The Pittsburgh Steelers were done no favors by the happenings around the NFL in terms of the coronavirus this year. The two times this season that they would have had an opportunity to get a planned extended break from football were taken from them because the games for which they were preparing had to be postponed.
As a byproduct of that, they have had no planned breaks. Their bye week was moved up to week four only after several days of preparation and practice for the Tennessee Titans, and they immediately had to shift to playing the Philadelphia Eagles instead. More recently, a Thursday game against the Baltimore Ravens was postponed three times for a total of six days, during which they didn’t know when they would be practicing, and which forced them to play on a short week the week after.
“Once we had our bye week after week four, I pretty much told myself it is what it is at that point”, said veteran Minkah Fitzpatrick about losing their break time. “It was gonna be tough toward the last stretch of the season. But it is what it is. Obviously your body’s feeling it, and you are mentally tired, but I’m not gonna sit here and complain about not having a bye. It’s not going to really do too much”.
With the Steelers having little to gain by going all out to win in the season finale on Sunday, they are expected to rest or limit a number of prominent players, though there has been no word on whether or not Fitzpatrick might be among those whose workload might be limited. Nevertheless, he isn’t so concerned about himself.
“I feel better than I did at this point last year, honestly”, he said, noting that he has progressed in his understanding of maintaining himself off the field. “I also have been taking better care of my body, just my program, my out-of-the-building program has been better”.
“I think it’s exactly what I said. I just told myself that it is what it is, and at that point you just have to move forward”, he added. “We know what the situation was, and I know personally that complaining about it isn’t gonna make it no better. So just try to move forward and take it one day at a time”.
Starting this season, there is only one playoff bye week per conference, reserved for the top seeds. The Steelers are locked into the third seed as a floor, but could earn the second seed with a win over the Cleveland Browns and a loss by the Buffalo Bills to the Miami Dolphins.
Since you don’t earn a bye by getting the second seed,, however, Pittsburgh is choosing to use this opportunity to try to get some key players some time off, just getting their people into the postseason healthy. I have to say, it’s hard to blame them. A bit of a way to get back what they lost, if partially.