Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles inherits a Super Bowl-ready roster and an experienced coaching staff, but he illustrated how he won’t produce a carbon copy of the team recently coached by Bruce Arians.
“I think if I tried to put on a Kangol hat and came in here and grew my goatee [Arians trademarks], you guys would look at me like I’m crazy,” Bowles told reporters on March 31 via Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times. “‘Look at this clown, he’s mini Bruce.’ I can’t do that, and I’m not going to. I’m not going to try.”
Bowles took over the Bucs head coaching job on March 30 after Arians suddenly stepped down for a front office role. In three seasons, Bowles turned the Bucs defense into one of the best in the league as a defensive coordinator. Other teams showed interest in hiring Bowles as a head coach for his defensive prowess.
“I’m just going to be me,” Bowles said in introductory press conference on March 31. “I cannot be [Arians]. I don’t expect to duplicate the things he has done. He has won a Super Bowl and a division. I want to duplicate that part. But probably with some tweaks in a different way. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat.”
“I’m just going to do it my way,” he added.
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Owning Failure on Day One
Bowles didn’t side-step two of his notable past failures as a coach in the NFL.
In his only previous head coaching job, Bowles went 24-40 with the New York Jets from 2015 to 2018, and the team fired him. Bowles then joined Arians in Tampa Bay as the defensive coordinator in 2019.
“I think when you take a head job [for the first time] you have to wear a lot of hats, but you had never experienced wearing those hats,” Bowles told the media. “When you understand that going in … without the experience I think you tend to do things a little differently. You have to be man enough to know when you can change things. Usually when people get fired they blame everybody else. The first thing I did was look within myself, and there were a lot of things I can do better.”
Bowles also acknowledged how his defensive scheme didn’t work in the final seconds of the Bucs’ Jan. 23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. The Bucs tied the game 27-27 but gave up a last-second field goal after a pair of deep throws by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to receiver Cooper Kupp.
“We were trying to win,” Bowles told reporters via Knight.
“I will never apologize for trying to win,” Bowles added. “If I didn’t call zone and [Stafford] got the play off, you’ll say I should’ve blitzed. ‘We blitz all the time, how come we didn’t blitz?’ That’s part of football, that’s coaching. You have to learn to make peace and live with it.”
Risk it for the Biscuit?
Arians became known for his slogan “no risk it, no biscuit” since he strongly encouraged his quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, to throw the ball down field often. Bowles won’t greatly depart from what Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have developed, as Knight noted, but there could be minor differences.
“I’m the head coach,” Bowles said via Knight. “I get to do whatever I want.”
Personnel could also factor into Bowles input. The Bucs will have a different offensive line with the departures of Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa. Russell Gage becoming the third receiver in place of Antonio Brown could impact the passing game strategy. Ke’Shawn Vaughn could have a bigger role at running back behind Leonard Fournette with Ronald Jones II gone. Tight end will look different — whether or not Rob Gronkowski returns — with O.J. Howard gone.
“My way is not rocket science,” Bowles said per Knight. “It’s like every other coach: You coach hard, you understand players, you try to put them in the best position to play football.”
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