Todd Bowles

WR Notes: Packers, Brown, Agholor, Bucs

The Packers have had a more eventful offseason than nearly every other team in the league. One of the results of their moves is a decided lack of proven commodities at the receiver position, something which sparked quarterback Aaron Rodgers recent comments about the improvement which needs to be made amongst some of their new pass-catchers.

[RELATED: Packers Claim WR Fulgham]

“The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent,” the reigning MVP said, via PFF’s Doug Kyed“A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We’ve got to get better in that area.”

Per Kyed, Rodgers has stated they he wants Allen Lazard to operate as the “top option,” something which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given his NFL resume. Rodgers’ preference would be for Lazard to be joined as a starter by veterans Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb – a trio which would include, by far, the most experience available. However, rookies Romeo Doubs (who has seen first-team reps) and Christian Watson (whom the Packers traded up to select in the second round) could unseat Watkins and/or Cobb, leaving the team with more upside – but less certainty – at an important position as they look to contend for a Super Bowl.

Here are some more WR notes from around the league:

  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about the possibility of signing Antonio Brown yesterday. The former All-Pro hasn’t generated much interest since his colorful exit from the Buccaneers in the middle of a game last season, but would add experience to a banged-up Dallas receiver room. Instead, Jones replied “we want to give these young guys a real chance to make this team” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). A number of inexperienced wideouts are competing for depth spots behind the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washington and Jalen Tolbert, and will be allowed to continue doing so for the remainder of the preseason.
  • Kyed tweets that one of the surprise omissions from the Patriots’ depth chart, according to some, could be Nelson AgholorHowever, he notes that cutting him would not be financially viable (doing so would incur a dead cap charge of $10MM), and adds that teams which could be interested in trading for him are not willing to do so at his current salary of $9MM. More to the point, the team’s new offense could allow the 29-year-old to enjoy a bounceback season from the underwhelming 37-473-3 statline he produced last year.
  • The Buccaneers are set at the top of their depth chart, but also have a number of intriguing wideouts competing for rotational roles. As a result, veterans like Scotty MillerCyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman could find themselves on the roster bubble. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes that a trio of UDFAs – Jerreth SternsDeven Thompkins and Kaylon Geiger – have stood out in camp so far, to the point where head coach Todd Bowles said “those guys are making a case” for spots on the 53-man roster. Several noteworthy cuts will be made in Tampa by the end of August, but who will be among them remains very much up in the air.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022

Bruce Arians Discusses Coaches, New Role, TE Options

Bruce Arians has made it clear that his decision to step down as Buccaneers head coach wasn’t because of tension with his franchise quarterback. Rather, Arians has continually mentioned his desire for a clear succession plan when it came to the coaching staff, and he saw a golden opportunity to pass on the reigns to Todd Bowles.

“No it really wasn’t hard,” Arians said during a recent appearance on the “Eye Test For Two” podcast (h/t to JoeBucsFan.com). “[Winning a championship is] great, but succession was really, really big for me. It didn’t happen in Arizona. It meant the world to me to make sure 34 families had jobs beyond February. The Super Bowl wasn’t guaranteed, there’s nothing guaranteed, but now our guys have 5-year contracts. Todd’s got a 5-year deal and all the assistant coaches are set for the future.

“I was probably done anyway, so why not do it now? I know a lot of people think the Hall of Fame is the end-all, be-all and if it happens, that would be the most unbelievable thing to be able to wear a gold jacket. But this meant more to me personally.”

When Arians stepped away from his gig, it was assumed that the move was influenced by Tom Brady‘s decision to renege on his retirement and return for the 2022 campaign. Both sides have said that wasn’t the case, and Arians even said he would have reconsidered had he known Brady’s intentions before making his own decision. Passing on the job to Bowles seemed like a natural move, especially with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich still around to direct the offense.

With Arians no longer roaming the sideline, the long-time coach has transitioned into more of an advisory role. When Arians stepped down, his new role was described as “Senior Football Consultant.” The former coach indicated that he’ll still be interacting with both the coaches and the players, and he’ll naturally be able to take on a lesser role when it comes to game day:

“It’s a ‘What do you think?’ job,” Arians said. “Everybody asks me what do I think and they know they’re getting a brutally honest answer, whether it be [owner] Joel Glazer, [general manaher] Jason Licht, Todd Bowles or Byron Leftwich. It’s been fun going to practice, watching and learning some more, watching us change, looking at the new guys. Man, that draft class is going to be a home run. Looking forward to getting to camp.

“That’s the beauty of my job. I get to be in the locker room, get to be around the coaches every day and still have a big hand in the draft. The relationships were always the biggest thing for me. Building a new team, watching the new guys come in. Now, Sundays might be different sitting upstairs. I might be able to still holler loud enough to cuss out the refs from up there.”

Since he’ll no longer be responsible for devising a game plan, Arians will have more of an opportunity to contribute to team building. One of his more pressing issues will be figuring out how to proceed following tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s decision to retire. Fortunately, Arians doesn’t sound too worried about the team’s depth at the position.

“It’s a step back, that’s for sure,” Arians said. “[H]e’s a Hall of Fame player. But I really like the room right now. I love the young kids we’ve got in there and Cam Brate’s a good veteran player that Tom really trusts. Now, he’s not Gronk. That size and what he brings as a blocker and receiver I think is unmatched. You don’t replace that guy, but we also have Codey McElroy … I think it’s time for him to break out as a receiver.”

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.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Defensive Staff

During his first media availability since becoming the new head coach of the Buccaneers, Todd Bowles made a pair of notable, if unsurprising, announcements. Firstly, he will retain play-calling duties on the defensive side of the ball; secondly, defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote will share the role of defensive coordinator (Twitter link via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network). 

