It has been a whirlwind offseason for fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. First, they lost Tom Brady to retirement amid rumors that TB12 really wanted a trade to play for the San Francisco 49ers. Brady of course decided to unretire and will play for the Bucs. It just won't be for Coach Bruce Arians, who decided to retire to the front office Wednesday and promoted defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to head coach. Bucs 2022 NFL futures odds didn't change with this move: Tampa Bay is +800 at Caesars Sportsbook to win Super Bowl 57, +350 to win the NFC and -270 in the NFC South.
There had been rumors that Brady retired in part because of a bit of a strained relationship with Arians, but according to multiple reports this had nothing to do with Brady (some remain skeptical) as he was coming back regardless.
Arians finished with a 31-18 record in three years as Bucs head coach. His 56.4 percent against the spread mark (22-17 ATS), including playoffs, since the start of the 2020 season ranked fifth in the league. Arians' .633 regular-season winning percentage is the best in team history, ahead of Tony Dungy (.563) and Jon Gruden (.509). Arians had five playoff wins with the Bucs, and the team had a total of six before him.
Arians had retired from coaching in 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals, but came back after a year away to become the Bucs' head coach. He is said to be in good health, though he was limited by an Achilles injury for much of last season. The 69-year-old wanted to ensure that either Bowles or offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was his successor in Tampa.
"Tom (Brady)'s decision to come back, along with Jason and his staff doing another great job of keeping the core of this team intact during free agency, confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd," Arians said. "I began conversations with Jason and the Glazer family a few weeks ago about a possible succession plan. Their understanding and support mean the world to me. Todd is a great football coach and I know he will do excellent things here with the Buccaneers."
The 58-year-old Bowles was previously head coach with the Jets from 2015-18, going 24-40. That's obviously a terrible record, but here were Bowles' starting quarterbacks in New York: Ryan Fitzpatrick (27 games), Josh McCown (16), Sam Darnold (13), Bryce Petty (seven) and Geno Smith. Bowles has known Arians since he played for him 39 years ago at Temple. With a new head coach, Bucs are allowed to start their offseason programs two weeks earlier on April 4.
Bowles is the fourth minority head coach the Bucs have hired in the last 26 years, following Dungy, Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith. That's the most of any team in the NFL. Bowles also has a chance to join a very select group. Tom Flores and Mike Ditka are the only people in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach. Bowles won a Super Bowl as a player with Washington and as an assistant with the Bucs. The team is giving him a new five-year, head-coaching contract.
Are coaches/managers important to a team's success? Sure they are, but to oddsmakers they are essentially irrelevant. Players matter in game results/spreads, not coaches. Sure, there could be an occasional slight exception if, say, Bill Belichick was away from the Patriots for a game, but this writer can't remember a time when a coach/manager stepping down changed a team's futures odds. The move to Bowles should increase the influence of Leftwich and Brady on game plans and play-calling.
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