Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Could the Lockout Hurt the Eagles?

As we wait and watch the NFL and NFLPA drama play out in court, there are a few perspectives on the labor dispute, old and new. Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski discussed the current lockout in terms of the 1982 players' strike. According to Jaworski, the strike, which stopped the season for 57 days, crippled the Eagles. Hot on the heels of the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance in the 1980-1981 season following a dramatic few playoff years, Jaworski assessed the team as "explosive." Jaws attributes the failure of this explosive offense's production to the dwindling numbers at workouts and practice as the strike prolonged. Jaws' biggest concern is for current Eagles QB Mike Vick, still relatively new to the Eagles' offense, and hopefully will have an improved, though new, offensive line to work with. Without the summer training program and preseason activities, as Jeff Offord points out will likely be missed, a new O-line could be disastrous. Even if the work stoppage were to end just before the season begins, and assuming all the players stick with their exercise routine, they will not have worked as a full team, or with the coaching staff, in months. While this problem of time will be the same for all teams, it will not affect all teams equally. Teams whose quarterbacks have been established for years, like the Steelers, Packers, or even Jets, and who have low-prospect of player movement will clearly come out above teams missing quality players at key positions, like the 49ers' lack of QB or the Bengals' struggles both at the QB position and on the offense in general. Teams like the Raiders, who have recently parted with their head coach, will face other difficulties all together. Not that next year's playoffs (if they happen) will look exactly like this year's by virtue of strength of previous year. Not at all, point number one being the NFC West. Last year it was literally anyone's game, and if each of the teams in the division struggle, it could be this year as well, though it is likely one will learn from last year and be stronger this (possible) season.

On the other side of the glass, Eagles president Joe Banner has strong feelings about the lockout, and is not shy about showing his frustration at the stop in negotiations. Unlike many who have discussed anger regarding the talks, however, he is mainly frustrated with the players union. Banner thinks the players walked away from a good deal and said that the owners' final offer proved how much they were willing to give up to keep the game going. The players union executive director DeMaurice Smith contests Banner's assessment, saying that the financial data sought by the union was not given, and breaks down the cap changes significantly differently from Banner. While Banner was making his comments regarding the negotiations, the Eagles emailed an open letter to fans on the Eagles' mailing list from Banner and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, as well as publishing it on the team website. The letter discussed the management's faith in the federal mediation process and talked about the "long-term health of the league." It also reaffirmed the Eagles' commitment to winning a Super Bowl and that planned offseason events would still go on as scheduled. The letter met criticism from the fans, though it would be interesting to see an event at which coaches and players were both committed to attend. In this case, the players would likely not attend, but it would be fun to watch them act like a divorced couple, forced to be at the same event, though not allowed to interact. To be a fly on that wall.

In former Eagle news, Donovan McNabb is serving as an analyst for Comcast's NCAA Tournament. McNabb, who played two years of basketball at Syracuse, is expected to be traded from the Washington Redskins once the labor dispute is over. The former Eagles QB will have options, depending on when the dispute is over. Let's hope none of them include Kyle Shanahan or Rex Grossman.

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