In any other offseason, news of the greatest quarterback in NFL history retiring and then unretiring, as well as a head coach a year removed from a Super Bowl victory retiring would dominate the NFL news cycle. But this year, the most hectic offseason ever, the news from Tampa Bay has gone fairly under the radar.
New head coach Todd Bowles inherits one of the best rosters in the NFL, and any team with Tom Brady lining up under center has a better chance than most to win the Super Bowl. But there are still questions regarding Bowles’ ability to lead a team given his unsuccessful tenure at the New York Jets.
According to betting sites, the Buccaneers are +800 to reclaim their crown from the Rams, and fans will be keeping a close eye on the Bowles/Brady tandem as they look to win it all this year.
Bruce Arians’ Succession Plan
When 69-year-old Bruce Arians shocked the NFL world by announcing his retirement on March 30, he jovially said “when you know it’s time, it’s time.” He made it clear how important succession was for the Buccaneers organisation, and he supported his longtime assistant coach and friend Todd Bowles.
Arians said: “A number of people have already asked, why are you stepping away from a chance to go to the Hall of Fame and win another Super Bowl? Because I don’t give a s— about the Hall of Fame. Succession is way more important to me. This has been my dream for a long time.
Guys that know me, they knew I wanted one of my guys to take over. And that’s more important to me than anything, and have a place that I could go and be welcomed back. And obviously, I have a job now and the title’s pretty good. We’ll figure out what the hell it means, but it’s pretty damn good. And I get to stay and have the relationships that I love, and I couldn’t turn it over to a better person. We’ve been together, I’d hate to say how many years, age both of us. Todd’s going to do a great job.”
A Very Brady Assist
Tom Brady’s decision to unretire made that succession plan a lot easier, giving Bowles the opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl, rather than start fresh with a new quarterback. “I felt very comfortable after talking with Tom that the franchise was in great shape,” Arians said. Brady was extremely complimentary about Arians after the announcement, writing on Instagram: “You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you. You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive.”
Can Bowles Continue Arians’ good work?
When Todd Bowles was announced as the new head coach of the Buccaneers, he said: “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.
“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.”
The big difference facing the Buccaneers is going from a vaunted offensive mind in Arians to a defensive coach in Bowles, which some fans fear may affect the offensive output of the team. However, with Byron Leftwich still in charge of the offense, the hope is that they will continue with their throw first mentality. Bowles’ time in New York as head coach of the Jets ended with him being fired after four seasons, and many believed that after three straight losing seasons, Bowles wasn’t cut out for being an NFL head coach.
However, given the Jets’ terrible performances since Bowles left, maybe he wasn’t entirely the problem. Bowles turned a bad Bucs defense into one of the best in the NFL, and with returning superstars such as Vita Vea, Devin White, Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett and Antoine Winfield Jr., the expectation is the Bucs will continue to be a dominant force.
Obviously the return of Brady is the biggest and most important offseason move to keep the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl hunt, and it’s already paying dividends. Center Ryan Jensen and cornerback Carlton Davis opted to sign new deals as soon as they found out Brady was returning, and while both of the Buccaneers’ starting guards Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa have left, there is still plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Tampa Bay.
Other returning players were running back Leonard Fournette and wide receivers Chris Godwin and Breshard Perriman. Brady was also vital in getting free agents to join the Bucs to chase a ring.
Wideout Russell Gage thought he was being prank called when Brady rang him to discuss joining the Buccaneers. At his introductory press conference, Gage said: “For a minute, I thought it was a prank, somebody was trying to pull one on me. I had just seen some fake news on social media so my mind was kind of on fake news, so then when I got the call it was kind of like, ‘Alright.’ I’m in a state of shock and I’m stuck between, ‘O.K., this is unreal,’ and ‘this is not funny!’ Just trying to navigate my way through that, and then as we got going, I realized, ‘O.K., this is something serious.”
The Buccaneers shored up their offensive line with a trade for Patriots guard Shaq Mason, and the signing of Aaron Stinnie. Other signings that will improve the Bucs were safety Logan Ryan and running back Gio Bernard.
The Brady Factor
The truth is, any team that has Tom Brady playing quarterback for them has every chance of winning a Super Bowl, and Todd Bowles has earned the right to lead a team that is fighting for those honours by being an elite defensive coordinator. While things may look a bit different in Tampa this year with no Arians, there’s no doubt that they will be fighting to take back their crown in 2022.
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