football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

How Did No Offseason Effect Ever-Changing NFL Rosters?

  • The Draft Network
  • January 26, 2021
  • Share

The novel coronavirus has rocked every aspect of the free world, ultimately changing the way we live our lives. This has translated into the NFL, and sports as a whole, with major North-American sports leagues (including the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, and NHL) going a season without fans in attendance. Prior to the 2020 NFL season, questions arose if there was going to be a season at all. The NFL was the last of the sports leagues to kick-off any type of workouts, or minicamps, let alone games with proper precautions in place to help contain the spread of COVID-19. 

However, we are now just two weeks from Super Bowl Sunday. How did we get here? And, is there any notable correlation surrounding the league’s successful and unsuccessful teams during this unique year with zero offseason? You’ll be surprised. 

In a league littered with proven veterans sprinkled with the often criticized talent of first- and second-year players, the dynamic entering the 2020 season was often a topic of Zoom meetings—not water-coolers—across the nation. How would teams adjust rookie camp? When are veterans able to report? As early summer approached, at times, it seemed the NFL emulated your local 7-on-7 pick-up league. Rules were scattered, players were scarce and teams needed answers. Facilities were barren, practices were held virtually, and rookie quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa were tasked with learning an NFL offense via offensive install on a tablet. The season has been unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and it has yet to provide a conclusion.

In just under two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs, again, will appear in the Super Bowl, matching up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady, who, again, will look to return to NFL glory, earning his record seventh Vince Lombardi trophy. 

And with that, comes discussion when shining the spotlight on each franchise’s respective rosters. 

The leaders of Kansas City’s “Run It Back” campaign, in search of the franchise’s second-consecutive title, are all returners from its Super Bowl 54 victory in 2020. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, center Austin Reiter, guard Nick Allegretti, and wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman fill out the high-octane offense. While safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Bashaud Breeland star in the defense; all are back under head coach Andy Reid and will suit up against the Buccaneers. Now, it helps to have one of the world’s top talents—no matter the sport—under center, but due to Kansas City’s limited roster turnover, the immediate effects of the coronavirus were not felt by Reid’s unit simply due to cohesion within the roster. 

A more vivid look under the microscope when relating success to roster turnover requires a look no further than at head coach.

Among the five new head bench-bosses in the NFL this season, just two—Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns) and Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team)—led their team to the playoffs. Stefanski represented an incredible outlier comparing his 12-6 record to the others, as he also was the only coach to lead his team to an overall season record over .500. The New York Giants (Joe Judge), Carolina Panthers (Matt Rhule), Dallas Cowboys (Mike McCarthy), and Washington (Rivera) finished a combined 24-41 (.369) in their debut campaign. 

Reciprocally, 2019 hires Arians (Buccaneers), Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins), Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals), Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers), Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos), and Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals) as a whole, found more success in their rookie seasons as head coach finishing 39-56 (.410). Certain coaching and roster alignments are different than others, and many changes have been made to each labeled roster. But minicamp, organized team activities, and training camp represent a massive chunk of time missed for player development in 2020 that simply could not be made up. 

Age was also a factor when focusing on this year’s playoff teams. Of the eight teams that qualified for the divisional round, just three teams (Rams, Packers, and Browns) were listed in the top half of the NFL’s youngest rosters as of cut day in September. Kansas City (16th oldest), the Baltimore Ravens (20), Buffalo Bills (23), Tampa Bay (26), and New Orleans Saints (30) all were rosters layered with youth on a foundation of veteran leadership. 

Like anything, time causes us to forgive and forget. COVID-19 caused the NFL to shapeshift its ultimate structure of a typical offseason. When looking at rosters of cohesion, veteran presence, and stability at head coach, it was clear this year’s best of the best came from organizations touting those individual commodities. 

As we move forward into next fall, only time will tell if we’ll return to any sort of pre-pandemic normalcy surrounding the game of football. But for starters, be thankful we’re here, Super Bowl Sunday is just 13 days away. 

Filed In

Written By

The Draft Network