Tampa Bay has lost three of its last four games, its starting quarterback and its share of the lead in the NFC South.
But Bucs coach Jon Gruden made it clear the Bucs are in no need of motivational speeches or confidence boosters.
Just consider a few of his takes from Thursday's post-practice session with reports.
Asked what, if anything, he has done or said to boost his team's confidence amid a two-game losing streak, Gruden responded, "What do you mean what have I done? Hug em? What do you want me to do? Pat them on the back and give them a fight song? No. You probably just let them know you're going to have moments in this league now where you're going to be tested. I try to explain that to them. I try not to get too deep and philosophical.
"Play one game at a time. Have fun playing, man. Just let it go and play. I've been doing this 15 years, I haven't had a tight end come in here and do what Alex Smith has done. I've been playing 15 years and I haven't had a running back come in and play three games - nor has the NFL in the history of the league - (and) have what Cadillac Williams did. Dan Buenning, what he's done in the first eight weeks is pretty damn good. I'm excited about what Anthony Davis has done and the toughness and the grit he has shown. Some of the other guys, now, you've been thrust into some very prominent positions. Quarterback. Edell Shepherd now. Some of the others. Do something with it. Let it go and do something with it."
When asked how the Bucs can get their swagger back, Gruden snapped, "I keep hearing that, 'Gee guys, let's get our swagger back. Go out there and play with swagger.' How 'bout smashing somebody's ass? Put it on tape. That's what swagger is. You know what I mean? That's a bunch of bull----, you know what I mean? Where you just talk about swagger. Swagger is execution and coming off the ball and making yards and doing the things that really good football players and teams do, in my opinion. I don't think we're lacking for confidence."
--WR Ike Hilliard will make his first start of the season for the Bucs on Sunday against the Redskins.
Hilliard, a ninth-year veteran from Florida, will start in place of Michael Clayton, who is questionable with a right knee bruise. Clayton missed his second straight day of practice Thursday.
"Yep, he's been stepping up for us. Ike will play, Ike will start," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "And Edell Shepherd obviously will be part of the package, also."
--WR Michael Clayton, who has played with a shoulder separation this season, was injured in the first quarter of Sunday's 34-14 loss to Carolina when he landed hard on his knee making his first pass reception. Clayton did not practice again Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Redskins.
If Clayton is unable to play, it will be the first time he has missed a game after playing in 24 straight during his young career.
--T Anthony Davis, who suffered a sprained knee and was forced to leave the game against Carolina, returned to practice and is probable for Sunday's game against the Redskins.
--RB Michael Pittman (shoulder stinger) practiced on a limited basis Thursday. Pittman is listed as questionable.
--S Dexter Jackson (hamstring) did not practice Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
If Oakland Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins plays the second half of the season at the statistical level he did the first, he will complete 55.5 percent of his passes for 4,104 yards with 24 touchdowns, six interceptions and a career-high passer rating of 88.3.
If Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer plays the second half of the season at the statistical level he did the first, he will complete 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,288 yards with 24 touchdowns, six interceptions and a career-high quarterback rating of 90.9.
In Oakland, there is a faction of fans clamoring for backup Marques Tuiasosopo or even third-string quarterback Andrew Walter.
In Denver, some are whispering the initials "MVP" and are beginning to believe Plummer has finally evolved as a championship successor to John Elway.
That's the difference between 3-5 and 6-2. Collins understands how won-loss record alters perception.
"We're 3-5 and obviously we'd like to be 6-2," Collins said. "That's the goal. You'd like to go 3-1 in each quarter. So, no, we haven't reached our expectations."
Collins has been criticized for being too immobile, for not getting the ball to Randy Moss and for being unable to adequately handle a blitz. Raiders coach Norv Turner doesn't see a great difference between Collins and Plummer, despite their different styles.
"I think both of them are doing the things they have been asked to do in terms of managing the team, managing the game, and eliminating some of the problems," Turner said. "Both have done a great job eliminating the turnovers and interceptions."
Collins struggled through most of a 27-23 loss to Kansas City before rallying the Raiders from a 20-9 deficit to a 23-23 lead with 1:45 remaining. The Chiefs were blitzing on virtually every play, with Collins finally getting a rhythm amid the pressure.
The first scoring drive was 71 yards on six plays, with the Raiders getting 34 yards on Chiefs penalties.
On the Raiders last drive, Collins conducted an 84-yard, 14-play drive that consumed 6:22 and ended he hit Moss for a 7-yard touchdown.
"Kerry was on fire. He had that look," right tackle Robert Gallery said. "They were bringing more guys than we could block and he stood in there and completed those passes on those two drives we had."
Collins gives himself mixed reviews on the first half of the season.
"At times it's been good, at times not so good," Collins said. "I'm taking care of the ball a lot better. If we said I'd have 12 touchdown passes and three interceptions at this point, we'd say, `OK, we'll take that.'
"At the same time, my completion percentage is not where it needs to be ... it's tough to think about the positive things when you're 3-5."
--CB Charles Woodson hasn't been present in open locker room sessions since suffering a broken right fibula Oct. 23. Coach Norv Turner said Woodson continues to rehab but said it's too early to tell if he will be put on injured reserve.
--KR Chris Carr is a big reason the Raiders rank third in the NFL in average drive start following kickoffs at the 30.8-yard line. In the last five games, Carr's long kickoff return in each game has been 36, 33, 32, 33 and 62 yards.
--DE Bobby Hamilton was limited in practice and his status will probably not be known until game day. Hamilton is one of Oakland's most stout run defenders, and the Broncos are the NFL's leading rushing teams.
