Bruce Arians

Staff Notes: Eagles, Arians, Evero, Panthers

The Eagles officially announced their coaching updates heading into the 2023 NFL season on Twitter today, revealing some updates to their completely made-over staff that we were previously unaware of.

On the offensive side of the ball, pass game coordinator Kevin Patullo received a promotion, adding the moniker of associate head coach to his title. Also, beneath the head coach, the team has hired Tyler Yelk to serve as assistant to the head coach.

On the defensive side of the ball, a couple of others received promotions. Formerly the assistant defensive backs coach, D.K. McDonald has taken over the position room as the new defensive backs coach. Filling McDonald’s previous role of assistant defensive backs coach will be Taver Johnson, who has experience in the NFL but most recently served as defensive pass game coordinator and safeties coach at Eastern Michigan. Tyler Scudder has become the team’s assistant linebackers coach after serving as a defensive assistant previously. Lastly, Philadelphia has hired Mike Diangelo in the role of defensive quality control.

Here are a few more updates in the coaching ranks of the NFL:

  • The Buccaneers made an addition to their staff this week, as well, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports. Tampa Bay brought Sarah Evans into the coaches office to serve in the role of senior manager of coaching operations. She’s been with the team since 2020 in roles concerning player relations and community efforts.
  • In another update from Tampa Bay, former head coach Bruce Arians will reportedly be taking another step back in 2023, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports. Last year, he stepped down from head coach to senior advisor to the general manager. This year, he remains in that role, and has reportedly still been helpful leading up the draft but hasn’t been nearly as involved as he was last year.
  • Many have drooled over the elite names joining the Panthers‘ coaching staff this offseason, lauding owner David Tepper on his financial commitment to the staff. Thanks to Joe Person of The Athletic, we have some evidence of that. New defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will reportedly move into the top ten highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL with a three-year contract worth about $9.3MM.
  • In the Carolina front office, the Panthers’ vice president of football operations, Steven Drummond, has resigned after over 17 years with the organization, according to Person.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Staff Changes, Free Agency Plans

The Buccaneers are on the lookout for a new offensive coordinator, with Byron Leftwich being the highest-profile coach the team moved on from amid a spree of dismissals and retirements last week. Both Todd Bowles and Tom Brady voiced concerns about Leftwich last season.

Bowles and Brady complained about the offense’s predictability, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, who adds the team’s lack of commitment to the run game was one of the issues. Bowles believed teams had caught onto Leftwich’s offense, which tumbled off its elite perch of previous years, and Brady problems with the offense emerged back in December.

Tampa Bay finished 25th in scoring, and although it ranked 15th in total offense, a last-place ground attack dragged down the latter number. The Bucs ranked 32nd across the board on the ground, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and totaling just five rushing touchdowns. The Bucs went from 61 TDs in 2021 to 31 this season. Leonard Fournette‘s three-year, $21MM deal produced just 668 rushing yards (3.5 per tote) in 16 games. Much of these woes can be attributed to the changes to Tampa Bay’s interior offensive line, which lost all three of its previous starters — Ryan Jensen (injury), Ali Marpet (retirement), Alex Cappa (free agency) — to lead to lesser replacements creating problems for Brady and the run game. Brady showing signs of decline did not help matters for Leftwich, either.

But Leftwich and other Bruce Arians-hired staffers took the fall. Arians is not pleased with what happened last week, Stroud said during a WDAE Radio interview (via The three-year Bucs HC, who gave the keys to Bowles in a surprising move last March, is “disappointed” and “hurt” his successor canned several of his staffers. Those assistants, some of whom having additional years on their contracts, had been told they would be there as long as Bowles was, per Stroud. Of course, NFL teams’ plans change rapidly. And an 8-9 season was not exactly where the Bucs thought they would be given their performances in 2020 and ’21. Bowles figures to enter the 2023 season on the hot seat. Arians spent the season as a senior advisor to Jason Licht, though he admitted late in the season he missed coaching.

As Bowles gathered his staff for a postmortem Thursday morning — prior to informing Leftwich and Co. they were being fired — he mentioned the team would have a difficult time signing free agents, per Stroud. The Bucs are nearly in Saints territory in terms of cap space, ranking ahead of only their restructure-happy rivals around the league. As of Wednesday, Tampa Bay sits $54MM-plus over the projected 2023 cap. The Bucs have been active in free agency over the past two years, mostly via re-signings. But the team had brought back a number of its top free agents — from Jensen to Carlton Davis in 2022 to Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David and Rob Gronkowski in 2021 — during Brady’s stay.

