As it turns out, Tom Brady isn’t the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leader hanging it up this offseason. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is retiring from coaching and moving to the team’s front office as a senior football consulutant, the team announced Wednesday. He will be replaced by Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Arians reportedly informed his staff and players of his decision Wednesday evening.
Arians is retiring after eight seasons as an head coach, nine if you count the 12 games he coached as the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. There have been whispers of his potential retirement for years, but few saw it playing out like this.
Per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, teams would typically need to interview at least two minority candidates for a head-coaching vacancy, but because of the timing of the move after the start of the league year, the hire is allowed.
Todd Bowles’ second act as NFL head coach
This will be Bowles’ second stint as an NFL head coach, having previously coached the New York Jets for four seasons. He amassed a 24-40 record in that span and never made the playoffs despite a 10-6 record his first year.
Since the Jets fired him, Bowles has seen his stock jump back up thanks to his results in Tampa Bay, which included a Super Bowl ring in his second year. The Buccaneers’ defense has ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in points allowed in each of the past two seasons, up from 29th when Bowles first took over and 31st in the year before he came aboard.
Instead of, well, the Jets, Bowles, who is reportedly getting a five-year contract, will now take over as the head coach of a roster of a Super Bowl contender. Arians claims that was part of the reason he retired.
Bruce Arians: Tom Brady’s unretirement played role in decision
According to Arians, Tom Brady’s stunning decision to retire played a role in his decision to hang up his whistle. Specifically, he wanted Bowles to have the best roster possible and Brady allowed that to happen.
From the Times:
Arians said a pivotal moment in his decision came two weeks ago when future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady decided to unretire and rejoin the team. Arians said that gave him the peace of mind he needed to pass along the job to his longtime friend and colleague.
“[I don’t need to] win another 15 games for me to be happy,” Arians said. “I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some [bad] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it in February because [if] Brady gets hurt and we go 10-7, it’s an open interview for the job.”
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported Brady was told Arians planned to step down either the day the quarterback announced his return or the day after. The team reportedly insists the decision for Arians to unretire had nothing to do with Brady, but past speculation of a rift between Arians and Brady is going to leave only more questions.
Bruce Arians steps down as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach; Todd Bowles picked to be successor
Add this to the craziest, newsiest NFL offseason in modern league history: Bruce Arians, who coached the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV victory less than 14 months ago, is stepping aside to take a front-office role with the team effective immediately.
Tampa Bay will install Arians’ preferred successor, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, as the new head coach. Bowles, 58, previously coached the Jets to a 24-40 record in 2015-18, his only full-time head-coaching job. Bowles, who is Black, would become the sixth minority head coach in the league, joining Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), Ron Rivera (Washington), Robert Saleh (Jets), Mike McDaniel (Miami) and Lovie Smith (Houston).
Arians, 69, said his new job would be as “senior consultant for football,” and that gig will start with Tampa Bay’s 2022 draft prep.
The move comes as a surprise but perhaps not a shock. Arians, the most colorful coach in a buttoned-up pro game, said he started thinking about stepping aside at the NFL Scouting Combine a month ago. He is a prostate-cancer survivor and was hospitalized due to an illness late in his first head-coach tenure in Indianapolis in 2012. He’s suffering from a torn Achilles today. But when he explained his reasons, health wasn’t the big thing.
He said he’s relinquishing the Tampa job because “succession has always been huge for me. With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, with Tom Brady coming back … I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some [crappy] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it next February because [if] Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job … I got 31 [coaches and their] families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting all those families down.”
Arians explained his reasoning in a telephone interview with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Times.
He was scheduled to inform his coaching staff in an 8 p.m. Zoom call Wednesday, and he planned to send a message to his players explaining his decision concurrent with telling his coaches.
In a way, Arians said, Brady coming out of retirement encouraged him to move on. In a 25-minute conversation, Arians explained the reasons for this decision dated back to February 2021.
“It hit me after the Super Bowl,” he said. “I thought really hard about going out on top. Then it was like, nah, let’s go for two. [The 2021 season] was a grind with all the injuries but still winning and getting to where we got. Immediately after, two to three weeks afterwards [I thought] … if I quit, my coaches get fired. I couldn’t do it then.
“Tom was kind of the key. When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into the front office and still have the relationships that I love.”
Arians said he has wanted Bowles, the architect of the Bucs’ suffocating 2020 defense that held Kansas City to zero touchdowns in a 31-9 Super Bowl win, to succeed him whenever he chose to step down. Arians also wanted Bowles to have the benefit of a great quarterback on the roster to give him the best chance to win. The Bucs’ owners, the Glazer family, agreed. The Bowles hire would be the fourth full-time minority coach hired by the Glazers (Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris, Lovie Smith, Bowles), which is the most in NFL history. No other team has had more than three non-interim minority head coaches.