After nine straight weeks without a rest, the Raiders will join Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego for the last bye week of the 2010 NFL schedule. In recent years, this off time has come much earlier for the Silver and Black, and some within the organization believe that it sometimes comes too soon.
“We got three in a row and this bye week is going to help us out, get healthy,” said one of the longest-tenured Raiders, Shane Lechler. “In times in the past, if we were healthy right now, the bye week’s falling at the worst time, kind of like what happened in Denver last year. But this one, we really need it this time. These guys need some time off.”
Last year, Denver started the season 6-0, and then took their forced bye week in week seven. After the time off, they lost eight of their final 10 games.
The last time the Raiders took a week off this late in the season was 2004. In ’05, ’07, and ’08, the Raiders had week five off, while In 2006, their bye week came in week three of the schedule. Last season, week nine was their scheduled time off, but whether or not the late bye week was a positive is arguable. Prior to the week nine bye, the Raiders were 2-6. After the bye, they were 3-5, but JaMarcus Russell wasn’t benched until week 11 — leaving doubt that the better second-half record was due to the time off.
After winning three straight for the first time since 2002, the Raiders don’t want to see something like what happened to the ’09 Broncos happen to them this season. “The psychology of the whole thing is the most important thing,” said head coach Tom Cable about getting the week off while on a hot streak. “Winning some games like we have, they can at least take a step back now, and they’re excited about it and they’re hungry for it, so their mind won’t be too far from it.”
Raiders star defensive lineman Richard Seymour is one of the few players on the roster that has been on a winning team in his career. Monday he warned, “If you don’t handle [the bye week] right, it can be bad.” That, Cable said, is something that he’s already addressed with the team. In Cable’s press conference on Monday he revealed, “We talked about what needs to be done in their time away, and if they’ve got injuries or issues like that, how to take care of them and the responsibility that comes with that and challenged them all.”
Despite any challenges or pitfalls, Cable is confident that his team will be able to handle all of their responsibilities — which may attribute to why he’s positive about taking a week off in the midst of a three-game winning streak.
“This is the perfect time for this team to have a bye week,” said Cable. “We have a chance to be as healthy or get as healthy as we’ve been all year, since we went to camp. So, I think it does come at a good time and I think that we didn’t get much break from preseason to the regular season. So I think this gives us a chance to really kind of recharge our batteries, mentally more than anything, but it’ll be a good break for our team.”
Seymour seems to agree. “You can gain a lot from it, and you can lose a lot but I think if we handle this thing the right way – the way things have been going – with the attention to detail and the ways guys have bought into what we’re trying to do, I think it’s going to be a really good thing for us.“