Washington head coach Ron Rivera has a plan if he or any of his assistanct coaches contract the novel coronavirus during the ongoing pandemic. It's one that makes sense after Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss practice time as a result.
"We’ve talked about that as far as those things are concerned, the big thing is somebody will move up in terms of those," Rivera said about a coach testing positive. "We are fortunate, as in today’s game, that pretty much every position has a position assistant and they are younger coaches that have come in and are getting opportunities to learn and develop their craft. What may happen, depending on who gets sick, that person (position assistant) will elevate."
Rivera's plan for missed time from coaches is smart because the virus is everywhere, but what's the plan at the game's most important position?
The Burgundy and Gold find themselves in an interesting spot at quarterback.
Presumed starter Dwayne Haskins looks to be poised for Week 1, healthy and slim and hearing great things about himself from coaches. Kyle Allen is positioned to be the backup, a capable player who knows the offensive system. Should Haskins get injured or disappoint, Allen can step in.
That leaves Alex Smith.
The veteran passer is in the midst of a Hollywood comeback story. He suffered a compound fracture of his leg about 20 months ago, and after multiple infections and more than a dozen surgeries, is fighting his way back to the football field. He's passed his medical physical, but not his football physical, and has been listed on Washington's Active/Physically Unable to Play list. That means he's not able to participate in team drills but he can work out at the facility and take full part in meetings and film sessions.
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Smith's status could change at any moment, if he can pass the football physical.
It's unclear if that will ever happen, but it could also present an opportunity.
With Haskins and Allen playing maybe Washington would be wise to shut Smith down and have him in some form of isolation working out on his own.
What happens if COVID-19 sweeps the Washington locker room, or even just the QB room, and suddenly there is nobody to line up under center? Then Smith could become the best option.
It's a long-shot, maybe even ludicrous idea, but everything going on right now is some version of ludicrous.
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Nobody could have predicted any of this a year ago, and the suggestion of bubbles and quarantines and contact tracing would have sounded like something from a science fiction movie.
Well, now we're living in a science fiction movie. Accept the weird and try to roll with it.
The teams that will excel this fall will do so because of adaptability and preparedness. There is zero guarantee that a quarantine QB makes sense, and even less confidence that he would play. But there's also zero guarantee Smith will ever pass the football physical and be able to play anyway.
In the 1987 season Washington went 3-0 during that year's NFL players' strike, largely because the front office was prepared for the work stoppage and quickly built a team of replacement players. That winning streak propelled the team to a Super Bowl win.
It happened because Washington acted smart, saw what possibly could happen with a player strike and executed a backup plan at a high level.
Word is history repeats itself, and while there should be labor peace this fall, if 2020 has proven anything it's that whatever can go wrong will. Plan accordingly.
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