The View From Pluto: Browns Face Uphill Challenge with New Staff and No Preseason
The NFL season starts September 10 when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.
But because of the pandemic, there are new safety protocols, limited practices and no pre-season games this year.
WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says this season could be a rough one for teams led by new coaching staffs like the Cleveland Browns.
Abnormal training camp
With the coronavirus upending traditional training camp and the preseason, Pluto doesn't know what's going to end up happening, especially when football is able to be played.
"Normally a Browns' or any other NFL team training camp would have everything plotted out by the coaches, almost from the day they show up for their physicals to the day they get ready to open the regular season," Pluto said.
Coaches would normally be able to organize the schedule by the hour or even by the minute for the drills, the meetings and everything else
Hardest road to play
Pluto says with football and the nature of the game, it presents the biggest hurdles to overcome in the pandemic to safely play.
"I think by far of all the sports; basketball, baseball or football, football is the hardest in this environment."
For Pluto, it starts with how the game is played.
"There is no social distancing. There just isn't. Picture the line: You've got an offensive tackle and a defensive end and before the ball is snapped, their heads are about three inches apart and then they hit each other."
Pluto believes the football season will be able to start, but not necessarily reach its finish.
"What will happen with teams, especially what we're starting in baseball is when you have a rushed or different type of training situation, regular old injuries show up all over the place."
New staff already at a disadvantage
With a virtual offseason program and no preseason games to be played, the Browns will be trying to get everything working with a new staff, playbook and scheme, something that other organizations like the Chiefs and Texans aren't having to adjust to.
"They're allowed to have something like 14 practices in pads, but I wonder if they'll even have that many," Pluto said.
The problem without preseason games and the accelerated timetable is something Pluto says has shown up in the other sports.
"What will happen with teams, especially what we're starting in baseball is when you have a rushed or different type of training situation, regular old injuries show up all over the place," Pluto said.
As for pushing back when the schedule plays out, the NFL can wait and still get people to watch.
"Here's the thing about the NFL: they have a chance if they figure 'You know what? We don't have to start until December 1st,' they can. They don't care. Play in the snow, nobody's going to be in the stands anyways, just put it on TV," he said.
"Remember, just as the other sports are driven by having their thing out there for the money, for the players and for the owners, no sport has a bigger TV contract than the NFL."