Yes, I know, most of you are probably sick of hearing "Coronavirus" every minute of the day, but I haven't seen any of The Updawg writers talk about this topic in particular. So I will break down right now the teams that are most affected by the virus here.
Firstly, limited OTAs are a huge problem. Most teams aren't getting to practice together until the last minute. This means that any team with huge changes to their roster will be at an immediate disadvantage. Here are the teams with the most impactful changes:
5 teams have a new head coach. The Redskins got Ron Rivera, the Cowboys got Mike McCarthy, the Panthers got Matt Rhule, the Giants got Joe Judge, and the Browns got Kevin Stefanski. Out of these 5, only 2 of them will realistically be competing for a playoff spot (the Cowboys and Browns), so the other 3 don’t really have to worry too much about this. It is important to note that the Redskins and Cowboys new coaches both have previous head coaching experience, so they should have less of a problem transitioning even with limited OTAs.
The Buccaneers, Panthers, Chargers, Colts, Patriots, Dolphins, Bengals, and Bears all picked up potential new starting quarterbacks. It takes some time for quarterbacks to adjust to new systems especially when they have limited OTAs. I wouldn’t be so worried about the Buccaneers, Panthers, Chargers, Colts, or Bears as they got quarterbacks who I don’t think will struggle to adjust to new systems either because of their experience or their ability to quickly adjust. Out of all these teams, only the Buccaneers, Chargers, and Colts will be realistically competing for a playoff spot, and I am not too worried about their new quarterback situation.
As the playbook is opening up and they get more power, sophomore quarterbacks may also have problems. The Broncos, Cardinals, Giants, Redskins, and Jaguars all have second year quarterbacks. It could be more difficult for these quarterbacks to take the next step with less OTAs. I wouldn’t be worried about Kyler Murray or Gardner Minshew as they have already had a lot of control in their systems. Drew Lock could have problems because he was only even given the ability to audible in his 2nd to last game. He hasn’t seen a lot of the offense, and now he has a whole different team around him. The two quarterbacks with the most struggle will be Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins as they have a new head coach.
Teams with a lot of roster turnover will also be at a slight disadvantage. Most low tier teams have seen a lot of roster change, but the most notable playoff contending teams are the Buccaneers, Eagles, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals. I don’t think this will play as key of a role as changing coaches or quarterbacks, but it is still important to note.
That is not all, though. Teams with little depth will also be at a disadvantage. There will likely be outbreaks of the Coronavirus during the season, and teams will lose star players frequently. When a player tests positive, not only will they have to miss games for 3-4 weeks, they will also not be able to attend practice. It will definitely make benches more important.
The most important position is quarterback. Out of legitimate playoff contenders, the 49ers, Chiefs, Eagles, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Vikings, Titans, Bills, Broncos, Packers, Cardinals, Steelers, and Rams don’t have a solid backup quarterback. Yikes!
A few good teams that stand out for having poor depth all around are the Cowboys, Vikings, Seahawks, and Cardinals. There are more teams that could possibly struggle, but these ones seem the worst off. The Cowboys are the only team here that have a solid backup quarterback (Andy Dalton), but overall, the team is held up by a handful of stars. If Zeke or Amari or any one of their other stars goes out, they could be in for some trouble.
I also think that it is important to acknowledge the fact that the NFL season could be held in one area similar to the NBA. If this does happen, teams could lose home-field advantage. The advantage is already somewhat lessened due to no fans being allowed in, but without traveling, all games would be on a completely level field. Obviously teams with very loud fans like the Seahawks, Chiefs, Saints, Vikings, and Eagles would already have less of an advantage, but teams with harsh weather conditions like the Packers, Broncos, Patriots, and Bills would also hurt. If the NFL were to play in one location, it would most likely be in Texas. Though you may think that the Cowboys and Texans would automatically have an advantage, I don’t think they would because all factors would be level anyway and there wouldn’t be any travel. I suppose this would help teams with easy home stadiums the most.
So there is it. Out of all teams that I have mentioned, the ones that really stick out as potentially hurting because of Coronavirus are the Cowboys, Cardinals, Broncos, and Seahawks. Others have disadvantages, but these teams are the ones in the poorest position. Just to clarify: I’m only really considering potential playoff teams as the bottom teams are really just rebuilding.
Out of all teams, I think the Saints and the Ravens will have the least problems. They have Legitimate backup quarterbacks, solid depth, and will retain a lot of their roster and staff. These two teams are definitely the most prepared going into the season.
One last note before I conclude: As I was writing this and considering the effect of the Coronavirus on the NFL, I realised the legitimate fact that the season could be cut short. As one of the biggest football fans you’ll meet, it truly pains me to write this. The Hall of Fame game was already cancelled. I know that it is a meaningless preseason game, but it still worries me. As things are opening up, cases are on the rise. It is getting worse out there particularly in the states opening up the fastest. Cases in Texas are skyrocketing, and that is one of the biggest football states. Dr Anthony Fauci says that the only way the season could happen is with a ‘bubble’. By that he means similar to what the NBA is doing where all the players are isolated and playing in one area. The only problem is that the NFL wouldn’t be able to do that realistically. An NBA team requires 28 players, 2 coaches, a few refs, a few medical personnel, and a couple people to manage the court to play. The NFL requires 110 players, a ton of coaches and assistants, many more referees, people to manage the game like chain operators, a ton of medical personnel, and other people to manage the field. Keeping so many people in a bubble really is unrealistic. So what if they can’t keep them in a bubble? Well, once players or other staff come in contact with the Coronavirus, it could be over. The idea is to test every person before and after the game. Well, what if one test doesn’t go through right? Then 2 teams could possibly be completely quarantined. I don’t want to be the downer, but realistically, the NFL season could not happen.
As of right now, we will have to see how things go. If the NBA season doesn’t work, there is no way the NFL will. If player cases start going up even before the season starts like they have been, that could also be very bad for the season’s future. I am no doctor and I am no time traveler, so I don’t know what will happen. I am just hoping that everything will be fine.