Following that meeting, Bowles called select assistants into his office to inform them of the dismissals. Despite the persistent run-game struggles, Bowles kept Arians hires Harold Goodwin (run-game coordinator) and Joe Gilbert (O-line coach). The team had discussions with Bill O’Brien as a Leftwich contingency plan last year, in the event the latter landed the Jacksonville HC job. O’Brien was Brady’s OC (or de facto OC, as the Patriots sometimes do not do coordinator titles) for three seasons, but he is now back with the Pats.

The Bucs have begun their OC search, with a few candidates surfacing Tuesday. While Leftwich’s ouster may influence Brady in free agency, the early word coming out of Tampa is the 45-year-old superstar will explore other options if he is to play a 24th season.

Bruce Arians Discusses Coaching Future

Bruce Arians moved from the sideline to the front office this past offseason, with the 70-year-old now serving as the Buccaneers’ senior advisor to general manager Jason Licht. While Arians sounds appreciative of his current gig, he recently made it clear that he’d jump at the opportunity to return to coaching.

“Would I love to be coaching? Yeah,” Arians told Rick Stroud of “It’s what you do. It kills me to go upstairs. I’m on the sideline in pregame and it kills me to have to go upstairs and just sit there. It kills me. It’s hard. It’s what I do. I’ve done it my whole life. I’m smart enough to know it’s over.

“It’s not the same. That daily interaction with the players and the coaches, the relationship I’m in. I sat and talked to Mike (Evans) and Vita (Vea) for an hour. The new guys are told, ‘That’s the old coach. You don’t want him cussing you out.’ I just (cussed out) a couple of them for the hell of it.”

Arians’ tenure in Tampa Bay spanned three years, including a 31-18 record and the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. He seemed prepared for a fourth season at the helm but plans changed with the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady‘s future. Working under the impression that his franchise QB was going to hang up his cleats, Arians weighed the possibility of an unproven QB room against his desire to see defensive coordinator Todd Bowles succeed him.

By ultimately stepping aside, Arians allowed the organization to retain both Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, with the now-former head coach continually asserting that he wanted to set up the Buccaneers organization with a solid succession plan. Still, despite Arians willingly giving up his gig, it sounds like he would have stuck around had he had more clarity on Tampa Bay’s outlook for the 2022-23 season.

Buccaneers Not Looking To Make Any Moves Before Trade Deadline

Despite being in the midst of a three-game skid, and losing five of their last six games, the Buccaneers are not expected to make any big moves to acquire players before the trade deadline, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. General manager Jason Licht has been known to be willing to make moves that could improve the team’s standing for a playoff run, but, right now, the team seems to be fine with where they’re at.

The Buccaneers don’t seem to have a ton of holes in their roster. They haven’t been very successful running the ball, ranking 31st in the NFL for rushing yards. They likely don’t feel the need to trade for a big name running back. Despite veteran pass-catching back Giovani Bernard spending the last six games on injured reserve, Tampa Bay still has Leonard Fournette. The team has also spent two third-round picks in the last three drafts on Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Rachaad White.

A more likely reason for their rushing struggles is the offensive line losses they’ve dealt with this year. The retirement of last year’s starting guard Ali Marpet, the loss of their other starting guard, Alex Cappa, to free agency, and the long-term injury suffered by starting center Ryan Jensen have forced the Buccaneers to piece together a new configuration. Last year’s Buccaneers weren’t one of the league’s better rushing offenses and, with these setbacks, they’ve turned into one of the league’s worst.

Fans may also be looking for the team to make a move on defense, where the team ranks last in the league in rushing yards allowed. The Buccaneers don’t necessarily think a change in personnel is in order from an outside source, as they have several players who have missed time due to injury set to make comebacks soon. Tampa Bay hopes to get defensive lineman Akiem Hicks back soon, which should be a huge help. They’re also looking for cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting to make returns soon. Unfortunately, the loss of outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett hurts the defense’s chances for improvement a bit.

If any changes were to be made, it’s looking more and more likely that it will come on the coaching end and not on the players’ end, according to Armando Salguero of With an offense that has been deemed as “under-performing” there is speculation that the team could have retired head coach and current consultant Bruce Arians or offensive consultant Tom Moore pair up with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich to bring the offense back up to par.

