ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Head Coach Vic Fangio addressed the Broncos early in training camp, he told his team that they needed to be prepared for a season that would require improvisation and adjustments.
On Sunday morning, the Broncos were informed of the first major adjustment of the season, as their Week 5 game against the Patriots was postponed.
"I knew it was a possibility," Fangio said Sunday. "It's just part of the COVID season here that we're playing this season, in that there's going to be adjustments that have to be made. They're going to happen late, they're going to happen when you might not be prepared. I was prepared for this. We're just going to roll with the punches and adjust."
The Broncos' game was initially shifted from Sunday, Oct. 11 to Monday, Oct. 12, but after another reported positive test surfaced in New England, the NFL informed the Broncos their game would be further postponed. Fangio said he received word of the postponement around 6:45-7 a.m. on Sunday and was aware two days ago that a further delay could be possible.
"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. It's going to seem unfair and you're going to ask why we're 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. We compete like hell on Sundays to beat each other, but ultimately we're all in this thing together. It doesn't matter who's at fault or who had the positive test, we all just have to deal with it."
Fangio said the Broncos have not received a "concrete" updated schedule, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Broncos will likely play the Patriots on Sunday, Oct. 18. Denver is scheduled to host Miami in Week 6, so playing the Patriots would have scheduling consequences. It is expected that Week 5 will now serve as Denver's bye week.
The Broncos will alter their schedule over the next several days, as the players will be off on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
"I haven't decided exactly yet how practice will be next week starting on Wednesday," Fangio said. "I'm undecided at this point. Get some more facts in hand, and by Wednesday we'll let them know."
When the Broncos do return to the practice field, Fangio said he believes his team will be able to adjust to the inconvenience of the rescheduled game.
"I … think professional athletes — and professional football players, in particular — handle adversity very well," Fangio said. "When the schedule has to change, the routine has to change. They all take a deep breath, take a sigh, analyze it and we move on it. We all do like our routines, me being one of them. Most coaches, most players like the routine. They like to know what's happening weeks in advance, but that's not going to be the case this year. I think we've all accepted that and in the long run, although it's going to be an inconvenience and rocky along the way, we'll all be better off for it."
And while a few Broncos players expressed their disappointment and frustration on Twitter — largely in reaction to the Broncos' shifted bye week — Fangio said he's been impressed with the way his team has handled the challenges of playing a season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think our players have done great," Fangio said. "They've been cooperative. It's been an inconvenience for everybody, and sometimes what we're asking them to do or what not to do seems trivial and seems unnecessary, but when you're dealing with what we're dealing with, you have to go to those extremes. Those guys have accepted and moved on and — knock on wood — up to this point we've been free of the virus in this building. There's no guarantee that we'll be able to keep that streak going, but we're going to try like hell to."