ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio met with the players at the start of training camp this summer, he warned them 2020 would "be an improvise-and-adjust season." Less than four months later, the Broncos are improvising and adjusting plenty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Broncos were notified Sunday morning that their game Monday afternoon against the New England Patriots was going to be postponed until next Sunday (Oct. 18) because of an additional positive COVID-19 test this weekend for a Patriots player. The Patriots had closed their team facility three days this past week because of multiple positive tests, including quarterback Cam Newton's.
As a result of moving the Patriots-Broncos game, the NFL several schedule changes later Sunday:
Broncos at Patriots: The game will be played in Week 6 on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET.
Jets at Los Angeles Chargers: The Week 6 game moves to Week 11 on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chargers: The Week 8 game moves to Week 7 on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Chargers at Broncos: The Week 11 game moves to Week 8 on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Chargers at Dolphins: The Week 7 game moves to Week 10 on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Dolphins at Broncos: The Week 6 game moves to Week 11 at 4:05 p.m. ET.
It means the Broncos have now had their de facto bye week Sunday after practicing all this past week.
And because they last played the New York Jets on "Thursday Night Football," the Broncos will now have 18 days between games by the time they are scheduled to face the Patriots next weekend if there are no additional COVID-19 issues for any of the teams involved in the weeks ahead.
"My initial message to the team, all the way back in training camp, was this was gonna be an improvise-and-adjust season," Fangio said Sunday morning. "And we're being called on to improvise and adjust, and we'll do that. ... I'm fully prepared to react and improvise, no matter what happens. And in a weird way, I'm kind of happy to see some of this stuff happen. Because you see who the whiners are, who the b----ers are, and who can't handle adversity. And I'm going to try hard that the Denver Broncos don't fall into any of those categories.''
The Broncos had practiced Saturday afternoon and were preparing to board their team charter Sunday after their daily COVID-19 testing and a brief walk-through when they got the news of the postponement.
Fangio was still adjusting the team's schedule for the upcoming week Sunday morning, but it is expected he will try to give the players an additional off day if possible.
The Broncos have had just one player on the reserve/COVID-19 list this season and that was in training camp -- tight end/fullback Andrew Beck -- just after the players reported in July. They have not had to move any players due to positive tests or contact tracing to the list since.
While some Broncos players have publicly bristled about practicing for games that have been postponed because of COVID-19 issues elsewhere as well as now losing their actual bye week, Fangio said Sunday he will continue to preach the need for adaptability.
"Well, all this stuff is going to seem unfair when you're initially hit with it," Fangio said. "We've prepared for a game and the game first got moved one day, and now it's getting moved totally. So yeah, it's going to seem unfair, and you're going to ask, ‘why are we doing this?' But my message to them and to anybody is, we were inconvenienced by this, but it very easily could've been flipped around to where we had the positive test and the Patriots were inconvenienced by it.
" ... I'm happy that the positive tests weren't in our building, but I'm under no illusion that, at some point, we might have a positive test or two and be the cause of a game getting moved down the road. We're all in this together -- the entire league is. Yeah, we compete like hell on Sundays to beat each other; but ultimately, we're all in this thing together. Doesn't matter who's at fault or who had the positive test; we all just have to deal with it."