Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Out of the Bye

The Bucs’ post-bye week started slow, with inclement weather washing out a Monday morning practice, but the team is adept at coming out of the break strong

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Head Coach Jon Gruden, who got two extra practices in with the team last week, has had his teams well-prepared after bye weeks

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had planned to use Monday as a "bonus day" to prepare for the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, Buccaneer players got one more day of rest following a relaxing bye weekend. The team canceled its practice on Monday morning and will not hit the field again until Wednesday afternoon.

Severe weather caused by the fringes of Hurricane Wilma hit the Bay area overnight and continued on into Monday morning. On a day when local schools and many businesses were closed, the Bucs actually came to work bright and early. However, after a round of positional meetings, and with the already soggy One Buccaneer Place practice fields still taking a beating, the planned one-hour workout was deleted from the schedule. The players are also off Tuesday, as with any week during the season.

The players should return to the practice field quite refreshed on Wednesday. The team last took the field on Thursday for an hour-long session and has had to spend very little time at the office since beating Miami, 27-13, on October 16. Of course, those players nursing injuries have visited for rehab sessions, and the Bucs hope they'll once again have the services of running back Carnell Williams, safety Jermaine Phillips and several others when practices resume.

Of course, the Bucs hope to come out of the bye week both rested and focused. The Bucs looked strong going into the off week – their 5-1 record matches the best start in franchise history and is the top mark in the NFC – and want to maintain that momentum after the lull. Head Coach Jon Gruden, who devised the bye week schedule has proved quite good at shepherding his teams through the break, as evidenced by his 6-1 mark as a head coach in games following a bye.

What should help the Buccaneers is that drubbing of Miami just before the break. It certainly gave the players a positive set of memories to enjoy during their down time. Gruden's Buccaneers have won their game before the bye week in each of his four seasons at the helm, and they came out of the break with wins two of the first three times. The exception was a last-second, 38-35 loss to Indianapolis in 2003.

Indeed, even before Gruden's arrival, during a period in which the Bucs routinely struggled following the bye week, results were generally better when the team went into the bye with a victory.

The NFL started including bye weeks in the schedule in 1990 and had two on the slate in 1993. Overall, that means 16 post-bye games for the Bucs coming into 2005. Even with their success under Gruden, the Bucs are 6-10 in that situation, including a six-game losing streak in the early '90s. However, on the six occasions during that span in which Tampa Bay won before the bye week, they went 4-2 after the bye. (The 2001 season, in which the Bucs' pre-bye week game against Philadelphia on September 16 was cancelled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is not included.)

One note of caution: The Bucs have had to go on the road only six times following the bye week and only once in the last nine years. The team is 0-6 trying to win on the road after a bye.

Of course, Gruden and his coaching staff would find that last note about as meaningful as the old notion that the Bucs couldn't win a cold-weather game or couldn't get by the Eagles in Philadelphia. Many similar trends have ended in Tampa in 2002, in large part because the current team doesn't believe they actually hold any power over it.

In their efforts to come out of the bye week with a victory at San Francisco, the Bucs will begin a normal work schedule on Wednesday, complete with a two-hour practice in the afternoon. With Wilma moving very rapidly across the state, much more accommodating weather is expected for the rest of the week. The team will practice on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and Friday morning before flying to California on Saturday morning.

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