The bye week was introduced in the National Football League for the first time in the 1990 season. It was instituted so that teams would play their 16-game regular season schedule over 17 weeks as a means to increase revenue.
Rest for NFL players was an unintended consequence of the institution of the bye week.
Bye weeks in the NFL are placed between Weeks 5 and 11. The NFL’s schedule makers try to limit the number of the times a team faces an opponent coming off a bye as the additional time to prepare can be viewed as a competitive advantage.
In that instance, the schedule makers failed the New York Giants. They have already faced two opponents coming off a bye (the Denver Broncos in Week 6 and Seattle Seahawks in Week 7) and one opponent remaining (the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11).
The Giants’ bye week is Week 8, which begins Thursday. There are those who believe the Giants’ season could have been saved if the team’s bye had occurred earlier but the team’s 1-6 record is reality. The unintended consequence of the bye is at the forefront of players’ minds: getting as far away from football as possible.
“I think we need to get away from it for a little bit,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “We need to get away from it, we need to clear our minds, get our bodies back and get back with a fresh outlook, as tough as that may be. We need to come back, we have a lot of football left to play. We had a lot of fight in us (in Sunday’s loss 24-7 loss to the Seahawks) and that needs to continue.”
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who served a one-game suspension for violating team rules before returning for the Seahawks in game in a limited capacity, echoed McAdoo’s sentiments.
“Relax. You have to get away from football, but you also have to reflect,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Figure out what went wrong. Come back, bend your ears and go.”
The Giants’ players attended a film session Tuesday. Many of the Giants’ players with homes outside of New Jersey departed as soon as the session was over. They are off until Monday when they will return to begin preparation for their Week 9 game against the 5-2 Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are also on bye this week.
For the Giants’ coaches, it will be business as usual after the players are gone. They will go over game plans, view game footage and try to figure out exactly how the Giants wound up with the NFL’s third worst record.
“With the type of week this is, we’re going to go back, take a look at self-scout, you know, the things that have been working. Is there a way to improve some of the things that haven’t been working?” McAdoo said. “Is it fixable in the last nine games or is it something that we need to throw out and revisit it later on? And just take a look at the way we’re using players. Take a look at the roles we can change to help us as a football team.”
The coaches will take the weekend off before the players’ return on Monday.
The Giants have nine remaining games on the schedule. Five of those games are against opponents with .500 or better records, including the current leaders of the NFC East (Philadelphia Eagles-Week 15), NFC West (Rams), and AFC West (Chiefs). Four games are against divisional opponents (Washington Redskins-Weeks 12 and 17, Dallas Cowboys-Week 14, Eagles) and the team has a trio of West Coast trips (San Francisco 49ers-Week 10, Oakland Raiders-Week 13, Arizona Cardinals-Week 16).
The only team remaining on the schedule with a worse record than the Giants are the winless (0-7) 49ers.
The Giants have not been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention but missing the playoffs for the seventh time since winning Super Bowl XLII is almost a certainty. Instead, the players will be playing for their pride and, in some cases, their NFL futures.
“At the end of the day, we have a job,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “Playing football is our job. You try to get some time to get a clear mind, but you’ve got to stay in it.”
Quarterback Eli Manning agrees with the Man Called Snacks.
“Well, we’ve got to keep grinding,” Manning said. “Obviously, we’ve had a tough start, lost some key players, but they’re not going to make it easy for us, no team will. So, we’ve got to keep finding ways to get better.”
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