TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) are riding their first losing streak of the season — with a pair of home losses to the Los Angeles Rams last Monday night and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
After the loss to the reigning Super Bowl championships, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians made it clear — his plan for the bye week is all about staying healthy.
“First and foremost, get healthy and beat the virus,” Arians said. “Every team that has come back from the bye has had a virus problem. We can’t finish our season with eight, nine or 10 guys staying home. Every game is a big game – 11-5 will do it. One at a time, but the first thing is to get healthy and beat the virus.”
With COVID-19 cases spiking nationwide, the NFL is experiencing its own issues — from the Denver Broncos playing Sunday without starting quarterback on the roster to an outbreak in the Baltimore Ravens locker room.
“It definitely changes the bye week where guys would normally get out of town — obviously we can’t do that,” Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin said. “Guys are staying around, making sure they are staying safe. Really it comes down to being smart. We have a lot that we are playing for and we have to commit to each other as a team to be smart about where we are and make sure everyone stays healthy.”
After 12 straight weeks of football, this break is much-needed.
“It’s going to be good for us to refresh, refocus,” Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. “We shouldn’t need to refocus, but refocus to make sure everything is where we need to be at, everybody is doting their I’s crossing their T’s so we can get back to winning football.”
With four games left in the season, Tampa Bay is very much in the hunt for a wild card spot in the postseason. Six teams are competing for three wildcard spots. Among those six, the Bucs have the easiest remaining schedule based on their opponents' win percentage.