The NFL is embarking on the last week of byes for their franchises, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the two teams taking a knee this weekend.
Only the Carolina Panthers join the Bucs having the week off as both look to re-energize for the final quarter of the regular season. In Charlotte it looks like they’re four weeks from full-blown draft and free-agency preparation, while Tampa is looking forward to football in January for the first time, in a long time.
We won’t have a game to cover, so let’s instead take a different angle on the best and worst parts of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ bye week.
FAN-SCOUTING AT ITS BEST
More and more these days everyone is an expert. We all know better decisions, game plans, and play-calls than the team we’re focusing on. In fact, this trend has also inspired many to put on our scouting hats to project what future opponents have to bring when the time comes.
The problem with this is the probability of future opponents playing at the same times as our favorite teams. Well, the bye week gets rid of the conflict and allows all would-be scouts the opportunity to watch future opponents in real-time without worrying about potential scheduling issues.
This week, the Minnestoa Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and Detroit Lions are all in action. All three play at 1pm ET with Tampa Bay’s Week 14 opponent playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Minnesota.
If there’s a conflict it’s going to be which future opponent to watch as the Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints in another big NFC South contest, and the Detroit Lions travel to Chicago to face Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears.
TIME TO HEAL
This is from the files of Captain Obvious, but it’s important nonetheless. Being healthy is always important in the NFL. Staying healthy is perhaps the biggest challenge outside of the eleven opponents standing on the field of play.
For the Buccaneers, there are two injuries they just can’t get over. O.J. Howard and Vita Vea are two huge contributors lost for the year. However, there are hurt and injured players who could get back on the field, or stay on the field in better condition thanks to this late bye.
Mike Evans hasn’t been fully healthy all year long, but his health seems to have approved over the past few weeks, even if the team hasn’t converted that into wins.
Chris Godwin has played in four-straight games after playing in just four of the first eight games in 2020. Most recently the star receiver had surgery to repair a broken finger suffered in Week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
While he’s been playing with the injury well, a week to take the pressure and impact off the wounded digit is sure to benefit Godwin, and the Bucs as they make the final run towards the post-season.
Scotty Miller, Ali Marpet, and Jamel Dean are just three more significant players on Tampa Bay’s roster who will be looking forward to getting a free weekend to heal as well.
Of course, nobody is free of bumps and bruises at this point in the season, but the time off and time to recover for a week can do wonders. So every member of the Bucs roster is benefiting, even if not from specific injuries which have held them out previously.
TIME FOR SELF-SCOUTING
There are a bunch of people in and around the Buccaneers organization who are talking about the need for this team to self-scout and identify areas in need of improving.
Whether its game planning, play-calling, or use of personnel, there’s a good amount to talk about, and a bye week this late gives the coaches on the team plenty of material to comb through when deciding the path moving forward.
Why is Ronald Jones II getting used so little, and is it really the best decision to keep using Leonard Fournette in his currently engrained roll? Is there another way to improve pass coverage as the Bucs’ pass rush continues to be one of the best in the league? Is the current system for scripting and calling plays in need of tweaking?
Again, going back to the first section here, we all feel like we know the answer. Its on the coaches in the building to find the actual answers though, and the time off gives them the opportunity to do so.
TIME FOR REFLECTION - OR DWELLING
I almost entered this in as one of the bests as the time off gives everyone - fans included - time to re-commit as they spend their weekend wishing Bucs football was actively happening.
This positive impact typically would get everyone ready for a very winnable final stretch of the season, and help bring some energy from the outside-in. However, coming off of two losses, the bye week also gives the opportunity for all to dwell on the negative.
As we get closer and closer to the weekend, Buccaneers chat seems to center more and more on the shortcomings and negatives, and less on the positives.
This is human nature of course, as we all tend to allow the negative the chance to drive the car more than the positive.
So, for those reasons, this time to dwell on what’s happening with the Bucs may not be such a good thing after all.
What if the Buccaneers bye week had come in Week 5? Bruce Arians himself said Mike Evans and Scotty Miller shouldn’t have been playing in the game against the Chicago Bears, and really only did so because - well - they have to field a team.
The offense was so stricken with injuries at the time, they had to put every player who could stand and run at all on the field to make it a competition.
Still, this doesn’t take away from the fact the team could have and really should have beaten the Bears. It does make you think though. If the Bucs had Week 5 off, and the Bears game was played in Week 6, followed by Green Bay in Week 7, and so on. How much different is this season?
Maybe not at all. Maybe the Bucs beat the Bears with healthier Evans. Godwin played in Week 6, so it’s reasonable to think he’d have been there for the Bears game as well. The biggest impact though: Maybe Vita Vea doesn’t tear his achilles.
Different circumstances yield different results, and the possibilities are endless on the positive and negative sides, to be honest.
Trying to chase them all down would make someone insane, and there’s no way to quantify any claims. But still. What if....?
FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPLICATIONS
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t exactly been a basin for fantasy football points this season. They’ve been a hit or miss group of options, but still, there have been some good ones. Those fighting for fantasy playoff positions are going to miss some of their Bucs contributors as the team takes their week off.
Of course, you can turn to Bucs Nation’s own Jason Curtis and James Yarcho for advice on how to fill in, and perhaps turn the absence of Tom Brady, Ronald Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski into positives with some well timed streaming picks.
This will wrap up our best and worst of the bye week. As always, vote for THE best and worst, and hit the comments to add to the list with your own takes.
What is THE BEST part of the bye week?
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What is THE WORST part of the bye week?
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Reflecting - and Dwelling
Fantasy Football Impacts