The NFL does not kick off its regular season until September, but the Covid-19 pandemic has already impacted the offseason schedule. The draft is scheduled to happen on time, but the pandemic resulted in the league canceling Pro Days and team visits. More importantly for current NFL players, it has also resulted in a delay to the start of offseason workout programs.
Today, April 6th, was the first day teams with new head coaches could convene for their offseason programs. They run a little over two months, capped by mandatory minicamp in June. Teams with new coaches can start at the beginning of April, and returning coaches can get their programs started two weeks later.
The pandemic has resulted in social distancing and every NFL team has shut down their facility. This has left players working out on their own. The NFL and NFL Players Association are working on the specifics of the program since this is a unique situation. According to Albert Breer, “all teams are allowed to distribute playbooks to their players, and coaches can send teaching tapes (video with instructions voiced over) along too.”
For veterans getting going with a returning coach, there is a bit of an advantage. The playbook likely isn’t changing too drastically, and people are on the same page to some degree. A new head coach or a change in an offensive or defensive coordinator is going to leave some teams at a significant disadvantage. Advances in technology make this situation easier to deal with, but it is still not ideal.
“So we were supposed to start some video chats and stuff like that starting Monday, but as of right now, that got pushed back,” Walker said. “So we’re just looking forward to seeing when they give us the date to — at least virtually — meet. So I’m just looking forward to when they give us that schedule.”
New Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is among the new head coaches delayed right out of the gate. That combined with the Panthers bringing in Teddy Bridgewater as their new starting quarterback, and this is a complicated situation. They can discuss the playbook and have virtual meetings once rules are settled upon, but players can’t work on their timing and as most people will acknowledge, working entirely virtual in this kind of situation can create issues with implementation.
If you’re looking for teams to fade in the early going of the 2020 regular season, teams with new head coaches and/or coordinators might be worth considering. They are going to have less time to prepare, which would seem to put them at a disadvantage. That will be worth considering as you prepare your betting decisions for the 2020 season.