Arians Retiring, Bowles Named New TB Head Coach

Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians
Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Surprising news out of Tampa today as Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has announced his retirement. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has been promoted to head coach. Peter King of NBC Sports had the news first.

Arians, 69, will stick with the Bucs as a "senior consultant for football." He finishes with a 31-18 record in three years with Tampa Bay, including a Super Bowl win in 2020. His .633 winning percentage and five playoff wins are both franchise records. He had previously gone 49-30-1 in five years as head coach for Arizona (the 49 wins are also a franchise record) and 9-3 as an interim head coach with the Colts in 2012, filling in for Chuck Pagano, who was out with an illness.

"[Succession] has always been huge for me," Arians tells 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.”

Bowles, 58, has spent three years as Arians' defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay after filling the same role for Arians in two years in Arizona. In between, he went 24-40 in four years as head coach of the New York Jets from 2015 to 2018. He also went 2-1 as interim coach with the Dolphins in 2011 after Tony Sparano was fired. 

Bowles, who is Black, would become the sixth minority head coach in the league, joining Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), Ron Rivera (Washington), Robert Saleh (Jets), Mike McDaniel (Miami) and Lovie Smith (Houston). "It is customary for teams to follow the Rooney Rule in coach searches," King writes, "mandating that at least two minority coaches be interviewed for every head-coach opening. Because this situation happened after the start of the league year in mid-March, and the NFL allows coaching interviews only after the regular season, it would have been precedent-setting for the league to allow coaching interviews now. The communication between the Bucs and the league on this issue is unknown, but the franchise feels comfortable enough after discussions with the league to confirm the Bowles hire."


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46 comments, Last at 05 Apr 2022, 9:13am

1 At first blush with not much…

At first blush with not much thought, I think he deserves Hall of Fame consideration. He's won in multiple places as a HC, which is extremely rare as a head coach 

3 Have zero clue

Why the league is obsessed with retreads. Bowles, Lovie, Allen, Pederson (kinda understand). Leftwich was right there.

What an insane club to break in to. Don't let anyone ever tell you new guys are the ones turning down even bad situations without any proof. They aren't. 

5 Belichick

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The answer to this is pretty much "Belichick".

And to be fair rightly so. It's apparent not just from his example but many others, that Head Coaches often fail because of poor rosters, general franchise setup etc. I wouldn't assume that anyone who failed at the Jets, Browns etc was necessarily a bad coach.

7 They only go back to find...a Belichick?

In reply to by LondonMonarch

Well I guess Gase is probably reering for a comeback. Mcvay rolling over in his future grave.

Also funny because Bill himself parlayed his Jets job to NE.

13   Speaking of retreads, I…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…


Speaking of retreads, I think it is important to remember the only reason Arians got to be a head coach was that Pagano got cancer and had to miss most of the 2012 season allowing Arians to show what he could do which is pretty sad.

14 Personally, I think the…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Personally, I think the stranger position is concluding that because a coach's first head coaching tenure was not successful (when the vast majority of teams hiring new coaches are bad teams to begin with), they shouldn't get a second chance. I don't follow the Jets closely but I don't get the sense that Bowles was an embarrassment there, just another guy who couldn't win with an incompetent organization. Since then, he's been successful as a DC. It wouldn't surprise me if he learned something from the experience in NY that makes him a better candidate now than he was then.

15 I'm sure he learned the same…

I'm sure he learned the same things John Fox learned. It's much better to have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as your QB than Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tim Tebow.

Since Pete Carroll's failures with the Jets happened so long ago, he clearly needs to relearn this as his qb is almost assuredly going to be a lot worse from now on.

38 Carroll Pats

In Carroll's 2nd gig he had a pretty good QB of prime age, but the Pats slowly descended into mediocrity over his 3 HC years, seemingly allowing Bill Parcell's work to slide away.  Didn't leave much for his successor, either, especially the OL (according to Dr. Z).

19 Didn't say they shouldn't ever

(I understood Pederson) But Leftwich has been good too. Waving  away failure with "Jets QBs" doesn't do much for me when Gase can say the same. Greats just get it done eventually.

Anyone can learn, so that  isn't a deciding factor for qualifying. Maybe he's just a DC. Give someone else a chance, thats also been a good coordinator, first.

41 Outside of cytha making a good point

Apparently he wants to run the ball more. No a great sign when you want to take the ball out of Tom Bradys hands (not a Mitch Trubisky) to put into the hands of a Leonard Fournette (not a Jonathan Taylor). What are we doing here?

