Bye Week Blues – Suck It Up

The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to have a ‘good’ bye week this year around the middle of the season. Because of circumstances beyond their control, it appears as though they will have no choice but to take their bye week now, in week four, due to no fault of their own, after their scheduled opponent, the Tennessee Titans, suffered a Covid-19 outbreak that appears to be expanding.

It’s not ideal. The obvious preference would always be to not have your schedule interrupted. One could even say that it sucks. Maybe it’s even unfair.

Suck it up. It doesn’t matter.

Mike Tomlin is known to paraphrase a quote from Lou Holtz, which goes some to the effect of, it’s a waste of time to tell people about your problems, because they either don’t care or are glad you have them. The Steelers complaining about the bye week being moved—even if it interrupts your son’s birthday plans—won’t change anything. The bye week wasn’t scheduled around your plans in the first place.

As Vince Williams wrote on Twitter yesterday, “a week 4 bye is trash, but we gotta do what we gotta do to keep everyone safe. We all wanted to play and knew adjustments would have to be made. It is what it is”.

A lot of Steelers fans seemed to be on board with the idea of allowing the Titans to play on Sunday or Monday with the potential that they would hardly get the opportunity to practice for the game. They weren’t concerned about that adjustment.

When their game is moved and their team is forced to take an early bye, in spite of the fact that the Steelers had nothing to do with the Titans’ outbreak, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly time to scream bloody murder.

For one thing, it’s overwhelmingly likely that it won’t make a difference on the field. Barring injuries, which are unpredictable and could happen any time (Diontae Johnson may not have been available to play against the Titans anyway), there’s no reason to believe the Steelers will be less equipped to beat Tennessee in the middle of the season as opposed to now.

There is no correlation between teams having early byes or unpredictable reschedulings and performing below expectations. The Baltimore Ravens, for example, had their week two game postponed, and thus had to take a bye in week two. They made it all the way to the AFC Championship game with a rookie Joe Flacco, whom Troy Polamalu picked off for a late score to decide the game.

That didn’t happen because they lacked their midseason rest. And there are plenty of other examples of teams having early byes and having success, even winning the Super Bowl, with plenty of examples of teams having late byes and underperforming.

The timing of the bye week, before the season starts, hardly matters at all. Part of it is preference. Some players might prefer an earlier bye, especially in a year like this without a proper offseason or preseason games. Some will prefer one in the middle of the season, to avoid a long haul. Some might before a late bye, to get some rest in a late stage.

The most important element of a bye week is using it to your advantage instead of complaining about its timing, even if it is thrust upon you. Let’s face it, there’s a good chance the Steelers and Titans aren’t the only teams who will face this problem this year. It’s time to just suck it up and deal with it.

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