The NFL season has gotten off to a rocky start, with COVID-19 outbreaks among teams causing games to be rescheduled. As four Penn alumni navigate their way through this unprecedented NFL season, we take a look at how they are doing in Week 5.
Kevin Stefanski — coach, Cleveland Browns
After many years of searching, the Browns may have found their coach in Kevin Stefanski. For the first time since 1994, when they were led by current New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the Browns are 4-1. Over a three year period from 2015 to 2017, the Browns won a total of four games.
In Week 5, Stefanski and the Browns faced a 3-1 Indianapolis Colts team that came in ranked No. 1 in the league in yards allowed per game. They did so without star running back Nick Chubb. For the fourth straight week, Cleveland emerged victorious, and for the fourth straight week, Stefanski's Browns scored more than 30 points, something they haven’t done since 1968. While the season may be young, and many unknowns remain, the Browns are looking very promising under Stefanski.
“I think we have a ways to go. Obviously, we are in this to win it. We know that every week we are trying to win these games, and they are going to be hard. I think we are thinking about the next one,” Stefanski said. “We will celebrate this one for a few hours here, but the challenge is coming next week, which is how this NFL comes at you every single week. I think our guys understand the focus has to really be week-to-week, but we will celebrate this one first.”
Justin Watson — wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has been an up and down season for Justin Watson. After starting the season as the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart, Watson has been able to find his way onto the starting lineup due to an injury to fellow teammate Chris Godwin. However, Watson has been battling injuries of his own, sitting out in Week 2 due to a shoulder injury. In Week 5, Watson was sidelined again during Thursday Night Football due to a chest injury. The former Quaker will look to suit up in Week 6 when the Buccaneers face the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Brandon Copeland — outside linebacker, New England Patriots
Like Watson, Brandon Copeland was unable to play this weekend, but for a much different reason. After four players on the Patriots tested positive for COVID-19 before New England’s game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the NFL postponed their matchup to Week 6. Copeland, who has 11 total tackles so far this season, will look to get back on track next week.
Greg Van Roten — guard, New York Jets
It has been a tough start to the season for former Quaker Greg Van Roten and the rest of the New York Jets. As one of only three teams without a win, the Jets did not have quarterback Sam Darnold due to injury, so Van Roten blocked for former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, whose father was a running back at Penn. Despite running back Le'Veon Bell returning from injured reserve, the Jets were blown out by the Arizona Cardinals, 30-10. The only positive for Van Roten and the Jets is that, seemingly, things can't get any worse from here.