Thank goodness week 5 is over. Trained out, pitted, bullied, broken down, whatever negative verb you choose from your vocabulary that you want to apply to this team’s performance will likely work just fine. The team has to fix a lot and better get it done quickly. Why did you think you could cancel training last Friday? It will take me a while to get past this feat and as the schedule gets tougher, my pessimism has been overwhelming.
My role here at BF isn’t to sit here and scold, analyze the performance, or tell you what went wrong, so I’m not going to do that. There are plenty of talented bloggers and podcasters here at BF who will connect you to this content and give you some insight. However, I’ll be using this space to quickly rant about the NFL and Roger Goodell.
The NFL was callous and irresponsible
The team refused to apologize during the post-game interviews and I’m glad they did. These guys are professionals and the team preaches “mental toughness” and I think it’s safe to say this week went out the window. They must be held accountable for their lack of preparation and the way they have been completely overwhelmed and played out.
However, the NFL has really put this team in a tough spot and that needs to be taken into account here. I love the bills, and that’s why I write here, and that’s why guys and girls read this. But for now, I want to remember that these guys are people with families and some with infants or multiple young children. We are in the middle of a pandemic and these players and coaches cannot help that they have that in mind.
The NFL played with this team, keeping them busy and never giving them a definitive answer as to when this game would be played. It was announced last Thursday that the game would be postponed to Tuesday night unless further positive tests are conducted. As the weekend came, the NFL’s Tom Pelissero announced that a trainer had tested positive and the facility had to be closed again. I saw this and said “Ok, game canceled” … wrong.
Despite the change that “no more positive tests will be done,” the NFL basically said, “No, it was a coach, so it doesn’t matter.” I put myself in the shoes of the players on this Bills team. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable traveling to Tennessee, where 23 positive COVID cases have occurred and fans are allowed in the stadium. I wonder how the team felt when they tried to prepare for this game with so much uncertainty all week.
I compare it to growing up as a kid and going to bed during a blizzard because I thought it was far from certain that the next day would be a snow day, only to wake up to the news that the snow doesn’t seem like it was bad and the school was still running. Heart pain. I think the coaches and players really felt that this game was going to be postponed. I believed it too. It was unsafe to travel to this facility. The joke is up to us, however.
This decision to play this game was a statement by the NFL that they wanted this game to be played no matter what, and that player safety was not a concern. Why did the Patriots cancel their game without question? Why did the NFL maneuver the schedule so much that the Titans could play this game? Titan GM Jon Robinson admitted two days ago that the team is not “100 percent following protocols / guidelines,” and Roger Goodell said no discipline will come for them. The patriots were docked to capture the 2-14 Bengals on film. Disregarding the health and safety of 31 other teams and their families, the Titans are considered victims and praised for overcoming “adversity”. All I can say is INCREDIBLE.
The bills and COVID, onward
Okay, now that that’s over, let’s go to the actual blog. I want to focus this week’s blog on COVID again as there is a lot to see for now. Let’s start with our bills. The Bills were fortunate enough to be the first team to travel to Tennessee since they broke out. That outbreak included 23 positive cases between players and staff, with the most recent positive being a coach last weekend.
Titan fans firmly believed the game should have been played as they had no positive player tests for two days. However, here I will share with the CDC why I am still very concerned. The CDC states that the incubation period for COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days, with a median time span of 5 days. This means that the moment a person is infected with the virus, there is a window of time for symptoms to appear. This window can last 14 days.
We don’t know of any information about the trainer who tested positive on Saturday morning. When was the last time he was with the players on the team? When was the last time he was on the coaching staff? Until we have 14 days without positive results, we have cause for concern. Cam Newton tested positive two days before the game, and Stephon Gilmore also tested positive later that week (after playing against the Chiefs). Just because there are negative tests, it is entirely possible that players will test positive days later. I hope no players have been around this Titans coach.
The Bills are the first team to be forced to travel and play against a team in this situation. Yes, the Vikings were playing against the Titans before the outbreak and were able to escape this game themselves without testing positive, which is a glimmer of hope here. But the bills were the guinea pigs, the first team to travel to Nashville. The next 14 days will be crucial to the bills, and I pray they managed to get home safely without contracting the virus.
I was upset that the teams decided to hug and shake each other at the end of the game. I’m all for sportiness, but safety comes first. McDermott and Co. appear to be very strict and “by the book” so there is no reason to believe that they were not careful and were not following the facility’s protocols. As bad as their performance on the field was, Week 5 will be a win if they get off well. In terms of injuries, it looked like they were capable of it. Knox, Dawkins and Dodson left the game at one point. Dawkins and Dodson returned, Knox did not. However, Knox’s calf injury is most likely not a long-term problem. For the next two weeks, any day without a positive test will be a win. Let’s hope they make it through 14.
Bills week six opponent Kansas City put FB Anthony Sherman on their COVID / reserve list Tuesday afternoon. It appears that this was done when he was in close contact with someone who tested positive. Hopefully he can string back-to-back negative tests and not show symptoms (must be done every 24 hours per NFL protocol), and the Chiefs can avoid a situation similar to the Bills after playing the back-to-back opponents who have confirmed the player test positive. These players include Patriots ‘Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore and Raiders’ DT Maurice Hurst. The Bill’s last two opponents were the Raiders (see Hurst, who hugs Allen tightly after the game and tested positive two days later) and Titans.
The next two weeks
These next two weeks will be crucial to the Bills and their success for the remainder of the season. An outbreak can adversely affect players, coaches, and their families. It can also affect the time of year. If they lose multiple key players by testing positive for multiple games, that could be the difference between a wildcard and not making the playoffs. Let’s hope the team can stay healthy and safe.
Let’s also hope they can fix the damn defenses too.