Covid-19 has dramatically impacted this preseason and I am not talking about just the loss of preseason games. The result of this truncated preparation is that younger players and rookies have had far fewer reps getting ready for the season. This may show up glaringly in some not-so-special special teams play.
When final cuts are made and rosters are finalized the players that are not starters are most often expected to contribute on special teams. Fewer reps and less special teams practice should make kick off, and especially punt coverage, challenging. The first part of the year is likely to feature sloppy special teams play all around as rookies acclimate to the NFL and young players scramble to perform after fewer reps in camp.
This may be an advantage to the Buccaneers, and this isn’t just wishful thinking. It’s pretty solid logic. Teams will want to protect their more experienced, veteran players so there may even be more youth than usual on special teams units.
A Bit Of An Advantage
The Buccaneers have the largest coaching staff in the NFL. They often have multiple fields of reps happening at the same time. Most coaching staffs are smaller and coaches can’t be in more than one place at a time. Bruce Arians has established the large staff for this exact purpose. While he is on one practice field watching the starters run through their reps there is an entire separate staff on another field working with other players. This gives the Buccaneers a greater ability to see the real skill level of young players. Some might have otherwise gotten lost in the shuffle.
Special teams will suffer for every team. Arians lamented the fact that the rookies have lost over 400 reps thanks to the corona scourge. The fact is that other teams have lost even more. They have smaller coaching staffs and fewer opportunity to give reps to each player.
Every team will suffer with special teams. While the Buccaneers can navigate this situation with more reps than other teams the time lost can’t be completely made up. This will make special teams a potential fiasco, especially in the first few weeks of the season.
We don’t know how this season is going to play out. We do know that this season will be like none other. The potential for this may be more evident with the young players contributing to special teams. They may be not so special after all. At least thats how I see it From The Cheap Seats.