The Miami Dolphins were without five coaches against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday after an assistant coach tested positive for coronavirus, while Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is among the players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
By Sky Sports NFL
Last Updated: 09/11/20 6:22pm
NFL team owners are expected to discuss the possibility of expanding the 2020 playoffs to eight teams per conference when they meet virtually on Tuesday.
With the league officially into the second half of the season, 22 bye weeks have been used while just 10 remain. That means less freedom to reschedule games as done so amid the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, as well as further questions over the prospect of introducing a Week 18.
“You’re either going to have to say to that couple of teams ‘you’re not playing 16 games’ or ‘we’re going to invent a Week 18′,” NBC Sports’ Peter King told Sky Sports, discussing the NFL’s options in the event of another outbreak.
“They’re going to vote on giving the power to Roger Goodell to essentially allow him to say at some point in the rest of the year ‘we will have eight playoff teams per conference instead of seven’.
“I asked somebody in the league why that was so important. Imagine that the seventh seed in one of the conferences goes 9-6 and their winning percentage at 9-6 having not played one game is better than a team that would be the eighth seed at 9-7, and so the NFL I think just fears making one team miss out on the playoffs because it played its full schedule while another team didn’t.”
The San Francisco 49ers closed their facility on Wednesday after wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive, resulting in receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel and offensive tackle Trent Williams joining him on the reserve/COVID-19 list as ‘close contacts’.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan was also consequently left with limited options on offense as the NFL went ahead with Thursday night’s clash between the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
Friday’s league-wide testing then returned 15 positive cases among players, coaches and other team personnel, with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons entering intensive protocols.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was cleared to play Sunday after spending last week on the reserve/COVID-19 list, before Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a ‘close contact’, with the Browns on a bye.
The Dolphins were meanwhile without quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander, outside linebackers coach Austin Clark and quality control coach Kolby Smith for the game against the Arizona Cardinals after learning an assistant coach had tested positive earlier in the week.
Half of the league’s 32 teams had at least one case of coronavirus as of Friday morning.
King continued: “You have to ask yourself the question, what should cause a game to be postponed and what should make the NFL play a Week 18?
“As much as you say, ‘well maybe Miami shouldn’t have played because of these five coaches’, I would make this point. They’ve got eight more weeks to go and they might have a situation where down the road they’re going to have 10 players out one week.
“This thing that is basically racing across the country, it’s unforgiving. And that’s why I think you saw the NFL push to play the 49ers on Thursday night. Everybody said ‘well maybe they could have played Sunday or Monday’.
Attempting to replicate the NBA/WNBA style bubble has been an ongoing debate since the summer, with the numerical difference in travelling parties one of the main logistical issues.
While it may not be realistic during the regular season, King believes it is possible playoff teams will create their own bubble environment during the postseason month.
“The Saints are basically trying to convince the league to go into a hotel, in your home town for the playoffs and don’t allow anybody else in there,” said King.
“I’ve been to New Orleans 30, 40 times in my life and I can just tell you that if the New Orleans Saints walk into the hotel and say ‘hey we need your hotel for the next month’, they’re not going to even ask any questions. ‘Anything for the Saints!’
“That’s what Sean Payton has been almost religious zealot in telling people around the league ‘you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this’.
“They had about 135 players and staff out of approximately 170 go into their little training camp bubble and they didn’t have any positive tests so they want to do that. They’re definitely going to do that if they make the post-season. I think every other team in the league should.”
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Source : Sky Sports