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Impact Of The Bye

Posted Oct 18, 2011

New rules may take advantage from extra week

The Cards will have two weeks to prep for the Steelers Sunday.

The rest, now, is required.

That can aid some aching bodies. Not necessarily a football team.

The Cardinals will have had two weeks to prep for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and once, that was thought to be a boon to any team with extra time. It’s hard to believe that anymore.

“When you take a week off and another team is rolling and you’ve got to play them and they have momentum, that can hurt you,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “With the new CBA you have to have so many days off, it’s not like you can have a few extra days of practice on them.”

The new collective bargaining agreement requires at least four straight off days, including the weekend. The Cardinals, for instance, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, usually the hardest days for players coming off a game to practice.

Of the six teams that had the first round of byes last week – Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis and Washington – only the Ravens came away with a win after their break. All six teams played opponents who had played the week before. Obviously, part of that had to do with the teams who took the byes. The Rams and Dolphins have been struggling mightily, in particular.

Finding an extra benefit with that extra week, however, is tough to assess.

“We’re still going through our normal preparation,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We did a little bit of work on them. (The extra week) means it’s a little bit easier for the coaches because you don’t have the time constraints since you got a chance to spend some time last week.

“But anything you give to guys before they have four days off is probably going to go out the window anyway. I don’t know if it’s that much different, other than you should feel a little bit healthier, a little more refreshed and maybe have a new perspective on where we are.”

In the four games the Cardinals have played post-bye since Whisenhunt took over as coach, they have gone 1-3. Coincidentally – or not – the Cards have won their lone post-bye home game and lost three road attempts.

So the bye may not mean an advantage, although it doesn’t have to mean a disadvantage either. There are a host of things in the NFL that seem important except when they are not. People talk about leadership, and while that has an impact, it’s amazing how leaders emerge when the team is winning and are absent when the team is losing. It feels very chicken-and-egg. Same with chemistry. That tends to develop when players are playing well. Or is it because they are playing well?

The Cards are feeling better, but safety Kerry Rhodes, who had foot surgery, is still out. Tight end Todd Heap and his hamstring still are in “we’ll see” mode. If the Cardinals do play better against the Steelers and come away with a win, it could be because of an extra week of rest and prep, but it might just be that quarterback Kevin Kolb steadied himself, or that the defense finally got comfortable in their new system.

There is one thing the bye did undeniably provide the Cardinals. A chance to hit the pause button on 2011, splash some water on their collective face and straighten up their tie.

Already five games into the season, that’s really all they can ask for as they try to end a losing streak.

SOME NUMBERS

Running back Beanie Wells, who has run for a touchdown in each of his four games this season, would tie a franchise record by reaching the end zone for a fifth straight game Sunday against the Steelers.

Whisenhunt holds a 7-1 home record against AFC teams since becoming coach, including a 21-14 win over Pittsburgh in 2007.

Wells needs just 17 yards rushing to surpass his season total for all of 2010.


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