Todd Bowles

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.

 

Vikings Request Interview With Rams’ DC Raheem Morris

Another name has been added to the list of potential head coaching candidates in Minnesota. The team has requested an interview with Raheem Morris, the current Rams defensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Peter Schrager). 

Morris, 45, has an NFL coaching background dating back to 2002. He has spent time primarily as a defensive backs coach, serving in that role in Tampa Bay (on two different occasions, including the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning squad) and Washington. However, he also took over as the Bucs’ head coach after the firing of Jon Gruden in January of 2009. He had an encouraging year in 2010, posting a 10-6 record, but the one preceding and following that campaign saw the team put up a combined record of 7-25.

After a three year stint in Washington, Morris got his next prominent coaching positions in Atlanta. He served as an assistant head coach and pass game coordinator from his arrival in 2015 to 2019. Then, in 2020, he became the team’s DC until taking over as interim HC following Dan Quinn’s firing. He interviewed to remain in Atlanta on a full-time basis, but the team ultimately went with former Titans OC Arthur Smith.

This past offseason, Morris was hired by the Rams to take over for now-Chargers HC Brandon Staley as the team’s defensive coordinator. His work in L.A. has prompted many to expect more head coaching opportunities, so it was surprising this is the first request he has received in the 2022 coaching cycle.

The news brings the total number of candidates linked to the Vikings’ HC vacancy to ten. Here is the updated list:

 

Vikings Request Permission To Interview Todd Bowles

We’ve got our first definitive candidate for the Vikings head coaching gig. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), the Vikings have requested permission to interview Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

We haven’t heard a whole lot about potential candidates for the Minnesota HC job since Mike Zimmer was fired. There was a report that Doug Pederson was expected to interview for the gig, but it remains to be seen if that interview will actually happen. With today’s news, we definitively know that the Vikings at least have their eye on Bowles. The defensive guru does have a kinda-sorta relationship to Minnesota’s organization; Bowles and the Wilf family (who own the Vikings) are both from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Plus, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets, Bowles was one of the Vikings’ leading candidates before they hired Zimmer eight years ago.

The DC is turning into a popular name on the HC circuit, as he’s already been connected to jobs in Chicago and Jacksonville. And for good reason, despite the fact that he would be a second-chance HC candidate. Following his Jets exit, he has overseen one of the league’s top defenses in Tampa Bay for the past three years. Bowles’ game plan helped the Bucs ground the high-flying Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

The Buccaneers gave Bowles an extension back in August, but the new pact didn’t “preclude him from taking another head coaching job.” There were rumblings that Bruce Arians would like Bowles to succeed him as Buccaneers head coach whenever he retires, but Arians might stick around too long for that to come to fruition.

Latest Bears’ Head Coach Interview Requests

The second wave of interview requests has begun for the teams who let go of coaches and executives yesterday. The busiest of those teams, so far, is the Chicago Bears. In addition to the requests they made on Monday after firing Matt Nagy, another seven interviews have been scheduled for the Head Coaching vacancy. 

[Related: Bears Request Interviews With Bills DC Leslie Frazier, OC Brian Daboll]

Just as the Bears are interested in both Bills’ coordinators, they have requested to interview both Buccaneers’ coordinators, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). OC Byron Leftwich has held his title since 2019, where he reunited with HC Bruce Arians. Leftwich was in charge of the Super-Bowl winning Bucs offense last season, and has helped the unit put up the second most points per game (30.1) in the league in 2021. DC Todd Bowles also reunited with Arians in 2019 in Tampa Bay, and played a crucial role in the Bucs’ smothering defensive performance in that Super Bowl victory.

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), another request was made to Colts DC Matt Eberflus, who has also been named as an interviewee with the Jaguars. After an impressive stint as the Cowboys’ linebackers coach from 2011-2017, Eberflus took the defensive coordinator position in Indy in 2018, and immediately helped turn that unit around.

Next on the list is Cowboys DC Dan Quinn (Twitter link via Pelissero). Quinn has since been linked with all four current Head Coaching vacancies, making him the most sought-after candidate so far. His work with Dallas’ defense in just one season – seventh in the league in points allowed per game, first in interceptions, to name a few statistics – has put him in line to get another HC gig one year after being fired by the Falcons.

Per Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport, Doug Pederson will also be interviewed (Twitter link). Pederson was fired by the Eagles exactly one year ago, and has also been linked with multiple teams. The 2017 Super Bowl winner, like Quinn, seems to have a good chance at rejoining the Head Coaching ranks during this hiring cycle.

Another popular name is Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett, whom the Bears will interview on Friday or Saturday, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). Breer notes that Hackett has also received requests from the Broncos and Jaguars, as the 42-year-old has overseen one of the league’s best offenses in Green Bay for the past two seasons.

Last, but certainly not least, recently fired Brian Flores has been added to the list of interviewees, according to Pelissero (Twitter link). After three seasons – including the last two with winning records – in Miami, Flores was let go in what has been the most surprising move of the coaching cycle so far. The Bears are not expected to be the only team interviewing the 40-year-old, though nothing has officially been lined up with any other clubs yet.