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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2023 Schedule Point-Counterpoint: One Thing to Change

Brianna Dix and Scott Smith have been granted the hypothetical power to alter the Buccaneers' 2023 schedule in or two ways, and their plans involve bye weeks and rookie QBs

Stroud Anderson

The NFL revealed its entire 2023 game schedule last Thursday, as planned. After years of dropping the schedule in mid-April, the league moved that event – basically in order to make it more of an event – to May, after the draft. It is now another offseason NFL tentpole, along with the Combine, the league meetings, the draft and the start of training camp.

Early last week, however, there were reports by some very prominent national analysts that the NFL was considering postponing the schedule drop because they were still resolving some issues. That underscores how complicated the process of laying out these 272 games over 18 weeks truly is. League schedule-makers have known which teams were playing each other since the moment the 2022 regular season ended, but it still more than four months to work out the kinks.

All of which is to say, we probably shouldn't complain about any little quirk or inconvenience we perceive there to be on the schedule for our favorite team, in this case the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However you arrange them, the Buccaneers were going to play the same 17 opponents between September 10 and January 7.

So our purpose here today as we wrap our five part Point-Counterpoint series about the Buccaneers' 2023 schedule is not to lodge any complaints. Staff Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix and I are simply making some observations. We're looking at a couple places on the schedule where, if we had our druthers and the power to act on them, we might make a change. Just to make things a little bit better for our team, you know?

This is the last in our week-long series of schedule-related debates. Here's the run-down for the whole series:

Friday, May 12: What one thing would you most like to thank the NFL schedule makers for this year?

Monday, May 15 What is the toughest stretch of games on this year's schedule?

Tuesday, May 16 What is your most anticipated game on the Bucs' 2023 schedule?

Wednesday, May 17: Who is the top rookie the Buccaneers will face on their 2022 schedule?

Thursday, May 18: What is one thing you would change about the Bucs' schedule if you had the power?

Brianna and I are not going to duplicate answers, so the order of our debate is important. I went first yesterday so my colleague is back in the pole position for our last debate. So tell us what you would change, Brianna.

Brianna Dix: A Later Bye Week

If I had magical powers and could change one thing about the Buccaneers 17-game slate, it would be to have a later bye week in the schedule. An ideal scenario would be to have the bye sandwiched in the middle of the season to give the team a much-needed period of rest. Instead, Tampa Bay will have their bye in Week Five, following a road game in New Orleans on October 1st. A bye in the latter half of the season would also benefit the Bucs from an injury standpoint, allowing players who are dinged up with ailments to have time to heal during the allotted intermission week.

The Bucs will be on the road six times from Week 8-Week 15, marking only the third-such occurrence in team history. Travel takes a toll on every team and a bye week amidst the gauntlet would have been an optimal situation for Tampa Bay, perhaps after the Week Nine matchup at Houston or the Week 12 clash at Indianapolis. With an early bye, the Bucs will have a grueling 13-game stretch after with no break. Tampa Bay had a Week 11 bye last season, marking just the third time in team history that the Bucs drew a bye in Week 11 or later. The team's premature bye in 2023 will feel more like an oddly-placed interruption than a rejuvenation period. Scott, what is one thing you would change?

Scott Smith: Carolina and Houston games earlier in the season

That is the correct answer, Brianna, and had I been first in today's order I would have felt obligated to write the same thing. However, I'm kind of glad I'm second so I can try to come up with a less obvious issue to fix.

In fact, I'll make you a deal, Bri: I'll swap out the Week 13 home game against the Panthers with the bye in Week Five. I'd also like to move up the road game against Houston, maybe swapping it with the Week Two home game against Chicago. Both of those moves would also help break up that aforementioned six-road-games-in-eight weeks thing. I'll stop before I get too greedy and leave the Week 18 contest at Carolina where it is.

What's the point of all this? Well, I am of the opinion that both Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, the first two picks in this year's draft, will open the season as the starting quarterbacks for their new teams. That's Young with the Panthers and Stroud with the Texans; both are extremely talented players and are likely to become quality starters in the NFL, perhaps sooner than later. But I'd rather bet on "later" and play them both "sooner," if possible. It's a lot to ask of a rookie passer, no matter how talented he is, to play at a high level in his first month or so in the league.

What you're hoping for, if you are playing against a first-round rookie quarterback, is that you get him while he's still experiencing some growing pains. The good ones will learn from their mistakes, but I'd rather be the team that induces those mistakes than the one who gets the wiser version of a quarterback a couple of months later.

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