In particular, Riley explored how the sport is feeling the pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, which manifested itself in a variety of changes to the sport’s typical schedule and has had some clear impacts on the game now that play is underway.
Anecdotally, Riley said the first two weeks of the 2020-21 NFL season seemed to have more injuries, especially to big-name athletes, than previous seasons. Could that have been because of a drastically altered offseason in the wake of the pandemic, which included a complete lack of preseason games and teams that often didn’t engage in contact drills during training camp?
The numbers seem to bear out this year’s unprecedented injury rate. The only comparable season in recent memory was the 2011-12 campaign, which dealt with a lockout and saw a dozen ruptured Achilles tendons in the first 29 days after the lockout ended.
All this disruption will also lead to an unquestionably strange NFL Draft, as scouting travel, college schedules and more have all been impacted. However, Riley said, there’s plenty of data to be had – if you know where to look.