The man who helped orchestrate a defensive run through the playoffs and to a Super Bowl victory for the Buccaneers is looked at as one of the best defensive coordinators in the entire NFL – and Todd Bowles deserves another chance as head coach.
While his 67-game tenure as a head coach (3 games as an interim HC for the Miami Dolphins in 2011, and 64 games as the full-time HC for the New York Jets from 2015-2018) leaves a lot to be desired, a rehashing of former head coaching candidates that went back into the coordinator ranks happens all the time. The difference here is that Todd Bowles is a much better option than most of the second-chance HCs, and it is a shame that he was passed over for another opportunity.
Current Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians is not going anywhere anytime soon, so Todd Bowles will need to head elsewhere for an opportunity, but the interest that should have been there this offseason never showed up.
Alongside offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has a strong line of coaches that surround Arians – and while Arians certainly orchestrates the entire show, he deflects most if not all of the praise for this team’s success to both of his coordinators. They crushed the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, and Todd Bowles’ defense was phenomenal.
Having two African American coordinators leading a team is a great step in increasing racial diversity throughout the league’s coaching ranks, an issue that has been too prevalent for much too long in the NFL. With Arians, who has four Black coordinators (special team coordinator Keith Armstrong, Todd Bowles, assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, and Leftwich) and two women coaches (assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and condition coach Maral Javadifar) on his staff, diversity is a must and an element that needs to become common for the other 31 teams.
Todd Bowles has a solid track record that should very easily put himself on teams’ radars for their HC needs, and his defense ever since he took over that unit in Tampa has been outstanding, with this year’s postseason run the cherry on top.
A 26-41 record spread across his four-plus seasons as a head coach is nothing to write home about, but Todd Bowles was not necessarily handed true talent, especially during his time in New York with the Jets.
His first season leading the Jets in ‘15 was the lone winning season Todd Bowles produced during a full season, leading NYJ to a 10-6 record and a second-place finish in the AFC East. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Chris Ivory, and WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were his offensive leaders, while ILB David Harris, CB Darrelle Revis, and DT Muhammad Wilkerson led a strong defensive attack.
That 10-6 record was not enough to make the playoffs that year, and he only combined for 14 victories over his final three seasons with the Jets, putting up five, five, and four wins each of those seasons. But those facts are in the past, and what should be focused on for Todd Bowles is what he has done more recently.
He joined the Bucs in 2019 as their defensive coordinator and has helped turn this struggling unit around in just a three-year period, helping turn Devin White, Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Antoine Winfield Jr. into bonafide studs.
The Bucs have ranked as the toughest team to run against in both years under Todd Bowles (in regards to yards allowed) and they rank within the top seven in all major rushing defense metrics. On the passing game side, that is certainly where this TB defense is weaker, but a nine-spot increase in passing yards allowed and a ten-spot increase in interceptions forced shows how important forcing turnovers has become for Bowles to stop the pass.
There are going to be reservations about any previous HC that is looking to again make the jump from coordinator back to HC, but Todd Bowles has a big-time pedigree that has shown up on big stages in big moments. There is a reason that Tampa Bay made it to the Super Bowl this year and took down Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes to win the Lombardi trophy – that reason is Bowles.