Now if it just happens to be more running at the end of the year so be it. Game flow can dictate that, but one of your first statements/staples is to run the ball more? In 2022? Big yikes. They aren't going be successful because of him. They'll be successful because it's not really his roster, taking it over in (late) March. And if we're honest, it's Bradys he'll be piggybacking off of to be specific. Not a great or encouraging (re)introduction tbh but it'll fly under the radar because great QB plays covers a lot.  

25 ... But the Jets weren't…

... But the Jets weren't incompetent before Bowles getting hired. His predecessor went to the AFC Championship game twice. Prior to 2017 (Bowles' third year in charge) you have to go all the way back to 95-96 to find the last time the Jets had consecutive losing seasons. The Jets had been a middle of the road franchise for decades when Bowles became HC. Bowles is the only coach in Jets history to coach for more than two seasons without making the playoffs.

4 Well, Bowles is great at…

Well, Bowles is great at defense. As a head coach with the Jets he definitely didn't seem to help the offense much. With Brady around I imagine he can just focus on the defense. This is a good setup for him.

6 Tom & Timing

No comment on the odd timing of this move? 

Seems a very strange time for Arians to decide to retire of his own accord. Feels like the proximity to Brady's return might be not entirely coincidental.....

8 Arians says that Brady…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

Arians says that Brady coming back made him want to turn the job over to Bowles, because it meant Bowles would be starting from a good position. Why not take him at his word?

9 Brady was sick of Arians'…

In reply to by LondonMonarch

Brady was sick of Arians' style of coaching, and presumably unretired with the knowledge that Arians would be stepping down.

16 Especially since coachspeak…

Especially since coachspeak has never been one of Arians' faults.  My feeling has always been that Arians and Brady have had their moments -especially at first- but that did not prevent them from being able to work together, which is the important part.

17 Honestly, I think alot of…

Honestly, I think alot of the "XYZ players and coaches don't get along" stuff is just writers blowing minor things out of proportion to get clicks or to avoid a less interesting truth. (Same with Brady in NE) Even if there was some friction, I doubt it was anywhere near as bad as it's made out to be.   Every once in a while it seems real like Meyer but most I think it's just people looking for stories. 

11 I remain one of the few Todd…

I remain one of the few Todd Bowles optimists out there who thinks his tenure with the Jets says more about the Jets than it does Bowles. Consider, his four year stretch saw him with QB luminaries such as the plucky Ryan Fitzpatrick for two years, the immortal, now stealth HC candidate Josh McCown, and a rookie Sam Darnold who is now a confirmed bust.

You can read all of the above as an indictment of Bowles' lack of QB imagination, but much like Fangio, those moves look eerily similar to the typical modus operandi that franchise has embarked on for years before and years after. You have to go back to the salad days of Chad Pennington and play to win Herm Edwards to find a vaguely competent passing offense for gang green.

That said, this Bucs team he is taking over is sitting on a major fault line. Every year we all say it for a reason, Brady is so far into uncharted waters, he's practically sailing blind. At some point, he's going to hit the ice berg and then this whole roster is going to look like the 2016 Jets.

18 Yeah, Brady is totally weird…

Yeah, Brady is totally weird case. He's always been very borderline athletically, so you would expect there to be a massive cliff when that drops off.  

OTOH, maybe he found a way to succeed based almost entirely on mental processing and won't decline till his brain starts aging significantly so may actually play till he's 50.  

21 Sing Peyton Manning fall off…

Seeing Peyton Manning fall off a cliff suggests that you can only get so far purely by mental processing. If you don't have the requisite arm talent any longer, it just becomes moot. Same with Brees.

Watching Brady, his arm continues to look lively so it's not yet happened. Honestly at this age I thought he'd start to get hurt more as his body couldn't handle the same level of punishment.

23 It can go fast, though.Both…

It can go fast, though.

Both Manning and Brees went AP/MVP(1 or 2) in their last purely healthy season, a PB-level season in which they got dinged, and then their collapse season. Favre followed the outlines of this trend, but had a comeback season 3. His season 4 was the same as the Manning/Brees season 3 trend, though. Cunningham skipped season 2 entirely and went straight from 1 to 3.

Brady appeared to be on that curve in 2017-2019. I remain curious whether his snake-oil venture will turn out in the future to have been some form of doping, but we will see. 

The Brees/Manning decline curve remains a concern for Brady and Rodgers, who are in that age+mileage window where the decline comes fast.

26 ... Except that that is…

... Except that that is totally inaccurate summation of the end of Brees' career. Brees was ranked 7th in DVOA his last season. Seventh best in the league is a 'collapse season'? Huh?

It's particularly absurd to compare Brees and Manning. Peyton was 36th in DVOA his last season

I really don't know why so many people try to pretend like old QBs like Brees underwent the incredible collapse Peyton did when it just isn't remotely true.

