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Learning A New System Is Like "Trying To Learn A Language Without A Teacher"

We don't want to suggest that San Francisco 49ers quarterback David Carr is anything like Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Save for perhaps a few quarterback intangibles that we're really not interested in getting into, there's nothing to compare the quarterbacks. However, while Carr, Alex Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick are working out together in a players-only workout, they are adapting to Jim Harbaugh's version of a West Coast offense.

Bengals quarterbacks Jordan Palmer, Dan LeFevour and Dalton are working out together in their players-only skill position workouts in Southern California. And like the San Francisco 49ers, the Bengals are implementing a version of the West Coast offense with the recent hire of Bengals coordinator Jay Gruden.

The lockout, which we promoted as affecting Gruden as much as any coach in the NFL, isn't just stalling whatever development rookies could be having with their respective teams. It's holding back the incorporation of new offenses and new defenses, which affects veterans to some degree.

Carr, one of the quarterbacks learning Harbaugh's new offense, says about learning a new offense during the lockout:

"It's like trying to learn a language without a teacher," said Carr.

We can only imagine the Bengals quarterbacks and wide receivers are dealing with same thing to some degree. Offensive linemen are the smartest players on the field, so they don't apply as much. If the existing system had already been established from the previous season, it would be easier for veterans to help rookies incorporate into the system. However, that ceased to be the case when the Bengals fired former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and hired Gruden, revamping the offense that would promote a short passing game and a rushing offense.

We're not saying the Bengals can't overcome it. But it might take some time for the offense to really gel and produce early in the 2011 regular season. Consider that along with a rookie quarterback, the team might sign a veteran that has some knowledge of the terminology that Gruden will incorporate. The team did hire former Philadelphia Eagles coach James Urban to train and coach the wide receivers, who are young and (generally) inexperienced -- in Jerome Simpson's case, reportedly took so long to adapt to a system that was in place for several seasons -- that could help establish confidence on the routes they're designed to run.

Yet, with the lockout, coaches are biting their nails as time ticks away while players are doing their best on their own.