A team with Bruce Arians at head coach has never lost three consecutive games. The Bucs are bearing that tendency in mind as they come off their bye week to face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville this weekend. The good news for Arians is, the Bucs have won following their bye week (counting that weird Week One bye in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma) twice in the last three years, toeing the line of recent ‘tendencies,’ if you will.
If you look at the Arizona Cardinals under Arians coming out of a bye, they had a tendency to win their following game – emerging victorious four of the five years Arians was head coach. Paying attention to 2013 in particular, Arians’ first year as head coach, the Cardinals went 6-2 the second half of the season after going 4-4 in the first half, starting with a win coming out of the bye.
That’s not all by coincidence, either. Arians said Tuesday in his first media availability in over a week that the staff has done quite a bit of evaluation this past week, as his staffs do each year.
"I don’t like the word ‘Analytics’ – I like to still call it self-scout,” Arians said. “It’s something that you do very strongly that week, and look at the success rate from everything – from each formation to each personnel group – everything good, bad, ugly – and hopefully get rid of the ugly and get more good.”
Of course, that’s putting it pretty simplistically. It should be mentioned too that this is the first half of the first season for players in Bruce Arians’ offensive system. It’s the first half of the first season for players in Todd Bowles’ defensive system. Given the drastic shifts in scheme, especially on the defensive side of the ball, tweaks can not only be expected – but are necessary.
"Without giving away game plan stuff, it’s moving certain people around,” Arians said on what the team evaluated, specifically. “The biggest thing about self-scouting is finding your tendencies throughout the season and seeing if you can make them to your advantage [on] both sides of the ball. But, [there were] no major changes.”
There’s that word again. Tendencies. While there have been detrimental tendencies on both sides of the ball this season, there have been some good ones, too. The tendency to stop the run on the part of the defense comes to mind, first. The Bucs are allowing just 2.89 yards per carry on the ground and are holding opponents to a league-low 68 total rushing yards per game. Offensively, the tendency of the ball to end up in Chris Godwin’s hands has been extremely beneficial. Godwin leads the league in receiving touchdowns, tied with Minnesota’s Adam Thielen with six, and still ranks second in receiving yards, even after the bye week, with 662. Every other player in the top five has played seven games versus Godwin’s six.
Now, going into a Week Eight contest with the Tennessee Titans, the Bucs will be looking to build on those positive tendencies while minimizing the detrimental ones.
“[It was a] good start to the week. It’s always fun when you tell the guys to have a glorified walkthrough and they’re running around full speed – that’s always a good sign,” Arians said following Tuesday’s bonus practice. “[The Titans are a] heck of an opponent. This team is probably the most physical team we’ve faced all year on both lines of scrimmage, and it will be a heck of a challenge.”