Todd Bowles’ Path to Becoming Buccaneers Head Coach


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently promoted defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to head coach. The move came shortly after Bruce Arians announced he was stepping down as head coach. So how did Bowles’ football career bring him here to coach the Buccaneers? It all started in back on the 80’s in Philadelphia, Temple University to be exact.

Early Years

In 1982, Todd Bowles started at Temple University at defensive back, and he stood out almost immediately. After Bowles first year the late great Wayne Harding stepped down and Temple decided to hire young Alabama assistant Bruce Arians and that decision has single-handedly changed the football landscape. Bowles went undrafted in the NFL, but secured a spot to play in Washington. He played in 117 regular season games, started 82, and had 15 interceptions, plus seven fumble recoveries. 

After Standing out for a couple of years and winning a Super Bowl, he decided to move on to a coaching career. Bowles started out as a player personnel staff for the Packers in 1995 and in 1996 in that same role he won his 2nd Super Bowl ring and immediately cashed in. After that success, he had the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator for head coach Doug Williams (yes, the same Doug Williams in the Bucs ring of honor) at Morehouse and Grambling State.

After a stint with the Jets as a positional coach, he re-grouped with Bruce Arians and became a defensive assistant. Add in a couple of short stints with the Cowboys, Dolphins and Eagles, he found himself back with Bruce Arians, this time as a Defensive Coordinator for the Cardinals. In 2014, the Cardinals’ offense was pummeled with injuries and the defense had to pick up the slack. Bowles defense more than did that and ranked in the top-5 in total defense. The 2014 Cardinals finished 11-5 despite their starting quarterback only playing six games. After that impressive season, the phone rang and Todd Bowles got a shot to be the head coach of the jets. 

Doomed for Failure

The first season was a sign for great things and the future looked bright. The formerly 4-12 Jets were sitting at 10-5, with Todd Bowles at the helm, and just needed to win their last game against the Bills to make the playoffs. In what was a microcosm for Bowles head coaching career, the Jets defense only allowed 22 points to a top ten offense but, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a horrific day passing the ball going 16-37 with three interceptions. The Jets lost 22-17 and missed the playoffs. 

The following years, the Jets plummeted back to obscurity, and it was caused by the awful quarterback play. In 2016 the combination of Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Geno Smith threw 16 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, numbers that would make any team bad. After years of watching Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Sam Darnold run the team into the ground, Bowles was fired, but as fate would have it, it may have been his luckiest break yet. 

New Day in Tampa Bay

Shortly after Bowles was fired in New York, Bruce Arians would get an offer to come out of retirement and coach the Bucs. Arians agreed and immediately hired Todd Bowles as a defensive coordinator. Buccaneers fans welcomed Bowles with open arms. The first year in Tampa was a rough one, but behind the curtain, the defense played well. In the off-season, the Buccaneers would get a competent quarterback to lead the offense.

Playoff Run 

The 2020 season saw the end of the dreaded playoff drought and the team looked poised to go on a deep run. The Buccaneers defense played so well during this run, they earned the moniker “the grave diggers”. The Super Bowl performance against the Chiefs was one of the most dominating and suffocating defensive games ever. 

A New Captain

When Bruce Arians suddenly retired, it was obvious who would be the next head coach. Todd Bowles has the experience and players love him. When he was in New York coaching the Jets, players always said, “He’s a coach you want to play for.”. It’s fair to say that Bowles never had the chance to succeed in the NFL. He never got to coach a good team or for a team with a competent front office. With the Bucs he has both. Bruce Arians stated, ”So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn’t want that for Todd”. With a talented roster and little coaching turnover, Bowles is in prime position to prove all the doubters wrong and win a Super Bowl.

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