Tampa Bay Head Coach Bruce Arians has said on a podcast that he might “have to quarantine a quarterback” in case of a quarterback testing positive for COVID-19. Speaking to Chris Long, former edge rusher and Super Bowl winner, Arians was clearly concerned about the potential effects of the virus during the season.
Bruce Arians said, “From what I’m understanding is if you test positive, you get quarantined for two weeks. Now, if you have no symptoms, I don’t know what that means. Is it a false one?”
“There’s so much to learn and still explore with this thing, but I’ve thought about keeping the third quarterback on the roster out of the room. We have two guys that have been in our system, really sharp. So, I might have to quarantine a quarterback just in case of a quarantine.”
Bruce Arians prescient comments
Arians’ comments came just a few days before ‘several’ Cowboys and Texans players tested positive for the virus, including Ezekiel Elliott. While clearly not unpredictable, the mere fact of a tier-1 player such as Elliott testing positive will give the NFL some pause going forward.
While practically speaking Bruce Arians’ comments make sense, in reality, they are somewhat hollow. If a player like Tom Brady were to test positive, in all likelihood NFL head office would meltdown under the media spotlight of such horrendous optics.
By the same token, if you quarantine a quarterback they are by definition having no direct contact, training, or reps with players on the field every day. They are completely out of the loop. So while they will have a better grasp of the playbook than a quarterback off the street they would have the same level of rapport with the players as that street player.
This also ignores the question of what happens in the NFL if a starter tests positive. Clearly he will have had extensive, close-quarters contact with at least the members of his unit. Possibly with members of other teams, coaching staff, support staff, tv crews. The list will be extensive.
Does the league just extract the one player who has tested positive, or take out everyone “reasonable”? It’s a minefield and suggesting you quarantine one player seems really just to be feeding a media narrative than actually commenting on a plausibly executable strategy.
That’s not to say Bruce Arians and his staff are not considering options with regard to a player testing positive for COVID-19. But this measure in particular seems spurious at best, and likely just one of those clever counter-measures coaches put out to direct attention away from one place and onto something that won’t compromise their preparations for the season as much.
All of these questions are likely to be addressed in some manner before training camps open on July 28th. But as the latest news from Texas shows there is still a serious chance that COVID-19 will impact the 2020 NFL season.