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Getting By After The Bye

Posted Nov 9, 2013

Cardinals want to make sure their post-bye debut goes well against Texans

Jerraud Powers, Daryl Washington, Yeremiah Bell and the Cardinals are looking to get over .500 after the bye.

NFL players tend to have a bounce in their step following a bye week.

The bumps and bruises are healing. The four days off allow for some relaxation.

“You got away, you had fun, you didn’t think about football all weekend,” kicker Jay Feely said. “Now you’re excited and ready for that stretch run.”

But nothing sours the mood quicker than a loss in that first game back. The Cardinals have experienced that feeling more than they’d prefer in recent years, dropping six of their seven post-bye contests since 2006.

The lone win in that stretch came against the Texans in 2009, and Arizona hopes to find similar success Sunday against Houston following their Week 9 break.

Center Lyle Sendlein has been with Arizona for five of those six losses, and while he said the bye week is great for health and game preparation, it can throw a team off its routine. That’s why he appreciates the schedule employed by first-year coach Bruce Arians.

“There is a disruption,” Sendlein said. “You kind of get out of your habits throughout the week. But with B.A., he kept everything pretty much the same and gave us a few days off on the weekend. We came back on Monday like we played on Sunday.”

Since byes were instituted in 1990, the Cardinals have gone 10-14 in their first game back. The .417 winning percentage isn’t sparkling, but it is higher than the team’s cumulative winning percentage of .378 in those seasons.

A post-bye-week result, of course, is affected by myriad factors.

This game against the Texans, for instance, looked much different before the season started. Few thought Houston would be 2-6 at this point, with Case Keenum as the starting quarterback, running back Arian Foster on the sidelines and coach Gary Kubiak home recovering from a mini-stroke.

If the Cardinals snap their post-bye drought, it may have less to do with the time off and more about other factors.

“I don’t ever think those trends hold true or have any meaning, especially when you have a new staff and 30 percent (roster) turnover on each team,” Feely said.

Players and coaches were split on the timing of this year’s bye. In the Week 8 win over the Falcons, all facets worked well and that momentum could have carried over to the next week.

“I wanted to keep going, selfishly for myself,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “When you take a couple days off, all of a sudden you’ve got to go back to work like, ‘OK, here we go again.’”

The timing did help on the injury front. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is seemingly past his hamstring issues, while running back Rashard Mendenhall will return to the lineup after missing the Falcons game with a toe injury.

Additionally, every player on the team had a chance to recharge physically for the season’s second half.

 “It’s needed,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It doesn’t mess up your rhythm. You take your time, regroup, then you play even harder.”

Arians’ first game as the Colts’ interim coach last season came after a bye, and he led the team to a 30-27 win over the Packers in Week 5.

If the Cardinals can follow that script, they’ll remain in the thick of the race for an NFC wild card berth. At 4-4, Arizona trails the Panthers, Bears and Packers by one game for the second wild card spot.

Arians doesn’t expect any bye-related issues Sunday.

“After the bye you go right back to the normal week,” he said. “This has been a normal week. Everybody should be right on schedule. The only big difference is it’s a 2:25 (p.m.) kickoff rather than 1:25. Everything else, no excuses.”


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