The bye week is supposed to be good for a football team. It’s a chance for the coaches to re-evaluate and make adjustment and for the players, the injured ones in particular, to rest up and get healthy.
And most teams tend to take good advantage of that opportunity. From 2009-2015, the collective record of all NFL teams coming off the bye week was 98-81-2 for a winning percentage of 54.7.
The Buccaneers as you might have guessed have been trending in the wrong direction.
The Bucs were a combined 6-4 after the bye under coaches Jon Gruden (4-3) and Raheem Morris (2-1) but they have now lost each of the last three games they’ve played following the bye.
A quick look at the schedule ahead, though, suggests that in addition to breaking that losing streak, the Bucs might be on the brink of making a run that could propel them into the thick of the NFC playoff race.
The Bucs next four opponents are the 49ers, Raiders, Falcons and Bears and the fact the only road game out of that bunch is at San Francisco isn’t the only reason to believe a turnaround might be ahead.
All of those teams rank in the bottom third of the league in points allowed with Oakland (25th), Atlanta (27th) and San Francisco (32nd) representing three of the bottom eight.
Not only that, but San Francisco and Oakland are tied for 24th overall in the league in passing defense while Atlanta ranks 28th in that discipline and Oakland 32nd.
That suggests there’s an opportunity for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to continue the bounce back he seemed to start a week ago at Carolina after he struggled through his previous three games.
Winston had his first turnover-free game of the year in that outing against the Panthers and as far as making adjustments go, he appeared to do a good job of that during the bye last year.
Winston threw seven touchdowns and seven interceptions for a passer rating of 77.57 prior to the 2015 bye. He improved markedly afterwards, throwing 15 touchdown passes and eight interceptions for an 88.98 rating.
If Winston can show similar improvement this year the Bucs could easily take advantage of some of the weaker defenses they’re about to go up against and set themselves up for an interesting stretch run.