The shock of Bruce Arians’ seemingly sudden retirement has worn off. Now it is time for what’s coming next in the new Todd Bowles era. And while there is certainly uncertainty in this change, we have seen more than enough from Bowles to know what to expect. Based on everything we know, those expectations should remain high. Here’s what I mean.
Bowles has proven himself to be one of the best defensive minds in the NFL today. Look no further than what he has accomplished here in Tampa Bay. Bowles took over as defensive coordinator in 2019 when former head coach Bruce Arians came to town. The two had a history from their days with the Arizona Cardinals where Bowles was named the assistant coach of the year in 2014.
This time around, they inherited a defense that ranked 31st in points allowed the previous year. In his three seasons as defensive coordinator the team jumped to 29th in 2019, to 8th in 2020, and 5th last season. Bowles provided a similar jump in his first year with the New York Jets, taking their defense from 24th to 9th in points allowed.
It is fair to expect that the Buccaneers maintain their strong defense under Bowles. He has been one of the best coordinators in the NFL over the last decade and has had success as a head coach in terms of putting good defenses on the field. With his experience and the talent the Bucs have on the defensive side of the ball, expect this to be one of the best defenses in the league for years to come.
The New York Jets
One thing that is appealing about Bowles taking over as the Bucs head coach is that he has previous head coaching experience. Granted, his previous experience as the coach of the New York Jets didn’t go extremely well. His overall record was 24-40 over four years, which is underwhelming to say the least.
However, context is always important when talking about essentially anything. There were many organizational problems with the Jets that went well beyond Bowles. Dysfunction between the general manager and coaching staff prevented them from drafting players that gave the team a legitimate direction. This was most evident when it came to quarterback.
A blend of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Sam Darnold leading the offense was always going to be a recipe for failure. And as key members of the defense got older and moved on, not even Bowles could maintain his strong defense without the resources to replace that talent. In the end it resulted to his firing after the 2018 season, which of course led to him reuniting with Arians in Tampa Bay. From there, the rest was history.
It seems odd to say that nothing will really change after such a major change has been made, but that is the truth of it. The staff remains essentially the same. Kacy Rodgers, who was Bowles defensive coordinator with the Jets, will be promoted to co-defensive coordinator with Larry Foote. Byron Leftwich will have full control of the offense, as he essentially has over the past few years. Most of the roles and expectations among the staff will not change.
Additionally, this is an experienced team. They have many veterans and an established culture in the locker room. Even if Bowles were to not do a good job, which isn’t something I’d anticipate, I have zero doubt that this season will be business as usual as the team looks to win their second Super Bowl in the last three years.
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