BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the last week, there has been growing concern about the feasibility of an NFL season in the fall due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in various states across the country. With a few teams reporting positive COVID-19 test results over the course of the weekend and the NFL Player’s Association’s medical director advising players not to participate in private group workouts, hope seemed to be slipping away.
That’s not the case for Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Asked on a conference call Monday whether he was confident that the season will happen and start on time, Harbaugh said that while nobody can predict the future, he’s hopeful and believes it will happen.
“Nobody can predict the future, that’s in God’s hands. As always, to be determined. I’m confident that it will happen. I’m hopeful, I’m praying for it. I want it to happen and I believe it will happen,” said Harbaugh. “I think we’ll have the protocols in place. The testing is the main thing that seems to be the biggest piece and the most important piece right now to making sure that we don’t have spread in the building. But you know we’ll trust, trust a higher power.”
While we don’t know what the season will look like, Harbaugh and the Ravens have been preparing as best they can in the meantime. That preparation has come via video conference meetings with his players, which Harbaugh admits was a challenge at first. But, he says that he believes it has made the coaching staff better at communicating their message and lessons efficiently.
“The virtual stuff has been and interesting challenge and kind of a blessing in the sense that you have to really look at how your teach. How you put the system together, how we’re going to organize practices in a shorter time frame try to be more efficient than ever. I think the communication over the virtual setup it demands some real efficiency in the way you say things, the way you put together your presentations, the video that you watch, the drawings those kinds of things. That’s probably helped us just become better at what we do.”
That efficient communication will be of particular importance for rookies who do not have the same offseason of preparation that they normally would in ramping up for their NFL career. For Harbaugh, the main way that his staff has looked to teach the incoming rookie class is by testing them with games, competitions and paying attention to the quality of the questions they ask about the presentations and meetings in order to get a sense of their preparation level.
“We do a lot of testing. A lot of competitions, game type things that are fun. The quality of the questions they asked and the information if they can give it back to you. That’s what we’re doing. It’s not like we’re seeing them on the field, and see if they can process what they have learned and take it to the field. That’s the one thing we haven’t seen. But the verbal communication, the written communication, the speed at which they think about those things, we have seen that so we have a pretty good idea at least.”
The on-field aspect will have to wait, likely until training camp, as the league works to put protocols in place to mitigate and prevent the spread of coronavirus while allowing teams to hold workouts and practices.