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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Teams scramble to adjust their routines in a disrupted National Football League

Athletes are creatures of habit, but players in the National Football League are in a league of their own. Every aspect of their hectic existence throughout the season is strictly prescribed: sleep, mealtimes, practise sessions, training sessions, and time spent in the trainer’s room, to name a few.

Consequently, when the National Football League (NFL) surrendered to a spike in the number of players testing positive for the coronavirus on Friday and rescheduled three weekend games to Monday and Tuesday, it did more than just disturb fans’ television watching patterns.

In addition to the “Monday Night Football” game, the Cleveland Browns will face the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday, after the postponement of their game against the New York Giants on Saturday. And then there’s Tuesday night’s matchup between the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, which will take place at the same time as the Seattle Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams.

The additional days off will provide injured players with more time to recover, which will be especially beneficial at this point in the season when muscles, joints, and bones are tired following months of abuse.

However, as a season goes, players and teams develop patterns, and last-minute changes to the schedule — made in the name of completing the season on time and keeping the league’s broadcast partners happy — may cause chaos for players and coaches.

Extra practises must be organised, as well as extra time for film viewing, which may have the unintended consequence of allowing players and coaches too much time to overthink a possible opponent. It also causes disruptions to travel schedules: Unlike most NFL games, the Browns and Raiders kicked off at 5 p.m. on Monday in Cleveland, which corresponds to 2 p.m. in Las Vegas, making it an uncommon time for a game to begin.

The early-week games also offer teams less time to recover and prepare for Week 16, when many teams are competing for a spot in the playoff tournament.

According to Steve Gera, who spent ten years working in the executive offices of the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers before starting his own sports performance organisation, “teams will be influenced moving into next Sunday.” “We’re in the second part of the season, and you’ve got a limited timeframe, so these games will have a greater effect on the teams who are trying to rest up and prepare for the postseason.”

The schedule modifications are a result of the increase in the number of players on the league’s Covid-19 reserve list, which has risen dramatically in recent days as a result of the spread of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus in the United States. There were a total of 43 players placed to the Covid-19 reserve list on Monday. Among them were Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, among others. Cleveland and Washington have so many players on their reserve lists that the clubs have had to contemplate starting quarterbacks who were signed off their practise squads to fill in for injured starters.

Coaches, on the other hand, must make adjustments to their daily routines. During the Rams’ preseason preparation, Sean McVay stated he handled Sunday like an usual Friday and Monday like a typical Saturday in order to ensure that their game plan and practise routine were in sync for a Tuesday matchup. Following their game against the Seahawks, the Rams will face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, which will provide his team with the same amount of rest as if they were playing a Thursday night game following a Sunday game, according to him. Because of the shuffle, McVay said that the Rams were putting a strong emphasis on mental preparation.

Coach Ron Rivera, of the Washington Redskins, agreed with McVay. He believes his team’s schedule has worked out nicely since it faced the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 12 and will meet them again on Sunday night following the Eagles game, which is a short week after the Cowboys game. The strategies from their last encounter should still be fresh, according to Rivera, and players and coaches were given the uncommon chance to see the Cowboys-Giants game on Sunday, which they would normally have viewed later in the week if it had taken place on a weekday.

Additionally, the older players may benefit from an additional day or two of recuperation since they tend to heal from injuries more slowly than their younger colleagues, especially at this stage in the season. The fact that this is the first season in which there are 17 regular-season games makes rest a very valuable commodity.

McVay agreed that teams who have not seen outbreaks of the illness may be dissatisfied, but he pointed out that the postponements would assist to keep the games competitive since more players will be available as a result of the postponements.

Everyone would like to play on a shorter week, but I believe one of the most admirable aspects of the National Football League is its emphasis on equality, which strives to provide a level playing field and encourage healthy competition.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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