Speaking of which…

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    We’re getting there.

    With NFL teams finalizing plans to open training camps, however abridged, optimism over the football season happening as scheduled is steadily climbing.  While most teams have been cautious and non-committal regarding the stringency of their guidelines, COVID-19 testing among athletes is expanding daily, although it should be noted that the NFL hasn’t established – or documented – testing protocols, which would seem to be a necessity for this season to proceed.  Obviously, rapid-response testing would be highly preferred, but since no reliable model for this sort of test currently exists, standard testing and sequestration would seem to be the only avenues teams can reasonably consider.  Speaking of which…

    With 2020 spectator attendance very much in doubt, some teams, including the Ravens, have made advance overtures to season ticket holders, essentially guaranteeing their renewal options for 2021 or refunding purchases entirely.  Since the team seems intent on allowing reduced-capacity seating – roughly 14,000 game day tickets – pricing and logistics/seating layout become paramount.  Team/stadium officials now have to consider the costs of fan concessions and maintenance of stadium facilities at roughly a fifth of their normal capacity.  The desire to provide sports in a live venue is understandable, but as I’ve reflected casually, when do these efforts become so cost-prohibitive and potentially hazardous that they simply make no sense to undertake?  Speaking of which…

    Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium (PBS) was ranked the fifth-worst venue in the NFL according to a recent Athletic survey.  Given the issues the Bengals routinely have with selling out home games, offering reduced-capacity seats could be catastrophic financially.  Although each team (so far) has the latitude to operate as they wish regarding COVID-19 attendance restrictions, it might be in the Bengals’ best interest to postpone fan attendance at all in 2020.  They’ll garner plenty of TV viewers this season just to witness 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, and any success they have playing in front of empty stadiums should transfer cleanly into 2021, when, if all goes well with player development, they should be competitive again.  Speaking of which…

    The Browns still sport supremely-talented skill position players – among the league’s best, per some – so expecting them to be competitive in 2020 isn’t as outlandish as it might seem.  In this author’s opinion, the removal of Freddie Kitchens stands to be the single biggest move of the offseason for the Browns, whose potential was surely hampered in 2019 by their perpetually angry and overmatched former head coach.  While new coach Kevin Stefanski has yet to have an opportunity to prove himself, his calm, professional demeanor and record of offensive success already places him a cut above the deposed Kitchens.  The Browns’ roster isn’t overwhelmingly different than its 2019 version; with some improved play along the offensive line, it’s easy to see them improving by three or four games in 2020, if not challenge for a division title.  Speaking of which…

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but success for the Steelers’ 2020 season depends strongly on the recuperative and staying powers of venerable QB Ben Roethlisberger.  Given the thinner defensive roster the Steelers are bringing into 2020, though, one wonders if “Big Ben’s” contributions will be enough.  Every team expects to perform a balancing act of sorts between offense and defense; the 2019 Steelers had to carry an inordinate share of defensive snaps due largely to offensive ineptitude after Roethlisberger’s injury.  As the article points out, any slippage by this defense under similar circumstances could prove disastrous in 2020…or any slippage by Roethlisberger, whose continued health is far from guaranteed.  Let the balancing act begin.

     

    Enjoy the week!

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    Ravenous128

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