33 Brees' end of 2020 looked a…

Brees' end of 2020 looked a lot like Manning's end of 2014. The season had been going well until an injury from which he never really recovered. Manning literally limped through one more season and Brees spared himself that embarrassment.

39 His arm was toast, man. That…

His arm was toast, man. That doesn't mean he wasn't still effective, but he was at a point where on most plays he had to decide almost immediately where he was going with the ball to be able to throw with enough anticipation to get it down the field on time. Having Kamara to check the ball down too also helped, obviously. At the end of the day I think Brees understood as well as anyone else that he wasn't going to be able to sustain that level of play as his arm continued to decline and that it was time to hang it up.

22 Eventually, wear&tear and/or…

Eventually, wear&tear and/or accumulated injuries rob you of your ability to drive the ball, and that will begin to affect mental processing time even if you can still get the ball there somehow. This is what happened to Manning.

He started throwing INTs because the ball stopped arriving where/when his brain thought it was going to.
You compensate by throwing harder, or with more windup -- that costs you both timing and accuracy.
Eventually, you start to hesitate when pulling the trigger because now your brain isn't certain whether or not you can make that throw.
That leads to turnovers or more sacks/wear&tear because you are lingering in the pocket in indecision. 

Favre and Aikman basically retired due to accumulated injuries.

Brees and Roethlisberger wore out to the point that they just couldn't get the ball there anymore. They turned into Pennington without the accuracy.

Rivers and Manning were more of a mental processing penalty. They could still make that throw by throwing with more effort, but it ruined their timing and accuracy.

Brady has generally enjoyed clean pockets, which has removed one of the major problem sources. He still has taken 600 sacks, though -- including the playoffs, he's the all-time sack king. And he has a lot of shoulder mileage. 13,000 attempts adds up.

27 Rivers was ranked 12th in…

Rivers was ranked 12th in DVOA his last season. No major collapse at all. In fact, since Rivers wasn't one of the very elite of QBs for most of his career, the decline is even less than it might seem.

12 The only evidence here is…

The only evidence here is the timing(which is odd, but you never know). Maybe those who follow the team closer know more.

I'd be ok Adrian's getting HOF consideration. His counting stats (wins) are low due to career length, but he was pretty succesfull during it.

32 The timing is evidence of…

The timing is evidence of what?

If he planned to retire and hand the job to Bowles, I think the timing would be perfect. As stated, they're not required to go through the coaching interview process now - pretending they are considering other people (and prevent the "that interview wasn't serious" fall out.)

Now they can just hand the job over like they want and prevent a Twitter Outrage About The Current Thing.



35 I guess because Bowles is a…

I guess because Bowles is a minority candidate there won't be any backlash, but I'm curious what this means for the Rooney Rule going forward. 

If a team wants to promote from within, and avoid a time-consuming (and sham) interview process, all they have to is wait until the league season officially starts and then retire the incumbent? Could the Saints have just done this as well?

If you're an owner with a ready-to-retire HC and a hot candidate beneath him, this seems like a perfect 'nudge-wink' way of avoiding the protocol and transitioning without risking either party having their head turned.


37 I suppose the Rooney rule…

I suppose the Rooney rule could address it if it starts becoming an issue, but it's such a rare case I don't see it happening. Given that it would make the interview process a sham, I'm not sure there is much point. 

40 Silly conspiracy theory of the week

(actually not the silliest, considering the numerous Arians-quit-for-Brady, Brady-leveraged-Arians-to-be-removed, Arians-quit-because-of-Brady idiocy prevalent in the universe)

The intent of the Rooney Rule is to promote the chance that a minority candidate receive, at least consideration, for the job of head coach.  In this case, a minority individual was given the job, without even cursory consideration, to any other (minority) candidate, or even those of white or female description.  I cannot make a sensible argument that the Rooney Rule was "circumvented". 

As for "loophole"; do you really think there are owners so opposed to a minority coach -- which can be so easily addressed within the inherent opportunity for tokenism within the Rooney Rule --  would actually sit by to March 1 and see his preferred white coach hired by a rival?



44 Isn't that why the Rooney…

Isn't that why the Rooney Rule was created? It basically functions as a consent decree or a show-cause order -- it exists because at least one party is/was a bad-actor. Basically, we so didn't trust you to do this on your own, that we created an inviolable rule regarding what you have to do and how because you chuckleheads couldn't do it properly when left to your own devices.

To the extent that this bypasses that rule, that seems like a flaw. You may like how this one turned out, but the camel's head is under the tent and the rest will follow.