Patriots

Bedard: Stubborn, arrogant NFL unnecessarily puts its season, Patriots at risk

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All but the hardest of FootballBros (like Albert Breer) knew this was going to be a tough NFL season to pull off, if you really envisioned every team playing 16 games exactly how the schedule was laid out.

Once the NFL broke their pseudo-bubbles from training camp, things were going to get dicey as players and coaches came more in contact with the real world — never mind the onset of cold and flu season.

But you figured those who led the NFL would have some common sense and make the difficult decisions to help the league through a successful 2020 campaign.

As usual, when it comes to the NFL league office, we were wrong.

It started in the planning for the season. Now it's spread to weekly decisions.

Despite not being able to be in their own facility to this point — and maybe not even Friday — the NFL continues to push the Patriots full-steam ahead towards hosting the Broncos on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, just as it did with Monday night's game in Kansas City.

I wish I were kidding, but I'm not.

The Patriots could play their second-straight game with both of their quarterbacks not taking a single snap in practice prior to taking the field. Yeah, that's really safe. Yeah, that really makes a lot of sense.

But this is Roger Goodell's NFL. You have to suspend reality and sensibility to muddle through.

Of course, all this started in the offseason when the NFL had the benefit of all the time and planning in the world. How did they use it? They just plowed ahead with the same-old, same-old.

We're the NFL, we're always right. Nothing we do is ever wrong. Nothing affects us.

If the league office had any people with common sense and not just Goodell's yes-people (he rid the league office long ago of anyone who would give him real advice) and greedy owners weighing in to make sure their pockets are lined properly, the NFL would have constructed a schedule that had a high probability of success.

Something along the lines of only divisional games, plus the other intraconference division on the schedule and the two other AFC opponents based on the previous year's standings. Then you build in bye weeks because Covid issues were bound to pop up, plus that would help the players stay healthy considering preseason practices and games were severely curtailed.

For the Patriots, it would look something like this:

Sept. 13 Miami Dolphins
Sept. 20 at Buffalo Bills
Sept. 27 vs New York Jets
Oct. 5 at Baltimore Ravens
Oct. 11 BYE
Oct. 18 at Miami
Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo
Nov. 1 at Jets
Nov. 9 vs. Texans
Nov. 15 BYE
Nov. 22 vs Las Vegas Raiders
Nov. 29 at Kansas City Chiefs 
Dec. 6 vs Denver Broncos
Dec. 13 at Los Angeles Chargers
Dec. 20 BYE
Dec. 27 BYE to get players into a conference playoff bubble
Jan. 3 Wild-card round
Jan. 10 Divisional round
Jan. 17 Conference championships
Jan. 24 Bye
Jan. 31 Super Bowl

Other provisions, for this postseason only:

  • No byes;
  • Two additional playoff teams in each conference based on overall record;
  • Teams enter a postseason bubble.

Basically, you get the divisional games out of the way in case the worst happens. If things are looking good, you can play the other AFC division in the final month.

Every other sport has had to make adjustments to their schedules and surrendered revenue. It was the height of NFL arrogance that it thought it would be immune to this, that they would be able to make through every single week and game. It was also just dumb.

But here we are. We can't put the toothpaste back into the tube, so we just have to deal with what’s going on.

As we said at the time, it was beyond idiotic to make the Patriots get on a plane and go to Kansas City once Cam Newton tested positive. The NFL should have moved that game to a new Week 18 — a catch-all for any possible issues. The science tells us that 5-7 days after a positive test is when other positives would begin showing up. If the Patriots were shut down on Friday, Wednesday or Thursday that would have given us the answer as to whether or not the team had a big issue.

 

If the Patriots didn't go to KC, we would know that a Gilmore positive test was likely an isolated event, and any Patriots players who continued to test negative, could start preparing for the Broncos on Wednesday or Thursday.

Instead, now, the Patriots have no idea whether they'll be allowed to practice on Friday, and could be made to play AGAIN on Sunday without any practice for the quarterbacks.

How does it make sense from a competitive and health standpoint to allow one team to practice all week, and play a team that hasn't been on the field once prior to that game?

Instead of one game being affected, now it's two and possibly more. The NFL has made its problems infinitely worse because of its arrogance.

Why did they do it? Don't believe all this crap being put out there by their medical people,  saying they reviewed this and that and determined the Newton risk was minimal. They proceeded with the game because it was a huge matchup for TV. How do we know this? Because they moved it to Monday, gave CBS permission to broadcast it nationally, and screwed over ESPN in the process.

As for all this fear-mongering that adding weeks to the season would be problematic and not really an option? Please.

Several have reported it's because the NFL doesn't want a team that captures the bye, to possibly go three weeks without a game.

You have to be kidding me.

First of all, teams do this to themselves all the time. The Ravens, just last year, decided not to play many players, including Lamar Jackson, in the season finale. So he didn't play a game for three weeks before losing to the Titans. And you think that's the reason the Ravens lost? That's laughable. Baltimore just played terrible and John Harbaugh got out-coached. And maybe the Ravens shouldn't have just taken Week 17 off.

Second of all, for that reason, you could eliminate the bye and add the two playoff teams for this season. Don't want the layoff? Fine, play every week. Your choice.

Finally, too much much rest is now bad to the point NFL teams have to whine about it? WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING HERE?! FIGURE IT THE HELL OUT. You have 16 players on the practice squad ... hold scrimmages or whatever, I don't care. If you are presented a situation, you figure it the hell out as a coach. Don't like it? Go coach golf or tennis. I can't believe all the crying and whining that goes on in the NFL. Oh, we can't have too much time off, we earned the top seed. Give me a break.

The NFL, out of its own arrogance and because they have made themselves beholden to their TV partners and dollars, put themselves into a bad situation and are now compounding those errors on a weekly basis with their refusal to look at common-sense solutions — like adding one or two weeks to the end of the regular season for postponements, and altering their own playoff format — to make the best of a tough situation.

If the league doesn't change course soon and adopt some simple solutions, it's going to put the entire season at risk due to their own pigheadedness.

Yeah, I'm sure everyone is shocked by this.