[RELATED: Bowles To Succeed Arians As Bucs’ HC]

Bowles had called Tampa Bay’s defense since his arrival as DC in 2019. The fact that he will carry on in that capacity as the head coach shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though it is rarer for defensive coaches to do so, compared to offensive ones. Seen through both traditional and advanced statistical lenses, the 58-year-old’s units have ranked amongst the best in the league during his tenure in Tampa.

For Rodgers, the promotion to co-DC will leave him in a familiar position with respect to Bowles. During the latter’s time as head coach of the Jets, Rodgers served as defensive coordinator. While their collective tenure there wasn’t nearly as successful as their time with the Buccaneers has been, that familiarity will go a long way to smoothing this transition. Rodgers followed Bowles to Tampa in 2019, having also coached the defensive line in Miami and Dallas.

Foote’s time working with the Buccaneers likewise dates back three years. With the 41-year-old on staff, the likes of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul have enjoyed plenty of success. The former Steeler, Lion and Cardinal began his coaching career in Arizona in 2015; the co-DC title will be the highest he has held during his time on the sidelines.

While the teams’ defensive staff will take on a new look in 2022, Tampa Bay’s coaching unit is in line to feature a good deal of stability. If all goes according to plan, they should be well suited to continue their level of play on that side of the ball, and in doing so remain a Super Bowl contender.

Buccaneers Giving HC Todd Bowles New Five-Year Contract

Following the sudden news that Todd Bowles will be taking over as the Buccaneers head coach, we’re learning that the former defensive coordinator got a new contract. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Buccaners are ripping up the final two years of Bowles’ contract and replacing it with a new five-year pact.

[RELATED: Bruce Arians Stepping Down As Buccaneers HC]

Bowles joined the Buccaneers as defensive coordinator in 2019, and following two strong seasons with the organization, he earned a new three-year deal last August. The new extension was finalized earlier today (per Schefter).

We learned earlier this evening that Bruce Arians was stepping down as Tampa Bay’s head coach and would be transitioning to a front office role. Following the news, Bowles released a statement thanking the Glazer family for the opportunity.

“I am appreciative of the Glazer family and Jason Licht for having faith in me to take on this role, and to Coach Arians for his support and guidance over the past four decades,” said Bowles (via the team’s website). “Tampa has become home for my family, and we are excited to remain part of this community for years to come. As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years. I am eager to get started with our players, coaching staff, and front office in preparation for the 2022 season.”

Bowles’ previous stint as a head coach didn’t go so well. He spent four seasons as the Jets head coach, including a first season where the Jets finished 10-6. However, New York collected only 14 total wins over the next three seasons, leading to his ousting. After taking over as the Buccaneers defensive coordinator, the team has ranked among the best defenses in all of football.

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.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Bucs To Start Post-Brady Rebuild?

With three-time MVP quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement earlier today, speculation has already started on the future of the Buccaneers’ franchise. Brady’s retirement has experts wondering about the futures of tight end Rob Gronkowki and head coach Bruce Arians. Both have flirted with retirement before. 

Contributing to the postulation on Arians’ situation is head coaching interest in the Buccaneers’ coordinators on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich recently had his second interview for the Jaguars open coaching position. Reportedly, talks have stalled as Leftwich has expressed issues with current general manager Trent Baalke continuing in that position, with Leftwich preferring Cardinals’ vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson to replace the polarizing GM. The Saints have requested an interview with Leftwich, who previously received interest from the Bears before they hired Matt Eberflus. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has interviewed with the Bears, Jaguars, Raiders, and Vikings. With the Bears’ job taken, Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels being the presumed frontrunner in Las Vegas, and Jacksonville having conducted multiple second interviews Bowles’ opportunities for a head coaching job are starting to dwindle, as well.

More cause for speculation has risen from an article from Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. In the article Wilson reports that Arians has informed the entire coaching staff that they have permission to seek jobs around the league regardless of whether or not the new position would be a promotion. With the potential exit of the two New England-legends and the impactful group of Buccaneers heading into free agency, this permission could potentially be an opportunity to abandon ship before the start of a Tampa Bay rebuild.

In terms of those free agents, joining free-agent-to-be Gronkowski are three other significant role players: wide receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, and cornerback Carlton Davis. Godwin is expected to be the top free agent priority in Tampa Bay after he received the franchise tag for this past season. Jensen came over three years ago from the Ravens on what then made him the highest paid center in the NFL. Davis was a key contributor due for a big contract year on defense before being placed on IR after Week 4 of the season and missing eight weeks during a crucial year.

The domino-effect of Brady’s retirement is already looming large over the Buccaneers’ prospects for the 2022 NFL season. Tampa Bay has the entire offseason to navigate these obstacles and mitigate the potential fallout. After winning a Super Bowl just last year, the departure of Brady could be as game-changing to the Buccaneers as his arrival was nearly two years ago.

Raiders Request To Interview Todd Bowles

One of the most sought-after coaching candidates has received another interview request. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders have requested to meet with Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles

Bowles has already been linked to the HC vacancies in Chicago, Jacksonville and Minnesota. The buzz around him shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course, considering the work he has done in Tampa Bay. In three years, he has overseen one of the league’s top defenses, which played a crucial role in the team’s Super Bowl championship last season. He signed an extension to stay on in his current role with the Bucs, but the door has always remained open for him to take a head coaching job if possible.

The Raiders, of course, have been connected to Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh since the beginning of the hiring cycle. They’ve also given interim coach Rich Bisaccia a chance to get the full-time position, as he interviewed last week to stay on board. Schefter adds that the interview with Bowles is set to take place in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Bowles, 58, had an up-and-down stint as the head coach of the Jets prior to coming to Tampa Bay. Given the interest being shown in him now, however, there seems to be a very good chance he will get a second opportunity to lead his own staff.