Bye week came at a great time for the New Orleans Saints
By Tony Twillie
The Saints’ bye week came early this year in 2016. Whether or not it’s a good thing or not, time will tell.
Every season the bye week comes, and no matter when it occurs it always seems to be “the right time” for most teams. With the bye coming so early this season, it might have seemed like a better deal to have the bye later in the year. The advantage of a later bye is getting that much needed rest and recovery period closer to the playoff push. Sometimes you just can’t wait that long though.
The Saints are not likely to be in a playoff push anyway. With the toughest portion of their schedule coming up in the six weeks out of this bye, there are few people giving the 1-3 Saints much opportunity to find their way to the post-season festivities.
However, the bye still comes at a good time for the Black and Gold, because they are black-and-blue currently. There are 20 players that are currently listed on the injury report for the Saints. That includes the players who won’t return this season, and many who are guys who might not have contributed much this season anyway. Some are project guys the Saints simply want to keep around to protect an investment. But the list is very long.
The bye week was instituted in the NFL in 1990. The NFL hadn’t had a true bye week since 1966 when they played a 14 game schedule and had an odd number of teams in the league. This bye week was different though, in that each conference had an even number of teams (outside of 1999-2001) and the bye was simply slated to a) give the teams a week off during the regular season, and b) to extend the season to 17 weeks for 16 games. In this manner, they could begin play the week of Labor Day and finish right around the beginning of the new year.
For many teams the bye is a great tool. It allows the players a week of less stringent practice, where more of a focus is made on film study and correcting errors made up to that point. At the end of the week, when the team would be doing final preparations for the upcoming game, they are instead dismissed to spend time doing whatever they’d like to do.
Many, particularly the younger players, will return to their college and attend a game. Others will plan a getaway for their families. Some will simply sit home and do as little as possible. A few will remain in town and nurse injuries – there are treatments and rehab appointments to make.
The players reconvene on Monday and begin a fairly normal work week. Instead of breaking down so much film of their last game, which they have extra time to do the previous week, they can focus more on their upcoming opponent’s last game and pick out tendencies.
For this reason, teams coming off a bye playing a team that wasn’t on a bye are often thought to have a decided advantage. However, statistically speaking the average is just over a 50% winning record for teams coming off a bye week.
There are other teams for whom the bye comes at a poor time. In decent health, a team with a winning record and a run of good games will likely not want the week off. For instance, in Week 4 the Philadelphia Eagles had a bye week. They were 3-0 coming off a tremendous win over a team many have slated for a Super Bowl trip, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Momentum was on their side and they have a rookie quarterback who probably shouldn’t have time to look up and see the forest, just keep noting the trees. This team likely didn’t want a bye in Week 4, the first week with byes this season.
The Saints need this bye in the worst way. Creeping out of the gate 0-3 and just having the cards all fall properly to get a comeback win at San Diego, the Saints needed a week to really address many issues, injuries first and foremost. The Saints are banged up at every position on the field and the week gives time for injuries to recover unimpeded by the banging of preparation for an upcoming game. So guys like Willie Snead and Kenny Vaccaro who returned this week but were likely limited by their injuries will have a week off to truly feel better.
Terron Armstead will not have to worry about trying to get back for a game this week – he can rest one more week and hopefully be more ready for our October 16th matchup with the Carolina Panthers. As well, it may be possible to see Dannell Ellerbe play for the first time this season.
Also it puts us a week closer to seeing the return of Delvin Breaux, who should be back in action around Week 8 or 9. And we could at that time see the introduction of Sheldon Rankins who looked good in camp and preseason before his injury. Rankins was placed on the injured reserve list, but each NFL team can designate one player on IR to return later in the season. Presumably, we’d see Rankins make his debut this season.
He had surgery on the broken leg in mid-August, with an approximate 8-week timetable on healing. That would place him healed around the middle of this month. The IR designation states that the player can’t practice with the team until after week 6. Ironically, the Saints week 6 game is the next one against the Panthers which falls exactly 8 weeks to the day from Rankin’s surgery. He wouldn’t be eligible to play until after Week 8, which would allow 3 additional weeks for full recovery, getting back up to football speed and padded practices.
So with no apologies to the Eagles or the 2-1 Packers who had byes last week, the Who Dats appreciate this by right now, probably more than any other team in the NFL.