For obvious reasons, the Cardinals' quarterback situation is the area hurt most by the lockout. Arizona has been unable to trade for new blood under center or make a move in free agency. Even if the team planned on going with John Skelton heading into the 2011 campaign, a full offseason and training camp would have done wonders to prepare the second-year signal caller for the role. The Cardinals' defense has also been greatly affected by the lockout. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton will be implementing a new scheme and has been handcuffed in terms of instilling his philosophy.
— Brad Wilbricht, AZRedReport.com
The Bears will be most hurt along the offensive line due to the lockout. Last year's front five was arguably the worst in the league, allowing an NFL-high 56 sacks. In 2011, the Bears will be starting a rookie at one tackle position, Gabe Carimi, and last year's seventh-round pick, J'Marcus Webb, at the other tackle spot. Time in OTAs and mini camps would have allowed these new pieces to jell and given the coaching staff a better chance to iron out the kinks. Additionally, the team hasn't had an opportunity to re-sign stalwart center Olin Kreutz, the line's most crucial cog. With the shortened offseason, its doubtful this unit will be able to make any major positives strides this year.
— Jeremy Stoltz, BearReport.com
The Lions might be in a unique position compared to many of their peers. Not only were the team's player-organized workouts the most active league-wide, but in terms of playbook education, the schemes deployed offensively and defensively are not overly complicated. And most of the starters, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, are already intimately familiar with any intricacies. For the first time in years, the franchise isn't relying on its draft picks to contribute immediately. It's inevitable that most teams, including the Lions, are going to encounter some kind of post-lockout hangover, but Detroit appears to be at least one club that should absorb it well and be better prepared to respond.
— Nate Caminata, RoarReport.com
Green Bay Packers
The Packers probably are the league's winners during the lockout. Their coaching staff returns virtually intact. They might lose a starter or two in free agency, but, otherwise, the roster is deep and loaded with the influx of 10 draft picks and 15 players from injured reserve. Really, none of those rookies will be counted on to play a huge role, barring injuries. The key is how the Packers replace standout defensive end Cullen Jenkins. Beefy Howard Green will play on running downs, like he did down the stretch last season, and they'll count on 2010 second-round pick Mike Neal to pressure the passer like Jenkins.
— Bill Huber, PackerReport.com
The Vikings could be one of the hardest-hit teams because of the lockout. There is a new offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, and with that comes a new scheme. Piling on is the fact that the Vikings have three quarterbacks on the roster with a combined two NFL starts -- Joe Webb has both of them. The silver lining in the predicament is that all three have spent time learning Musgrave's offense from Chris Weinke in Florida. That could give Webb and Christian Ponder an edge at the starting job over a probable veteran addition at the position once free agency opens.
— Tim Yotter, VikingUpdate.com
San Francisco 49ers
The lockout hurts the 49ers in general as much or more than any other team, because they have a new coach in addition to new coordinators on offense, defense and special teams. Only three assistants return from 2010, so the new staff still has a lot of greeting, meeting and teaching to do with its players, the first two of which usually have been accomplished in full by now. While Vic Fangio's defense is similar in concept to the 3-4 scheme the 49ers have been operating in recent seasons, the offense is being completely overhauled with new coach Jim Harbaugh bringing in his version of the West Coast system. Since the 49ers would like to put the development of second-round pick Colin Kaepernick on the fast track, the lockout is killing San Francisco's hopes of incremental progress and stability at quarterback, even with veteran Alex Smith returning as the presumptive starter. No question about it, the 49ers will be behind even more than most NFL teams when the lockout ends and training camps finally begin.
— Craig Massei, NinersDigest.com
|John Crist is an NFL analyst for Scout com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.|