Time is precious in the NFL, especially during the season. For players, every minute is meticulously planned out to maximize the league-allotted time in either practice, meetings or workouts. With the Buccaneers on their bye this week, it is mandated that players receive at least five consecutive days off to rest and recover. It's much deserved and much needed with a quarter of the season already over. Oh yeah, you read that right, a quarter of the NFL season is already over and we're in October. So, while having a bye during Week Five may seem a little early, when you consider the fact that players went through an additional six weeks of training camp before the season even started, having a week off right now isn't the worst thing in the world.
"You have to give the players five days off," Head Coach Dirk Koetter noted as he went on to detail the team's schedule over the next few days. "We had already planned to give them six, so the players are going to be off starting [Tuesday] and then we'll have an extra practice on Monday and then players normal day off on Tuesday and then a normal practice. [Monday] was a normal day after the game for the players. We'll get one extra practice into Atlanta and they get one extra day off and I think that's how most teams in the league do it. That's how we've done it since I've been a coach here."
While NFL rules and regulations dictate what players can do and when they can do it, the same cannot be said for the team's orchestrators, otherwise known as the coaches. Most nights during the season, while the rest of AdventHealth Training Center is cloaked in darkness, you'll notice a few lights still on well into the night. Those would be the coaching offices and with no regulatory stipulations saying the coaches need a set amount of time off or when they have to go home, they simply don't.
Typically, the coaching staff will get into the building by 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. each day and when they leave varies, but it's nearly always well past business hours. When players are in the building, days are filled with meetings and evaluations in addition to practice and workouts. When players aren't around, coaches spend their days game-planning for the next opponent, or in the case of the bye week, evaluating each individual unit thus far in the season. That ends up translating into more office hours and less time off than the men on the field.
"Our coaches will get a couple of days off at the end of the week," Coach Koetter said. "What we do in every bye week is a self-scout project. Every coach has different areas to break down and then we do presentations and go over them. We'll go over every aspect of our scheme and also go over our personnel."
Following a lopsided loss against the Bears in Chicago this past weekend, the team will be going into their bye with a bad taste in their mouths. There's an unwritten 24-hour rule in the NFL, you never dwell on the prior game for longer than 24 hours, whether a win or a loss. In reality, there isn't time as preparations for the next opponent need to begin almost immediately. To help move the team past the loss, Coach Koetter addressed the team on Monday, bringing a Bill Parcells quote along with him.
"Your record is what your record is."
It's simple. Some losses are worse than others, some wins are tougher than others, but NFL records don't reflect that and right now, the Bucs are sitting at 2-2.
"We're probably not as bad as people thought," Coach Koetter said. "But not the way you want to go into your bye week. We've got two weeks to get ready for the Falcons when the players will be back in another week and we'll get after it."
These extra few days the coaches are spending in the office will ensure the players come back ready to 'get after it' as well. In addition to getting a longer look at their Week Six opponent and taking an introspective look at the team, coaches will also be taking a rare outside look at other teams across the league. With games on Sundays and weeks filled with opponent film study, coaches rarely get a chance to take a look at what other teams are doing in-season. The bye week provides that opportunity and from what Coach Koetter has said, the Bucs plan to take advantage of it.
"Another thing this bye week does – especially with only four games so far – in that sense it's good because you can go out and study what other teams are doing well," Coach Koetter said. "Let's face it, this is a trendy league. You can study what other teams are having success in certain areas. Who is doing the best on third down? Best in the red zone? For example, is there something they're doing that we can incorporate? That'll take us most of the next three days then like I said, we're going to get a couple days off, but we'll also be getting a jump on Atlanta."