--DB Renaldo Hill, a starter as the nickel back in the 4-2-5 alignment the Raiders use more than any other package, was limited in practice for the second consecutive day. Hill said he has had problems getting loose in the cool weather but expects to play against Denver.--WR Randy Moss missed portions of 11-on-11 drills, but coach Norv Turner expects Moss to play. He played extensively against Kansas City, although he did not look to be 100 percent.
He's the coach behind a defense that is often lost in the wake of the Chargers' headline-grabbing offense. And while coordinator Wade Phillips' pass defense has room to grow, the run defense is as nasty as ever heading into the bye week.
The run defense is ranked No. 3 in the NFL. It's as young as it is good with linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips and defensive ends Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky.
But will Phillips be around next year to see its continuing progress? He hopes not.
Phillips isn't shy in discussing his aspiration to return as an NFL head coach.
He didn't get any nibbles last off-season when two coaches were hired. This off-season, the market for head coaches could be considerably bigger when gauging the various hot seats around the NFL.
"I've been a successful head coach, and not many guys can say that," said Phillips, who went 47-36 in stints with the Bills, Broncos and Falcons.
Phillips has an amazing streak he kept alive last year when coming to the Chargers.
The year's previous team was 4-12 and well out of the playoffs. But last year's squad flipped to 12-4 and advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1995.
"How many guys can come in and in their first year go to the playoffs?" Phillips asked. "I've done it six times as a head coach and a defensive coordinator. I feel like I've got something to offer."
Phillips speculates because he was let go in Buffalo, Denver and Atlanta, some believe there's something wrong with his coaching.
"I think because you get fired, sometimes it carries a stigma that you didn't do good enough and I don't think that was the case," Phillips said. "They don't realize you were in 29-19 (while at Buffalo), which was one of the best records in the NFL.
"But that is up for someone else to decide. Not me."
Instead he takes this week's extra times to decipher how the Chargers can keep containing rival rushing offenses to less than 80 yards per game, and how to improve a 30th-ranked pass defense which is allowing 248 yards per outing mostly from the back end. The Chargers are tied for first with the Seahawks with 27 sacks.Phillips just hopes others don't sack his chances of again becoming a head coach.
--The Chargers will work just twice during their bye week (Monday and Wednesday).
--Much has been made about the Chargers' five road trips to the Eastern Time Zone. Add this to their travel woes: they sat on the tarmac for three hours after beating the Jets on Sunday because of bad weather.
--Could RB LaDainian Tomlinson be headed again to the history books? He leads the NFL with 15 touchdowns (13 rushing, two receiving), and is on pace for 26 total TDs. The NFL's all-time season TD record is 27, set by Priest Holmes in 2003. Tomlinson is so good, that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said he is cautious about going to the LT well too often. "You can take a guy like that and you can wear him out if you're not careful," Cameron said. "And I take a lot of pride in knowing we have a special guy and we are not going to abuse him. We got to be smart."
--QB Drew Brees, with 2,099 passing yards, is on pace to collect 3,732. If so, he would join Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts as the only Chargers to record more than 3,500 passing yards in a season. Fouts did it five times.
--OLB Shawne Merriman leads the Chargers with five sacks, which projects to 10 for the year. No Charger rookie has led the team in sacks.
--Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said it's Shawne Merriman and DE Luis Castillo who are among the reasons this defense has considerable upside. "Two weeks ago (they) probably played as good as any two rookies I've had play in one game," Phillips said. "The future bodes well for us."
--ILB Donnie Edwards is going to forgo arthroscopic knee surgery because he said the knee isn't bothering him. What about his grotesque smashed middle finger? Just part of the job. "I caught it between my helmet and another helmet making a tackle," he said.
--TE Antonio Gates said he loves it when a linebacker trots over to guard him. "It rings a couple of bells," he said. Gates is on pace for 96 catches, 1,326 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns - despite missing the opener serving a suspension.
--Chargers are usually hot early. They've outscored rivals 52-20 in the opening 15 minutes.
--ILB Randall Godfrey was not at practice as he remained with his family after the recent murder of his sister. He is expected to rejoin the team next week.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Chargers' secondary figures to be back at full strength after the bye. That means Sammy Davis will return to his nickel role, giving way to Drayton Florence. And Terrence Kiel will return to strong safety with Clinton Hart stepping aside.
Although Jamar Fletcher has played well enough in spurts that the coaches could decide to go with him at that nickel back instead of Davis. As well, Davis is nursing a sore calf that could give the coaches a longer practice look at Fletcher.
--OLB Shawne Merriman was back working in practice, two days after having pins inserted in his fractured left wrist. Merriman is expected to play against the Bills on Nov. 20.
--WR Vincent Jackson could see the field more if Eric Parker starts being slowed by nagging injuries. Jackson has but one catch, but is practicing well.
--DE Dave Ball, who was cut from the roster on Friday, was brought back to the practice squad. The team once liked his burst, but he has been by-passed by Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips.
--QB A. J. Feeley will use the bye week to get more in tune with the offense. He said he's pleased with the manner he is picking it up since coming over from Miami last month.
--ILB Stephen Cooper has been impressive while subbing for Randall Godfrey and could move into a starting role there next year after Godfrey retires.
INJURY IMPACT: OLB Steve Foley (abdominal) didn't practice Wednesday and is status for next week is unclear. TE Ryan Krause (foot) didn't practice and won't play. C Nick Hardwick (ankle) didn't practice and his status isn't clear. CB Sammy Davis (calf) didn't practice and his status isn't clear. LT Roman Oben (foot) didn't practice and will be evaluated next week. SS Terrence Kiel (ankle) didn't practice but seems like a go for next week. FB Andrew Pinnock (calf/shoulder) didn't practice and his status isn't clear.