Teams like the Browns could suffer the most if there’s a lengthy lockout

You have to appreciate Browns’ new coach Pat Shurmur trying to stay focused and positive in difficult times for NFL teams.

Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Colt McCoy is seen on the sidelines as the Brows play the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

While recently speaking to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Shurmur said that even though the Browns are one of a handful of teams that have changed coaches, they won’t suffer more hardships than any other team during a lockout.

“Whatever happens, 32 teams will be in the same situation. I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I feel as though we’ve hired some great teachers and the systems we’re going to teach and employ are proven. I trust and am confident that we’ll get it done.”

What is Shurmur supposed to say? That the Browns are screwed? They’re doomed if a lockout goes into September and he can’t meet with his players? That the Browns shouldn’t even bother playing if there does happen to be a season next year?

No, he’s not going to make excuses for himself or his team, nor is he going to cast any doubt in his first couple of months on the job. That would be extremely unwise and it would make him appear weak.

That said, I couldn’t disagree with him more. Teams like the Browns, Panthers, Broncos and 49ers are at a distinct disadvantage because they changed coaching staffs and are implementing new schemes. Sure, every team will be affected in some ways by a lockout, but Aaron Rodgers already knows how to run Mike McCarthy’s offense. The Steelers’ defenders already know their responsibilities in Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz scheme. Imagine running a five-hour marathon and you have to start an hour behind everyone. You could catch up, but it’ll be difficult and that’s what teams like the Browns, Panthers, Broncos and 49ers face if the lockout lasts months.

In that same article by the Plain Dealer, it’s mentioned that the Browns were one of several teams reminded this week by the NFL that players are not supposed to “meet” with coaches or be given playbooks during this time. Thus, Shurmur can’t even give his extremely young quarterback Colt McCoy his freaking playbook.

At a meeting with coaches and GMs at the NFL Scouting Combine, the league pointed out that existing rules forbid meetings with coaches and the dispensing of playbooks until the official start of off-season conditioning programs on March 15. The league is saying the off-season rules were a concession to the wishes of the players union, which did not want coaches pressuring players to meet with coaches until the off-season programs kicked off.

That’s a shame, because the union is only hurting its own players. I get that a seven-year veteran doesn’t want to be pressured into meeting with coaches during a lockout, but what about young players like McCoy who are trying to jumpstart their careers? What about a guy like Tim Tebow, who is trying to prove to the new coaching staff in Denver that he’s capable of running the Broncos’ offense? It’s not fair to those players who actually want to work with their coaches this offseason.

If a player wants to meet with his coaches voluntarily, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to. Granted, that’s a slippery slope because then coaches can demand that players come in, but say that they did so voluntarily. Still, again, the union is only hurting the players that want to put in the work this offseason.

Even though the present situation looks bleak, hopefully the union and owners will come to an agreement soon and a lengthy lockout will be avoided. But if this puppy runs deep into the year, teams like the Browns and players like McCoy will immediately be swimming upstream once a new CBA is in place.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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