
Last year's season opener--Vikings at Saints. The hype for that game was pretty epic. Everyone remembered the NFCCG, which was played only two games before (though quite a few weeks beforehand) and which had some pretty epic plays and a crunch overtime. The actual game? Three touchdowns for both teams combined, plus a field goal and a missed extra point. Ugh. Favre managed to complete exactly no passes in the third quarter. Maybe that's good defense; maybe he was worn out after the brutal NFCCG. In any case, the Vikings--and the Saints--did not show the explosive offenses that they had had the year before.
Why? Because it was the first game of the season. That's why most college teams schedule someone like Middle Tennessee State for their first game because almost every team needs a tune-up game (or two). Even with pre-season, the teams around the league don't look like they're in "mid-season form."
And we're not even including teams that had major rookie additions. Can you imagine what the Panthers will look like if Cam Newton plays the first game with only a month of practice? Or what the Vikings will look like this year with their lineup of quarterbacks? Or Arizona? Odds are, pretty bad (one can only hope).
Maybe, since these are jobs to these people (players and coaches alike), they'll be quick learners and the season won't be different from any other. We'll see. Vote below your opinion on the matter.