The Buccaneers and their bye weeks
For the sixteenth year in a row the Buccaneers entered an NFL Sunday with a 100% guarantee of not losing. The NFL introduced the Bye Week in 1990 and ever since all teams have gotten a week off during the course of the season to rest up, fine tune and heal.
The Buccaneers' own experience with the Bye Week has seen its share of ups and downs. There have been coaching changes, quarterback changes and even the perfection of a last-second meaningless field goal. Here then a history of the Buccaneer Bye’s and a grade on how they were utilized:
Heading into Bye: Bucs defeat Atlanta 23-17, Vinny Testaverde throws longest touchdown pass in team history, Ray Perkins is fired.
After Bye: Richard Williamson wins debut as coach against Minnesota 26-13 as Vinny runs (!) for more than 100 yards.
Bye Grade: A+ (Great use of bye, does not lead to great future)
Heading into Bye: Thanks to the fact that the Eagles had to start Vince Papale, I mean Brad Goebel, at quarterback the Bucs win 14-13 in the final moments for the first win of the season.
After Bye: Chris Chandler starts at quarterback for the Bucs and spends most of the day becoming familiar with the nap of the rug at the Superdome. Bucs lose 23-7.
Bye Grade: C- (Nice win at home, but did anyone study the playbook? Actually, considering Williamson’s offense would it have mattered if they did?)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to horrible Colts team at home 24-14 to kill momentum of 3-1 start.
After Bye: Bucs lose to mediocre Bears 31-14 to kill entire season.
Bye Grade: F+ (At least the Bucs led the Colts for a short time)
Only time the NFL gave teams two bye weeks (BAD IDEA!!!)
Heading Into First Bye: Bucs lose to New York Giants 23-7 in Craig Erickson’s first start.
After First Bye: Bucs lose to Bears 47-17 in what could have been Erickson’s last start as he is nearly decapitated on blind side sack.
Heading Into Second Bye: Bucs lose to Minnesota 15-0 in a game where even ESPN blowhard Sean Salisbury completed a pass.
After Second Bye: Bucs lose to Green Bay 37-14 in a game in which Erickson developed chemistry with receiver Horace Copeland.
Bye Grade: D- (The losses were horrible, but the Erickson-Copeland combo gives Bucs fans reason to at least watch)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Falcons 34-13. Bucs kick field goal with :04 left on clock because back-up Casey Weldon convinced Coach Sam Wyche that the team could use the practice (I swear I am not making this up).
After Bye: Bucs lose to San Francisco 41-16 in Trent Dilfer’s first start. This continues the trend of new starters not benefiting from a bye week to learn the Buccaneer offense.
Bye Grade: D (meaningless field goals were never better than during the Wyche era)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Houston 19-7 in a very boring game.
After Bye: Bucs lose to Detroit but have a great view of the back of Barry Sanders' jersey.
Bye Grade: F (not a very high GPA for the Wyche era)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Detroit 27-0 and make Scott Mitchell look like a competent NFL quarterback.
After Bye: Bucs defeat Minnesota 24-13 for Tony Dungy’s first career victory.
Bye Grade: B (shows the essence of Dungy era, the ability to bounce back from adversity)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Detroit 27-9 and people wonder if 5-0 start was a fluke.
After Bye: Bucs lose to Minnesota 10-6 and people still wonder if 5-0 start was a fluke.
Bye Grade: D (the only thing that keeps it from being an F? Wild Card baby!!!)
Heading into Bye: Bucs dominate New York Giants 20-3 and people wonder if 0-2 start was a fluke.
After Bye: Bucs defeat Carolina 16-13 and people still wonder if 0-2 start was a fluke.
Bye Grade B (the only thing that keeps if from being an A? 0-2 wasn’t a fluke)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose heartbreaking 26-23 game to Green Bay on Sunday Night Football.
After Bye: Bucs beat Bears 6-3 in a game that Trent Dilfer may remember as the beginning of the end in Tampa
Bye Grade: C (Trent started to rebound before breaking collarbone)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Minnesota 30-23 on Monday Night Football
After Bye: Bucs lose to Detroit 28-14 on Thursday Night Football.
Bye Grade: D (The Not-So-Ready-For-Primetime-Players!)
Heading into Bye: Bucs defeat Dallas 10-6 in ho-hum season opener.
After Bye: Bucs lose to Minnesota 20-16 in much-appreciated second game.
Bye Grade: I (I is for impossible to grade. Bye lasted three weeks because of something much more important than football, the 9/11 Terrorist Attack. We were just happy to have the distraction of Buccaneer football and could have cared less about wins and losses considering the broadcast had news crawls about warfare and anthrax attacks)
Heading into Bye: Bucs defeat Minnesota 38-24 as Brad Johnson becomes cult-hero.
After Bye: Bucs defeat Carolina 23-10 to start Super Bowl push.
Bye Grade: A+ (I will always believe my fellow FSU grad Brad Johnson is the greatest quarterback in franchise history)
Heading into Bye: Bucs defeat Atlanta 31-10 in last true dominating performance of the Sapp-Brooks-Lynch triumvirate
After Bye: Bucs blow 35-14 lead to lose to Indianapolis to prove that the good times were over.
Bye Grade: C (for seven quarters the Bucs looked like they could repeat as champs, but in one quarter it all vanished shockingly quickly)
Heading into Bye: Bucs defeat Chicago 19-7 to get their record to 2-5.
After Bye: Bucs defeat Kansas City 34-31 as they appear to get ship righted.
Bye Grade C (back-to-back victories aren’t enough deodorant to cover a stinker of a season)
Heading into Bye: Bucs win game against Dolphins 27-13 but lose quarterback Brian Griese for season.
After Bye: Bucs lose to San Francisco 15-10 in an ugly game started by a callow Chris Simms
Bye Grade B (Beating in-state rival is always sweet and Simms would improve as he guided Bucs to unexpected division championship. However, trend continues that starting a new quarterback after a bye means the Bucs will lose.)
Heading into Bye: Bucs lose to Carolina 26-24 as for the second year in a row the team loses a starting quarterback for the season. This time it’s a spleen injury to Simms.
After Bye: For seemingly the 100th year in a row a new starting quarterback loses first start following a bye. This time Bruce Gradkowski plays well but Bucs lose to Saints 24-21.
Bye Grade C+ (two close losses to division rivals show team has heart, but not much talent)