Currently, head coach Todd Bowles says the coaching staff and their duties will remain intact, but, if the team continues to flail in what could easily be the last season for quarterback Tom Brady, look for the team to get creative with their use of the coaching staff.

Latest On Tom Brady-Bruce Arians Relationship, Dolphins Interest

Tom Brady has been a central figure in a number of offseason storylines, including not only his brief retirement. In remarks he made earlier this month, he commented on two of the most notable storylines involving his decision to keep playing for at least one more season. 

One of those is the reported rift between himself and former head coach Bruce Arians. Growing disagreements between the two, many believe, led to the latter’s retirement, allowing Todd Bowles to take over on the sidelines. Arians himself has denied that sentiment, recently stating that he would have delayed his decision to step aside had he known Brady was coming back for at least the 2022 campaign.

When asked about the presence of tension between the two, Brady similarly said, via ESPN’s Jenna Laine, that there was “zero whatsoever.” He continued, “he and I have a great relationship. Part of the reason I chose here was because of Bruce… I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him – that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”

Another major storyline is that of the deal believed to have been in place which would have sent Brady to Miami as the quarterback of a Dolphins team coached by Sean Payton. Brady offered a more vague response when asked about that situation, saying, “I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people. I’ve had for the last three or four years of my career, about different opportunities when I’m done playing football… I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do, and [where] I’ll get to be in the game of football.”

The reported Miami arrangement has become a moot point for 2022 at the very least, with Payton set to work at Fox Sports this season, just as Brady will when he retires for good. That will allow the latter to return his attention to the Buccaneers, as he aims for an eighth Super Bowl title.

Bruce Arians’ Retirement Decision Was Long Contemplated, Dependent On Tom Brady

One of the biggest storylines of this offseason’s coaching cycle wasn’t one of the many outside hires made around the league, but the internal succession plan enacted in Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians recently shed more light on the thought process that went in to his retirement decision. 

“It was 90 percent that [this] year would be my last, anyway” he said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Arians will turn 70 midway through the 2022 campaign, meaning that his coaching career was likely nearing an end in the very near future. However, he publicly stated that he wouldn’t retire this offseason in the aftermath of the Bucs’ playoff loss to the Rams.

Arians’ tenure in Tampa Bay spanned three years. It included a 31-18 record, and the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. His remarks pointed to a fourth campaign at the helm, but things began to change as early as March, Stroud notes. Working under the impression that Tom Brady had retired, Arians weighed the possibility of an unproven QB room against his desire to see defensive coordinator Todd Bowles succeed him.

“I was going the other way. I was thinking [Brady] wasn’t going to play,” he said. “Had Tom not come back, I probably would still be coaching. I couldn’t give Todd that situation.” 

Instead, Brady un-retired, leaving Arians free to step aside as HC. Doing so allowed him to keep both Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich – whom Stroud reports Arians “expected ” to each receive outside head coaching jobs – in Tampa Bay, along with Brady. Arians said that the continued presence of that triumvirate made it “the perfect time” for him to retire.

Now, the two-time Coach of the Year is set to work in Tampa Bay under the title of senior advisor to the general manager, which should grant him a similar role to the one he desired, but was denied, in Arizona in 2018. “I’ll be here every day once the season starts,” he said. “But I won’t have to be here every night.”

It remains to be seen what Arians plans to do after the 2022 season, but for at least the immediate future, the transition plan he envisioned is in place.

Bruce Arians Stepping Down As Buccaneers HC; Todd Bowles To Take Over Role

Bruce Arians‘ stint on the sidelines has come to an end. Peter King of Football Morning in America reports that the Buccaneers head coach is stepping down and will take a front office role with the organization. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will take over in Arians’ place. The Buccaneers have announced the move, adding that Arians will take on the role of “Senior Football Consultant.”

“[S]uccession has always been huge for me,” Arians told King. “With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, with Tom Brady coming back … I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some [crappy] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it next February because [if] Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job … I got 31 [coaches and their] families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting all those families down.”

Arians also admitted that he considered retiring following the Buccaneers Super Bowl-winning 2020 season. Now, with Bowles still with the organization and Brady returning for another season (despite a brief retirement), Arians thought this was the appropriate time to step away from the sideline. As Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times tweets, Brady’s return helped “cement” Arians’ decision, as he wanted to hand over a championship-caliber team to his defensive coordinator. Arians said that his decision wasn’t health-related.

