TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano cut his players loose Wednesday for their bye-week breaks, and the locker room was practically empty a mere half-hour after practice.
But even as players dispersed to visit friends and family or simply lay on their couches, Schiano and his coaches have more work to do.
At the core of their mission this week: taking a look in the mirror. What have the Bucs done well in their four games to date? Where have they come up short?
Now's the time to take stock in a more comprehensive way and apply those lessons to the remaining 12 games.
"There are good things that get lost when you lose, just like there are bad things that get lost when you win," Schiano said. "As the head coach, it's my job to make sure it doesn't happen at any kind of substantial level."
The self-scouting, as Schiano calls it, involves looking for trends. Rather than looking simply at their most recent game in its totality, coaches might, for example, examine similar plays from all their games and find the common flaws.
"We can do that any time we like, but there's time constraints," Schiano said, citing the need to game plan for weekly opponents. "So, generally you're looking at … plays from the game you just played and moving forward to the next opponent. It's been a really good exercise and one that we're going to do again. … Every quarter, as you examine your books as a business, you examine your production as a team. It's a good idea."
As for the timing of the bye, which comes rather early, Schiano said he believes it's favorable for his club. After a demanding training camp and even some punishing regular-season practices, Schiano believes his team was in need of a break.
"This group has gone incredibly hard since July 26 until now," he said. "That sounds like a long time ago. They've busted their humps."
But what about the daunting stretch of 12 consecutive games to come?
"It all depends on how healthy you stay," Schiano said. "If you get on a roll and get going, it's great. I don't make the schedule. As hard as we've worked, I'm not sorry. Maybe in Week 10 I'll say I wish we had (a bye) then. Now, I'm glad these guys get an opportunity to get a rest."
MORE TRUEBLOOD? Jeremy Trueblood might have lost his job at right tackle, but it doesn't mean he can't be a starter elsewhere on the offensive line.
Schiano is using the bye to take a look at different line combinations, one of which includes tackles such as Trueblood and Jamon Meredith moving to guard.
After the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl RG Davin Joseph, the team scrambled for a solution and settled on Ted Larsen, who started 14 games over the past two seasons. For the first time in his career, a healthy Trueblood was among the inactive players for Sunday's game against the Redskins.
"We've tried to move 'Blood around because, as I've told you, I love his competitiveness, his fight, his desire," Schiano said. "So, we've moved him around a little bit, taken a look at him at some different spots. … When you lose a guy like Davin, you have to really work to figure out the best way to fill in."
Can Trueblood, at 6 feet 8, 320 pounds, play guard?
"It's done," Schiano said. "There are guys in our division who are doing it. It's a matter of if you are willing to do the things you have to do to get the job done. I know he is. Can he is the question, and we'll figure that out."
FREEMAN SPEAKS: After his mixed performance against the Redskins, QB Josh Freeman reiterated his comfort level in the offense.
"When I look at the offense, I have a lot of confidence in my guys, confidence in myself, in the schemes," he said. "We have a lot of confidence in (offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan) and the plays that he's calling."