After three weeks of no postponements due to COVID-19, the NFL is now starting to get hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Titans-Steelers was postponed until Week 7, and Patriots-Chiefs was moved to Monday after players tested positive for COVID-19. This week, after more positive tests, the Broncos-Patriots has been moved to Monday night, and the Bills-Titans was moved to Tuesday night.
With the postponements, there has to be some concern around the league about the NFL’s ability to get through the 2020 season, and on Thursday, Jaguars LB Joe Schobert discussed the influx of positives test for COVID-19 throughout the league.
“It always gives you pause when you see something like this happen,” Schobert said. “Obviously, we’ve luckily been out of that crisis [that] I suppose Tennessee’s dealing with right now and a couple other teams that had some cases pop up. But I mean, it’s just the status of the world right now. We spent the whole offseason, not knowing what we were going to be doing if we were even going to be having a season.
“For me, right now, it’s always on the forefront of your mind because whenever you go and check your phone, you see a news flash of a new guy in Tennessee testing positive or their next week game potentially being postponed or forfeited or whatever the NFL decides to come up with if things keep happening. So, it gives you pause because NFL is our business and getting on the field and playing football is what we do for our living. Obviously, it gives you a moment’s pause, but I think, as professionals and in our environment here in Jacksonville, we just have to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing then.”
In a memo to all 32 clubs, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell warned teams if they don’t follow the league health and safety protocols that games could be forfeited. According to Schobert, if teams have to forfeit games or the season is canceled, it could impact players financially.
“Forfeiting games or just canceling the season would obviously not be great because then you don’t get paid for any of those forfeits or [if] the season’s canceled you’re not going to get paid anymore for the season,’ he said. “So, you don’t want it to get to that point because, like I said, it is our job. Obviously, we get paid very well in the entertainment industry as football players. There’s a lot of people out in the world who have normal every day, regular jobs who are being affected and have been affected by this as well. The forfeiture of games and potentially canceling the season is something that’s on your mind just from a financial standpoint and your family’s standpoint.”
The NFL will complete the season, but it won’t be easy, especially as we approach flu season. However, the league will do everything in their power to make it happen, so again, expect the season to be completed.
Tom Brady’s performance against the Charger is receiving a lot of recognition. Earlier on Wednesday, Brady was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, and later in the day, Brady named the FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 4, marking the 11th time Brady has won this award in his career.
The 21-year veteran became the second quarterback in team history to win both awards in the same week.
Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Brady completed 30-of-46 passes for 369 yards and five touchdowns, earning a 117.0 passer rating in a 38-31 Buccaneers win. The win marked the 222nd of Brady’s NFL career, surpassing his former teammate Adam Vinatieri for the most wins by a player in NFL history. To secure that milestone win, Brady helped Tampa Bay overcome a 17-point deficit, marking the 34th time that Brady has led his team to a win after trailing by 10-or-more points – the most-such comeback wins in league history.
Brady’s team-record-tying five touchdown passes were the most by any player in Week 4, while his 369 passing yards ranked second in the league. He threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns in a game for the seventh time in the regular season, tying Peyton Manning for the second-most such games in NFL history. He also tied Manning for 300-yard passing games, notching the 93rd of his career.
After four games, the Philadelphia Eagles have not been very good, but they play in the NFC East, and after beating the 49ers on the road 25-20 on Sunday night, Philadelphia(1-2-1) is now on top of the division.
While it’s hard to call any game in Week 4 a must-win, Sunday’s contest was pretty close to that for Philadelphia. According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, the team felt relieved after defeating San Francisco.
“The guys were excited in the locker room, high-fiving, jumping around, hugging each other, what you would expect after a win,” Pederson said on Monday. “I think these guys have been obviously beaten down the last few weeks, not only by our opponents, but by what they are seeing and reading and being talked about outside of the building. I think you can just see the relief, right, or just kind of getting that win.”
The first quarter of the season is in the books, but even with all the lows, there still is hope in Philadelphia. On Monday, Pederson reflected on the first month of the season.
“I think the one thing that’s really stood out this first month is just how resilient this football team is,” Pederson said. “We have not played our best football; I don’t feel. We’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first three, four weeks here.
“Finally overcame some of the mistakes yesterday to put ourselves in a position to be in first place in the NFC East. But there’s a long road ahead. We’ve got to learn from the first four weeks, but at the same time, learn from it and carry it forward. We’ve just got to keep working, and this is what I appreciate about our guys is they come to work every day no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the situation. They practice. It’s always been a next-man-up mentality, and they go to work, and that’s what I’ve learned, and that’s what’s going to carry us these next four weeks.”
Injuries have hurt the Eagles in the first month of the season, including injuries to both tackles on the offensive line and injuries to their top two wide receivers in Jalen Reagor and DeSean Jackson. Furthermore, Carson Wentz has struggled in the early part of the season, but the Eagles have found a way to stay afloat at this point.
The Eagles by no means have solved all their issues. Plus, their next two games are against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which means Philadelphia easily could be out of first place in NFC East by next Sunday. However, for now, they lead their division, and they still have time to fix what’s wrong.
The Jacksonville Jaguars(1-3) are starting to become the team that many thought they would be when the season started. After beating the Colts in Week 1, the Jaguars have now lost three straight, including falling to the Cincinnati Bengals(1-2-1) on the road 33-25 on Sunday.
One of the reasons Jacksonville has lost three straight is the play of the defense. Coming into Sunday’s action, the Jaguars were surrendering 28 points a contest and allowed Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow to throw for 300 yards and allowed the Bengals to rush for over 200 yards, including 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground from Joe Mixon..
“I mean, I’m frustrated,” Jaguars DT Abry Jones said after the game. “I mean, that’s obvious. We all play this game to win. Like you said, I’ve been through this more than most, and I want something to change. Am I disappointed in guys? No, because I’m still rooting for everybody on this team, rooting for everybody on this defense. I know the type of players we have, and I know the type of talent they have, and I know how hard they work, so I’m never going to be disappointed in them. I’m just going to keep on encouraging them, keep having their back.”
With the losses mounting, Jaguars WR D.J. Chark, who had eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, wants the team to stay connected.
“The mood in the locker room is basically [that] we have to stick together and [ignore] the outside,” Chark said. “I know we get home and we look on Instagram, we look at Twitter and a lot of times we are the laughingstock because people love making jokes when they’re not in the fire with us. But at this point, it’s forget them. When I go out there and play, I’m playing for those 53, 56 guys [on the roster].
“I don’t care, I’m going to put my body on the line, and that’s just what we have to do, and I feel like that’s the feeling, and if it’s not, that’s what the feeling is going to be. We just have to go out there. I don’t care if we win every game moving on or don’t win every game moving on, we’re not going to quit, for sure, and that’s the mindset we have to have. Somebody’s going to have to feel us.”
The last two weeks against the Dolphins and Bengals were an excellent opportunity for Jacksonville to get wins. However, based on what we’ve seen in the past few weeks, Jacksonville could be who we thought they would be, but as Chark said, the team has to find a way to stay together.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars released RB Leonard Fournette in August, many were surprised and wondered what running back would step up for Jacksonville. Fortunately for the Jaguars, undrafted rookie RB James Robinson has been that guy.
In three games, the 22-year-old Robinson has rushed for 210 yards with three rushing touchdowns, including a one-hundred yard game in Week 2 against the Titans. Also, Robinson is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Additionally, Robinson has 10 catches for 129 yards. What he is doing has surprised many, but not Jaguars RT Jawaan Taylor, who saw flashes from Robinson early on.
“[He’s a] great overall guy, a great locker room guy,” Taylor said about Robinson on Monday. “He’s been doing a lot of great things for us in this offense with [Offensive Coordinator] Coach Gruden, so we’re excited to have him around. He’s been doing great and adjusting to the game plans and knowing what to do and how to do it. [He’s] just trusting the offensive line and what Coach Gruden calls, and he just goes with it. He’s a great guy.
“I noticed it in camp just seeing how explosive he was in camp and how dialed in he was to everything we’re wanting to do. I noticed it from very early on, and I knew he would be a special player.”
Robinson has been running the ball well and making plays outside of the backfield, but the one thing that impressed Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was Robinson’s blocking ability, which Marrone discussed on Monday.
“So, we started doing some one-on-one pass protection during training camp, and I was like ‘Holy cow.’ I mean, he’ s—and I didn’t realize how good he was at really covering guys up, bodying them up, the strength and the explosion he had,” Marrone said. “So, then I kind of go back, and I went back at the weight room stuff and looked at that. And he’s one of our most explosive players, I found that out during training camp—which weight he can do, as far as his lower body explosion. And then it was just a matter of, ‘Hey listen, is this guy going to be able to hold on to the football when he gets hit in the NFL?’ And I think that he’s proven that.
“So, I knew he could catch, I think he’s a guy that—he can do everything, I mean, he can be a three-down back, he can protect, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, obviously he can run the football. There’s a lot of things that he does, and it’s just, it’ll be interesting to see how he does as the season goes and being able to take care of your body. And that’s the one thing I’ve always admired in this game; I don’t know if you can ever realize unless you’re down on the field, the amount of contact that those guys take, day in and day out, or [on] Sundays. And you talk about appreciation; I have great appreciation for those guys because they’re getting hit, one guy, two guys, three—you know, they’re coming from all over. I know James is working extremely hard to make sure he’s taking care of his body because it is a long season.”
Robinson has been a revelation, and if he continues to play at this level, Jacksonville may have found its running back of today, tomorrow, and years to come.