“It hit me after the Super Bowl,” Arians told King. “I thought really hard about going out on top. Then it was like, nah, let’s go for two. [The 2021 season] was a grind with all the injuries but still winning and getting to where we got. Immediately after, two to three weeks afterwards [I thought] … if I quit, my coaches get fired. I couldn’t do it then.

“Tom was kind of the key. When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into the front office and still have the relationships that I love.”

While Arians is saying all of the right things, it may be tough for some to take these statements at face value. Before Brady reversed his retirement decision, there were reports that the QB and his head coach didn’t see eye to eye regarding the offensive game plan. Citing those issues, some pundits were stunned when Brady decided to return to Tampa Bay for another season. While we’ll never know one way or the other, it’s easy to wonder if Brady’s return was connected to Arians’ “decision” to step down. As King notes, today’s news will “increase the influence of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Brady on game plans and play-calling,” so the future Hall of Fame QB will get his way, after all.

Arians, who will turn 70 in October, will finish his coaching career with a 80-48 record, including a 6-3 postseason record. Four of those playoff victories came during that Super Bowl season in 2020. Arians also had stints as the offensive coordinator with the Browns, Steelers, and Colts.

There were previous rumblings that Arians wanted Bowles to take over as head coach, but the accomplished defensive coordinator still flirted with head coaching vacancies around the NFL. Following an up-and-down stint as the Jets head coach, Bowlers was hired as the defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay in 2019. He has helped turned the Buccaneers’ defensive line into one of the best in the NFL. The Bucs ranked first in rushing yards allowed in both 2019 and 2020, and the defense has been top-10 in points allowed since the beginning of the 2020 season.

Today’s move will now open a hole at defensive coordinator. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). the likely scenario is that inside linebackers coach Larry Foote and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers will split defensive coordinator duties.

NFC South Notes: Wirfs, Trask, Saints, Gilmore

The Buccaneers cruised on Super Wild Card Weekend to a mostly stress-free victory over the Eagles in January. While they were all smiles on the field, in the locker room, Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs was preparing himself for a lengthy recovery. Wirfs left the game early in the first quarter with an apparent ankle injury and, soon after, found out that he had suffered two torn ligaments, including one off the bone, and was initially thought to need surgery to repair his ankle.

Well, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, a second opinion informed Wirfs that surgery was not necessary and, after receiving an injection in the ankle, he’s made progress in his recovery and is expected to avoid surgery altogether.

Here are some other notes from the NFC South, starting with another note from central Florida:

  • According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, head coach Bruce Arians has announced that quarterback Kyle Trask will be given a legitimate chance to replace Tom Brady in training camp. With the retirement of Brady leaving the position behind center wide open for the taking, the second-year player out of the nearby University of Florida will attempt to show his worth as the team’s second-round pick from last year. Veteran Blaine Gabbert spent the 2021 season as Brady’s primary backup, but he is heading back to the free agent market, unless Arians and company decide to bring him back. As of right now, Trask is the only active quarterback on contract in Tampa Bay. It has yet to be seen whom his competition will be.
  • On Monday, news dropped that the University of Alabama’s director of sports science, Dr. Matt Rhea, is expected to join the staff in New Orleans, according to Josh Pate of CBS Sports. Rhea has worked with the Tide for two years after a similar stint on staff with the Indiana Hoosiers. He also brings with him 13 years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach.
  • The Panthers acquired former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore via a trade with the Patriots last season. After overcoming an early quad injury to start the season, Gilmore put forth an impressive performance in eight games for Carolina. The Panthers would love to bring Gilmore back on a new deal, but, with Gilmore expected to draw offers up to $14MM, he is expected to test free agency, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Bucs Notes: Brady, Arians, AB

Over the past week, Mike Sando of The Athletic and former player (and current FOX Sports Radio host) Rich Ohrnberger both reported that recently-retired (?) Buccaneers QB Tom Brady had grown frustrated with some of the team’s coaching. Ohrnberger specifically delineated issues that Brady had with HC Bruce Arians, and he added to that narrative with a series of tweets on Saturday night. Per Ohrnberger, not only did Arians take a figurative red pen to the game plans that Brady and OC Byron Leftwich would devise together, but Brady and Leftwich also had significant disagreements, particularly with respect to the run game.

