The Denver Broncos are set to play a game in which they don’t have a proper quarterback playing the quarterback position. the Baltimore Ravens, if Tuesday’s game is played, will be playing with as few as just three true defensive linemen, including one who is on the practice squad (though nose tackle Brandon Williams, provided that he doesn’t test positive, is eligible to be back in time).
As a reminder, the key words here are playing a game. The Broncos and Ravens are going to be playing these games, provided that there are no further extreme setbacks, in spite of the extreme lack of availability of talent at certain positions.
This is something that I endeavored to explain a couple of days ago after the Ravens had quarterback Lamar Jackson test positive for Covid-19, pointing out that the NFL has already allowed games to be played with a starting quarterback sidelined in a week in which a team had multiple tests.
Specific players, and the numbers of players at specific groups, do not qualify as sufficient reasons for the cancellation of games in and of themselves. As long as a team is capable of fielding enough players to play a game, barring concerns about virus spread, they are still required to play those games, no matter how much of a burden it is. It’s literally written in a key memo sent out to teams a month and a half ago.
Medical considerations and government directives will be paramount in determining when a game should be postponed. In light of the substantial additional roster flexibility in place for this season, absent medical considerations, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group. (emphasis mine)
Here’s why Sunday’s Saints-Broncos game is on: Language in here about not postponing games due to Covid and position groups. It was discussed at the fall league meeting, and this memo was sent to all 32 teams at its conclusion: pic.twitter.com/K8CRzBF7c0
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 29, 2020
There it is in black and white, in case anybody was still questioning it. Lamar Jackson getting the coronavirus in and of itself doesn’t matter in terms of when a Baltimore Ravens game is going to be played. The Denver Broncos not even having a quarterbacks won’t prevent a game from being played.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an argument to be made against playing these games under these conditions. If you don’t have enough players to play an important role in a game, then one could certainly posit that it poses a legitimate safety risk. For example, if you have to have two non-offensive linemen play along the offensive line, they are probably more likely to be injured, possibly even to injure others, due to their unfamiliarity with their responsibilities.