The COVID-19 pandemic is surging and while the NFL has found ways to keep its regular season alive to what will be the conclusion on Sunday — the playoffs to then kick off immediately thereafter — it’s not been able to escape impact from the novel coronavirus as it ride roughshod through the nation and world as a whole. On Saturday, after a week of headline players testing positive and subsequently being ruled out, it’s been discovered the Cleveland Browns are being forced to adjust yet again in 2020 because of it.
As they prepare for a must-win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17, they’ll be down two football minds, with one of their coaches reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 — the team announced — leading to the closing of their facility for now. It’s unclear who yielded the positive test result, but both offensive line coach Bill Callahan and assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters have been quarantined.
Ryan Cordell, an offensive coaching assistant, will be promoted as interim for Sunday.
These are losses the Browns can ill-afford, especially Callahan, as the absences add a handicap to the Browns in a game wherein they can ill afford it. Having lost to the dismal New York Jets in Week 16, the Browns must now win against the Steelers to clinch a playoff seat. They’ll have the benefit of , the latter being given rest after clinching the AFC North title, and there are two scenarios in which Cleveland can lose and still make the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
The first would be the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the other being a bit more complex, one that would require the Tennessee Titans to lose to the Houston Texans, and both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, respectively. And while the Bengals have been hit with a , and while the Bills have nothing to gain in playoff seeding by going all out against the Dolphins, the simplest scenario remains the best one for the Browns: beating the Steelers.
And depending on how the chips fall on Sunday, the two might meet again soon and with a lot more on the line. But, for now, the Browns are working to hopefully reopen their facility soon so they can get back to work at some point on Saturday, and not simply virtually. It’s not the first time the team has been hit with by COVID-19, but they’re hoping it’s the last.
Their loss to the Jets was largely fueled by the absence of every starting wideout due to COVID-19, as a matter of reference.