Shuffling The Cards

April 8th, 2022

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The Hall of Fame executive who steered Todd Bowles to his first head coaching job predicts Bowles will be successful the second time around in Tampa.

Todd Bowles’ Hall of Fame recruiter speaks out to Ira Kaufman.

In 2015, the Jets utilized Ron Wolf and Charley Casserly as consultants in their search for a new GM and head coach. While Casserly, a former GM in Washington and Houston, recommended ex-Texans scouting director Mike Maccagnan for the GM job, Bowles bowled Wolf over as a head coaching candidate to replace Rex Ryan.

Wolf, who earned his gold jacket in 2015 as a Hall of Fame contributor, already knew Bowles very well.

A year after Bowles ended his playing career, he was hired by Wolf in 1995 as a scout for the Packers.

“I brought him into Green Bay because I was so impressed with his knowledge of the game and his wherewithal in understanding talent,” Wolf told me from his home in Jupiter, Fla. “It was an easy hire.”

Bowles spent two years with the Packers before Doug Williams talked him into running his defense at Morehouse College — the start of a 21-year career as an assistant coach at various stops.

In Arizona, Bowles’ defense excelled under Bruce Arians for two years before the New York opening materialized. Bowles beat out five candidates for the Jets job as Wolf made a compelling case to ownership.

“It’s very simple why I was pushing so hard for Todd,” Wolf says. “He was an assistant with the Cardinals and they had just finished their season. He flies in one or two days later and he was already so familiar with the AFC, you couldn’t help but take notice of how smart he is, how well versed he was in the AFC East and what the Jets had to address. He was a very, very impressive interview.”

Josh McCown was alongside Todd Bowles in his past life.

By the numbers, Bowles was unsuccessful in New York, going 24-40 before his dismissal. Maccagnan lasted a few months longer before he was canned.

“To be honest, I was surprised Todd had problems in New York,” says Wolf, who drafted Lee Roy Selmon while serving as Tampa Bay’s GM during the franchise’s inaugural 1976 season. “I’m sure he’s not going to allow what happened to him in the first go-around to happen to him in Tampa. I know Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are, but it’s also about who you’re coaching.”

Instead of trying to work around the floundering Maccagnan, Bowles is now working with Jason Licht, who is on a hot streak as Bucs GM. Licht’s recent drafts and free-agent signings have been exemplary while any reference to Maccagnan among Jet fans is usually accompanied by an expletive.

For example, Maccagnan became intrigued with a quarterback out of Penn State in 2016. He selected Christian Hackenberg in the second round to compete against Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith.

Only one problem: the kid stunk.

Hackenberg was traded to the Raiders in 2018 and also had stops in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. He was out of the league at the age of 23 without ever taking a regular-season snap. In fact, Hackenberg is the only player selected in the first four rounds of the 2016 draft, regardless of position, who never played in an NFL game.

“My confidence in Todd is high because we’re talking about Todd Bowles,” Wolf says. “There are guys who are ready for these jobs and guys who aren’t. I happen to think he’s completely ready for it.”

Wolf can spot a poser from a mile away.

He left the Bucs in a dispute with former owner Hugh Culverhouse in 1978, returning to work for the Raiders before building the Packers into a championship team. You can’t work for more than two decades under Al Davis without the ability to differentiate between the frauds and the keepers.

In Wolf’s eyes, Bowles is a keeper. He was Bowles’ boss in Green Bay, where the Packers went 92-52 during Wolf’s nine seasons calling the shots. Wolf’s first order of business? He hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and traded for Brett Favre.

Yes, that bust in Canton is no accident.

Wolf believes in Todd Bowles and that faith hasn’t wavered in more than a quarter-century. As Joel Glazer says of any first-time head coach. you have to deal with the hand you’re dealt.

During his four years in New York, Bowles dealt with a lot of jokers.

Let’s see if he can shuffle the cards.

Yes, that warranty includes USED vehicles!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

12 Responses to “Shuffling The Cards”

  1. Deano Says:

    Hell yeah! Come on bowles shuffle the deck add some defense give Tom Brady what he wants 17- 0 and a super bowl, then he can throw the trophy across the Hillsborough River overhand. Ha

  2. WillieG Says:

    I hope Bucs fans don’t disrespect Bowles the way they disrespect Gruden:

    “He won with Arians team!”
    “He won because of Brady!”

    Etc, etc.

  3. bojim Says:

    no excuses

  4. Mike Johnson Says:

    Well, at least we know Bowles won’t be ridin around on a golf cart at every practice The man actually coaches.

  5. Red-sparrow Says:

    Spot on @Mike Johnson. Unlike that loudmouth BA.

  6. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Welcome, Red-Sparrow. Our latest BA troll. Try to come up with something original, please.

  7. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Sorry for the double post. It’s hard to understand the logic of this site’s inner workings. Comment now disappear after submission, which is different from earlier this morning. What’s up, Joe?

  8. Crickett Baker Says:

    BA did a LOT more than ride a golf-cart. You may, too, if you had a torn acl. Just ask his coaches and players about his HC performance. This was a very good article, btw, Joe, and I sure hope the guy’s opinions pan out! Go BUCS!

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I think Todd will do well as head coach here.
    He had little to nothing to work with at the Jets.
    He is inheriting a potential Super Bowl contender, and certainly a division champ

  10. Leopold Stotch Says:

    Partially torn Achilles tendon

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Actually, ira…..dealing with a lot of jokers….normally wild cards….a good thing…but we know what you mean.

  12. Buczilla Says:

    I love your articles Ira and your knowledge of the history of my favorite sport is unparalleled. I already had a ton of confidence in Bowles in that he can be a damn good if not great coach and the Wolf story just cemented it for me.