Ohrnberger further noted that there is a feeling of resentment towards Arians in the building, because he has a “much lighter work schedule” than others players/coaches. In his own Twitter thread, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times adamantly refuted Ohrnberger’s reporting, saying that Arians — now 69 and with a history of health problems, including a recent Achilles injury — accepted his post on the condition that he would not be heavily involved in the game-planning, and that he did not take a red pen to anything. Stroud added that Arians’ work schedule was lighter by design, thereby implying that no one within the organization resents him for it. In fact, Stroud says he has not heard anything from any player or assistant to lend credence to Ohrnbeger’s report:

Now for more out of Tampa, beginning (of course) with additional Brady-related items:

  • Arians himself fired back at Ohrnberger’s original reports on the matter (via Stroud in a full-length piece), though Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes this is a classic example of protesting too much. In Florio’s estimation, Ohrnberger — who played with Brady for three years in New England and who enjoys a close friendship with Buccaneers assistant coach A.Q. Shipley — has plenty of credibility here, and Florio is inclined to believe Ohrnberger’s take on the Brady/Arians rift.
  • And if Ohrnberger is, in fact, accurate, then that would obviously add more ballast to the rumors that Brady actually wants to play in 2022 and that he is simply trying to finagle his way out of Tampa. Indeed, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes, longtime Brady teammates Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman believe Brady will be back, though Volin suggests it will be with a different team despite what he classifies as a “great relationship” between Brady and the Bucs. Volin adds that Brady may also want to buy into an NFL ownership group, and he names the Raiders and Dolphins as possibilities in that regard.
  • Bucs receiver Mike Evans is on the team’s side when it comes to the divorce between Tampa Bay and fellow wideout Antonio Brown. In a recent interview with Matt Harmon of Yahoo! Sports, Evans detailed the moments leading up to Brown’s famous midgame exit in the Bucs’ Week 16 matchup with the Jets, and he indicated Brown’s departure was spurred by his lack of targets. “You know, he was saying he wanted the rock, and I mean, rightfully so,” Evans said. “But like, yo, come in the game, AB. … They’re calling for us, because me and him are both on the pitch count, because we’re both coming back from injury. And so I’m trying to get him to come in the game. And he doesn’t come. So I go back on the drive. I do my two plays. I come out. And then I see [Arians] still trying to get him to come in the game. And they had like a falling out somehow. And AB goes off. … So I’m telling him, please don’t go out like this. And they’re calling me to come back in the game. So I just left him alone like, all right.”
  • Now for one from the non-drama department. Per Greg Auman of The Athletic, the Bucs are promoting Tim Atkins from quality control coach to defensive and special teams assistant (Twitter link). Atkins was on DC Todd Bowles‘ staff with the Jets and has spent the last three seasons on the Bucs’ staff.

Latest On Tom Brady’s Retirement Decision, Buccaneers’ Plan At QB

When Tom Brady announced his retirement, he cited a desire to focus his “time and energy on other things that require [his] attention,” including his family and business ventures. However, there might be more to his decision. According to Mike Sando of The Athletic, the future Hall of Fame quarterback had “grown frustrated with some of the Buccaneers’ coaching.”

[RELATED: Tom Brady Has Not Ruled Out Playing In 2022; Bucs Interested In Wilson, Watson]

Meanwhile, former player (and current FOX Sports Radio host) Rich Ohrnberger tweeted that Brady and head coach Bruce Arians had issues seeing “eye-to-eye” regarding the offensive game planning. According to Ohrnberger, Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich would spend mornings working on the week’s game plan. Arians, meanwhile, would be rehabbing his Achilles injury, and the HC would later enter the offensive meeting and “take the red pen” to his OC’s and QB’s draft. Leftwich and Brady both felt “undermined,” leading to “tension” in the locker room.

Brady’s intensity, desire for perfection, and stubbornness has often led to tension with coaches. While he obviously shared the same championship-focused vision as Bill Belichick in New England, there were continuous rumors of issues between the two, rumors that seemed to be (partly) confirmed when Brady ultimately left the Patriots.

This reported tension with Arians has only fueled the fire regarding a potential Brady return. Either way, as Sando writes, his tenure in Tampa Bay is absolutely done, and the organization now has to figure out their QB situation moving forward. We heard recently that the front office could have their eye on big names like Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. NFL Network’s James Palmer reports (via Twitter) that the organization isn’t interested in pursuing a QB via the draft, mostly because the team is encouraged by the development of 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask.