The New Orleans Saints' coaching staff is down to the bare bones due to a COVID-19 outbreak, but head coach Sean Payton is seeing the lighter side of things, pointing out that the situation is like something out of 'Ted Lasso'.
Only a handful of the Saints' offensive coaches, including Payton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr, quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry and offensive line coach Zach Strief, are currently available to coach the team due to a string of positive tests, mostly among the offensive coaching staff.
Six assistant coaches, one team nutritionist and star receiver Michael Thomas tested positive for COVID-19, it was reported on Tuesday. Thomas is not on the active roster, he is on the Physically Unable to Perform list, so he has been training away from the rest of the Saints team.
None of their active players are currently affected by COVID-19, but the news is hardly ideal following such an impressive start to the 2021 season. The Saints crushed the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in Jacksonville with quarterback Jameis Winton throwing a league-high five touchdown passes in Week 1.
The critically-acclaimed sports comedy drama 'Ted Lasso' follows the story of a fictional college football coach who gets appointed to a Premier League soccer club and encounters a series of unlikely, unexpected and farcical scenarios.
What impact will the Saints' COVID-19 breakout have on their Week 2 game against the Carolina Panthers?
The whole Saints team and staff are undergoing an intensive COVID-19 protocol that includes more frequent mask-wearing and daily testing for all staff, regardless of their vaccination status.
The Saints are not 100% fully vaccinated among players, although reports suggest they are close to that number. All Saints coaches are fully vaccinated. Under normal circumstances, vaccinated players are tested once per week, while unvaccinated players are tested daily.
The team continues to practice away from home at TCU in the Fort Worth/Dallas area due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. Coaches that have tested postitive are in isolation at the team hotel and are continuing to coach through Zoom meetings.
The positive tests recorded so far are not set to impact which coaches are available for the NFC South divisional clash against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. As things stand, the Week 2 encounter at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte is expected to go ahead as scheduled.