We will likely see more Steelers players come out soon and give their thoughts on the NFL’s decision to postpone their week 4 game with the Titans. Steelers fans and players alike should not be happy with the decision to move the game to later this season.
Week 4 is now a bye week for the Steelers and Titans. It would also make sense that the Steelers will lose their week 8 bye week to make up this game. When the NFL makes their schedule they don’t even schedule teams for bye weeks before week 5. It’s considered too early of a bye week. Even the week 5 bye week is often looked at as too early, but now the Steelers are facing a week 4 bye and 13 games in a row.
That is a huge disadvantage for the team. The bye week is a time for players to take some time off and refresh. Football is very hard on the body and having 13 consecutive games is sure to wear players down. Not to mention, if the Steelers make the playoffs, and don’t get a first-round bye they could end up playing 14 or more consecutive games.
Going into the playoffs having played 13 consecutive games would put the Steelers at a disadvantage against every team in the NFL other than the Tennessee Titans, who could end up doing the same.
More egregious is the fact that the NFL had no contingency plan.
#NFL had 6 months to think about this & plan around Covid. The fact that this is where they are, w no clear contingency plan, w no built-in, league-wide bye weeks looks like the may have completely blown it. If this happens 2-3 more times, which would seem likely, they're screwed
— David Todd (@DavidMTodd) October 1, 2020
During the summer it looked like an NFL season may not even happen. Now, after having half a year to prep for a season amongst this global pandemic it seems the NFL’s great plan of action was: nothing, absolutely nothing.
Baseball and basketball had plans of action. The NBA created the bubble, which by all accounts was a huge success. Baseball had plans in place for make-up games. Granted the MLB has an easier time making up games with the ability to play double-headers, but at least they had a plan. The NFL knows their sport better than anyone. They should have been prepared for this to happen.
Even worse than this happening right now is the chance that this could continue or happen again. What’s the plan if the Titan’s continue to have cases pop up? Is their season over. Will they continue to postpone their games? At what point will the schedule be so irredeemable that the season is ruined?
You can’t ask other teams in the NFL to wait while teams with postponed games take weeks to make those games up. Also, if they choose to not play these make-up games that becomes a huge advantage for the teams involved.
If the Steelers and Titans don’t end up making up this game, both teams would finish having only played 15 games. They also will have each taken a difficult game off their schedule. More importantly, both teams would have received two bye weeks. In that scenario, this situation goes from being unfair to the Steelers to being a huge advantage in terms of winning percentage and ability to make the playoffs.
The most disappointing thing in all of this is that it still seems as there is no plan. It took two full days for the NFL to even decide what to do with this game. Had a plan been in place, the NFL could have come out and said “here is what is happening and this is what we’ll do in any case similar to this during the season.” Instead, it was two days of chaos as they told the Steelers to continue to prepare for Sunday, said the game would move to Monday or Tuesday, and then finally postponed it to late this season.
Their response alone shows that there was no plan.
So, what is the best plan? I’m not sure anyone knows, but a plan is better than no plan. A bubble may be near impossible in the NFL due to roster sizes and the number of facilities needed. A delay in the season seems unlikely as well, but one thing is for sure. A plan needs to come into a clear view and if it doesn’t this season as a whole may soon be in jeopardy.