NFL Lockout (Hopefully) Appears to be Almost Over – How Much Has the Lockout Hurt the Bills?


Accoring to reports from ESPN, the NFL lockout might finally be coming to end. It won’t be tonight, but it seems as if both sides are determined to get at least the framework of a deal done by the end of the week. This is obviously amazing news, and it comes just in time. If a deal gets done next week, training camps should be able to open on time.

While it’s great that the NFL could be back next week, this lockout is not without consequence. The NFL lost the entirity of its summer schedule, including the annual rookie symposium, rookie mini-camp, and most importantly summer Organized Team Activities. This means teams could not supervise player workouts, either in the weight room or on the field. The organized workouts are very important, especially to teams with new coaching staffs. Fortunately, the Bills aren’t in that boat. But how much will the residual effects of the lockout damage the Bills in 2011?

On a first glance, it would seem like the Bills would be among the league’s better-suited teams to dealing with limited practice time. After all, almost every single player who will contribute to the Buffalo offense in 2011 was on the roster for at least part of the season in 2010 (the only exceptions are rookies Chris Hairston and Johnny Wh and sort-of-rookie Marcus Easley, none of whom will start), and the Bills lose no one of real consequence on offense either. One would think that everyone should know the playbook and be ready to go when camp opens.

Sadly, it’s not that simple. Winning at the NFL level is extraordinarily difficult. Scoring points requires more than just talent and knowing the plays. There’s a cohesion that needs to be developed. Ryan Fitzpatrick really could have used more time to work with his receivers, developing that perfect timing that makes the difference between an incomplete pass and a first down. The offensive line could have used some more time to gel, particularly if Eric Wood is being moved to center. It’s just frustrating to think that this offense could be so much better than it’s probably going to be, thanks to time constraints.

And the defense could be a mess. There’s a lot of new parts to plug in, and not a ton of time to do it. At least three rookies (and maybe a few more) are going to be playing major roles. Can they adjust to the NFL fast enough without having the benefit of summer workouts?

Making matters worse is the fact that the two top teams in the division – the Patriots and the Jets – return largely intact with veteran squads  and probably won’t miss a beat in training camp.

It could be worse – this could have happened last year when Gailey hadn’t even installed a system yet. Lord knows what’s going to happen to the teams with new coaches this year. But the lockout was still