Bowles’ future with the Bucs pointed that direction before the Bucs’ Wild Card debacle against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, January 16. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the Bucs planned to keep Bowles for 2023. Now, Bucs ownership, the Glazer family, could “mull” changing course, which would be a new precedent for them, according to JoeBucsFan.com.
The Glazers historically give a new coach at least two seasons. That’s amid many losing seasons and the many coaches whom Glazers have shown the door to: Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Lovie Smith, Dirk Koetter, Raheem Morris, and the late Sam Wyche.
None of the aforementioned coaches had a quarterback named Tom Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion with more playoff wins than almost all NFL franchises. None of those coaches took a core of players who won a Super Bowl two seasons prior and saw it sink to 8-9 and get bludgeoned in front of 30.6 million viewers on national TV in the playoffs.
JoeBucsFan.com wrote “it is a fair question after Monday night’s game to wonder if Team Glazer has seen enough” from Bowles after a 10th loss in 16 games. The Bucs trailed 31-6 in the fourth quarter and Brady’s late touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton came with 2:04 remaining, which allowed Brady to avoid surpassing his biggest playoff loss ever — 19 points.
Bowles Accountable for Bucs’ Offensive Demise
Brady’s multiple career worsts occurred under Bowles’ watch: Brady’s first losing season as a starter, his first three-game losing streak, a career low 9.6 yards per completion, and his biggest drop-off in touchdown passes from the previous season. Tampa Bay’s running game flat lined with last-place finishes in yards, average per carry and per game, and touchdowns.
While offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich took his share of heat for the Bucs’ dismal offense, Bowles’ handling of Leftwich could be in question. The Bucs considered firing Leftwich in October, according to Pewter Report, but didn’t. Leftwich notably served as the offensive coordinator for three seasons under previous head coach Bruce Arians, and the Bucs offense put up 28.6 or more points per game in all three of those seasons.
“If Bowles didn’t order Leftwich to change what he was doing all year, or if Bowles ordered Leftwich to not use the no-risk-it; no-biscuit offense for which this team was built to run, and Bowles can’t get his defense ready to play, what are we doing here?,” JoeBucsFan.com wrote.
Tampa Bay’s many injuries also can’t excuse Bowles and the coaching staff. Many teams reached and/or won the Super Bowl amid significant injuries.
The Bucs once beat a Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs squad, which had a banged-up offensive line, in the 2020 Super Bowl. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led his team to a Super Bowl win a decade earlier amid a slew of injuries on that squad. Brady helped the New England Patriots reach and/or win multiple Super Bowls amid injuries, including his longtime tight end, Rob Gronkowski.
There’s No Evidence That Things Will Improve Under Bowles
Bowles’ lack of success with Leftwich also raises the question how well Bowles could do if he makes changes to the coaching staff for 2023. Bowels couldn’t do that last year when he took the job on March 30 when Arians retired. JoeBucsFan.com also questions if the Glazers still want to give Bowles “a chance to choose his assistants” for 2023.
In Bowles’ previous head coaching job with the New York Jets, his teams never averaged better than 24.2 points per game. That happened in his first season, 2015, before the average dropped off between 4-7 points per game in each of the next three seasons. The Jets also went 10-6 in 2015 and never finished with more than five wins again under Bowles.
“You can be sure Team Glazer will mull this question. Team Glazer likes to take measure of where the arrow is pointing at the end of the year,” JoeBucsFan.com added. “Right now, with Tom Brady possibly leaving and seeing this terrible season, the arrow is surely pointing down.”