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Smith welcomes bye week to try to get struggling Bucs headed in right direction


TAMPA, Florida — Lovie Smith says Tampa Bay's bye week is coming at a good time, though not just because the break will give some injured players a chance to get healthy.

No, the struggling Buccaneers (1-5) have been blown out twice in the past month, and the coach is hoping having the embarrassment of a 48-17 loss to Baltimore will be motivation for the team to get back on the practice and make necessary corrections to turn the season around.

Smith said Monday he believes in the plan he's put in place to revitalize a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007, and he's sticking with it.

"I don't know if there's ever a bad time for the bye week. ... But for us, it's a great time right now," Smith said. "Also for us, the way we played (Sunday), it's good to hurt for two weeks also, and have that driving your preparation, your practice and all that."

The Ravens scored on six straight possession to begin the game, with Joe Flacco throwing for touchdowns on the first five. The 38-0 halftime deficit was the biggest for a home team in NFL history, and it was especially tough to stomach coming just two weeks after Tampa Bay fell 56-14 in Atlanta.

The Bucs dropped to 0-3 at home and are tied with Washington (1-5) for the worst record in the NFC.

Smith reiterated that the season is still young, adding that he remains confident that the Bucs are headed in the right direction and that their record will begin to reflect their progress.

"I think experience teaches you a lot. ... I've been in this situation before a few different times, and I just believe in what we're going to do. But when you're just starting off, there is a reason there's something new starting off," said Smith, who spent the offseason overhauling a roster that went 4-12 under Greg Schiano in 2013.

"You do have to crawl before you walk. We didn't want to do it as much," Smith added. "Part of the master plan was not to be in this situation right now. But that's normally what you do when you start something new. ... You have to build that foundation, and that's what we're doing right now."

The team's offensive struggles have not been a surprise. The defense, however, was expected to a strength and drooped to dead last in the league in points and yards allowed after yielding 475 yards and six touchdowns to the Ravens. Flacco not only wasn't sacked, but the Bucs had zero quarterback hits.

Baltimore, by comparison, had five sacks and 15 QB hits.

"We are a better football team. That game didn't say that. But we're doing some good things, better things behind the scenes, and hopefully we're going to put it together and we'll eventually see that in a game," Smith said.

The coach said he understands the frustration of fans. He stressed that he and the players are displeased, too. Then he appealed for patience.

"There's still a lot of football left to go. ... We're disappointed right now, but let it all play out," Smith said. "Yeah, I've said that before. But the game isn't over. ... If we were 6-0 right now, would you start buying your Super Bowl tickets? You have to just hold on a little bit is what I would say."

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PHOTO: Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith watches his team play against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith watches his team play against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


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