“It’s a part of the NFL rules to take this week," said David on Monday, after his team absorbed a tough loss to the Arizona Cardinals to fall to 0-4. "I just love playing football and if we had to play this week we would play. It’s just like I said, you’ve got to take advantage of it, and they gave it to us so we got to take advantage of it. And the position we’re in now, it could help us in the long run.”
Perhaps if the Bucs had held on to their fourth-quarter lead on Sunday, they could've enjoyed the bye more in the afterglow of a victory. One gets the impression that players like David would prefer to get back on the field as quickly as possible in order to turn the team's fortunes around, but they'll have to settle for the incremental gains a team can make during its bye. For banged-up players such as tight end
“It gives us a chance to just work on the little things, that’s the most important thing," said cornerback
Statistically, at least, the Buccaneers' defense had better results in September. The Bucs rank 12th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and eighth in points allowed, allowing a total of just five touchdowns in four games. But three of the four losses have slipped away in the closing minutes, so it's difficult for Buccaneer defenders to feel like they've put together a complete performance yet.
“Even though we played well, there are something’s things we can fix," said David. "[The bye week] just gives us time to go back and work on our fundamentals and fix the basic things that we, sometimes, had messed up on. This week is a week that we can take advantage of that.”
In addition to the extra time on the field, the more relaxed schedule for the next week gives the coaches more of an opportunity to examine the game tape from the first four weeks and pinpoint the issues that have made the difference between winning and losing.
“Certainly we’re going to examine, schematically, in the first four games, is there a common thread in our failure to do our job?" said Head Coach Greg Schiano. "Then we’ll look at, [are] there other things that we can develop? Personnel changes occur, so then that allows you to develop some things and to maybe downgrade some other aspects. It’s definitely a fluid process. Weeks like this week give you a chance to really sit back and contemplate what’s best because you don’t have an opponent you’re getting ready for.”
And then, of course, there is that relatively short bit of free time from Thursday to Sunday, which may actually feel like an eternity for players who spend five or six months on such a tight, repetitive schedule. If that gives the injured players more time to heal, it also gives everybody on the roster a chance to restore a little mental health, too.“I think it gives us a chance to go clear everything out; all the negative things that have been going around that people have been saying," said David. "It gives us a little bit of time to clear our heads and regroup, comeback. We have a 12-game stretch after this. [We'll] come back, regroup and be ready for that 12-game stretch.”