Two Fresh And Pressure-Filled Starts

June 7th, 2022

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Every time Tom Brady grips a football this season, he’ll hold the ultimate fate of two men in his right hand.

If Brady remains healthy and productive, the 2022 Bucs figure to flourish. That would be very good news for Tampa Bay fans in general and a pair of coaches in particular, both with points to prove.

Unlike most minority candidates, Todd Bowles has been given a second chance to succeed as an NFL head coach. His first time around, during a 4-year tenure with the Jets, he wasn’t blessed with an elite quarterback.

Now, he has Brady.

Head coach Todd Bowles

So if the Bucs fail to make a deep playoff run with a healthy No. 12 under center, the Glazers won’t look at Bowles in quite the same way. Bowles will have more than one season to showcase his stewardship, but 2022 will surely be telling for ownership.

If Tampa Bay flames out and Brady departs, this roster faces a housecleaning.

While Bowles embraces a second opportunity, Byron Leftwich awaits his moment. Despite two years of historic production at One Buc Place, Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator remains an assistant.

And while the Bucs don’t want to lose Leftwich, many in the organization are floored he’s still here.

Why? Fair or not, Leftwich’s profile has been diminished in the large shadow cast by Bruce Arians, who hired Leftwich as a coaching intern with Arizona in 2016. Leftwich served as quarterbacks coach in 2017 and remained on the Cardinals staff after Arians left the following year, bumping up to interim offensive coordinator in midseason.

When Arizona started over following a 3-13 disaster, Arians hired Leftwich in Tampa.

“I wouldn’t have taken the job if it weren’t for Jason Licht and probably wouldn’t have taken the job if Byron wasn’t available,” Arians said.

The reunion proved worthwhile.

When Jameis Winston wasn’t turning the ball over, the 2019 Bucs averaged 29 points per game. Then Brady came along and the offense became even more prolific, capped by the franchise’s second championship.

That triggered a madcap media scramble to determine who truly deserves the accolades for all those touchdowns — Brady, Arians or Leftwich.

A week before the Super Bowl, Arians addressed the speculation.

Playcaller/coordinator Byron Leftwich

“I think I get way more credit and so does Tom Brady for the job Byron has done,” Arians said.

Unlike Arians, Bowles doesn’t have an offensive background. As a senior advisor, Arians figures to maintain a low profile until Bowles is smart enough to seek his advice.

Realism Prevails

Owners and general managers will look at Leftwich through a different prism in 2022, even as Leftwich insists nothing has changed. Still, he’s a realist. He knows perception often trumps reality when it comes to the hiring process.

“I guess I’m an offensive coordinator with an offensive-minded head coach, so guys think the head coach is leading the offense,” Leftwich said of his plight the past three seasons. “But it was nothing even close to that from the time I walked in, in 2019 with Jameis. It’s been me full-go. I’m just no-risk-it, no-biscuit, too. Same thing, same thing. Everything should be status quo.”

Not everything.

If Tampa Bay ranks among the NFL’s highest-scoring teams with a 45-year-old Tom Brady, Leftwich will receive his full due. The league’s movers and shakers will look at Leftwich’s handiwork differently with a defensive coach like Bowles at the helm.

By stepping aside, Arians has given Leftwich a huge step forward in pursuing his dream.

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12 Responses to “Two Fresh And Pressure-Filled Starts”

  1. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Anyway you look at it, the offense will have a tough start to the season – Godwin likely out the 1st month, no more AB, 2 new guards on Oline and a year older Gronk or no Gronk at TE.
    The offense will definitely improve as season goes on, but the D and Special teams will have to step up the 1st month.

  2. D-Rome Says:

    That triggered a madcap media scramble to determine who truly deserves the accolades for all those touchdowns — Brady, Arians or Leftwich.

    Nice article Ira.

    In my opinion it’s all three just like it was in New England all those years (Brady, Belichick, McDaniels). Apart from the 2007 season Brady has thrown more TD passes in a single season in Tampa than he did in any of the 19 other seasons he played in New England. He also threw the most yards of his career in a single season in Tampa. It’s all three.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m not surprised BL has been jilted at the HC alter….He can’t take credit for BA & Tom Brady’s success……

    I know I’ll receive heat on this….but Byron Leftwich is an embarrassment because of his butchering of the English language. A HC position is an executive position with great public speaking demands.

    Yes….it’s football and you can excuse that for players & assistants….but Head Coaches are held to a higher standard.

    You can’t name a HC who has less command.

  4. Bucsfanman Says:

    Yeah, I think all of them deserve credit.

  5. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    “…Unlike most minority candidates, Todd Bowles has been given a second chance to succeed as an NFL head coach…”

    When I read that, I could not help but think of Lovie Smith… A bit off topic, I am sorry, but HOW on earth has Lovie been given 3 chances as HC in the NFL??? Even with the MANY bad coaches the Bucs have had, Lovie has to be in the top 3 in terms of BAD coaches.

  6. Craig Says:

    Crazy is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Like running one first down, trying a deep out of 2nd down, and trying to pull up the slack on third.

    BL does that way too often. He will not get head coaching job because of standing next to Brady. He will need something like raising Trask to an elite level on his first run as starting QB.

    If he keeps pushing Gabbert, he is in for an epic fail.

  7. D-Rome Says:

    I am sorry, but HOW on earth has Lovie been given 3 chances as HC in the NFL???

    It’s because he’s the 3rd best coach in the Bears’ 100 year history behind George Halas and Mike Ditka. Over the past 50 years Mike Ditka is the only coach that brought more success to the Chicago Bears than Lovie Smith. Let’s not forget that he got the Bears to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as his starting QB. If you don’t remember Rex Grossman that’s the equivalent of any team making it to the Super Bowl with Mike Glennon as their starting QB.

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Bowles hasn’t even coached a game and you’re suggesting failure and a change? With friends like you, who needs enemies.

  9. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    It would be an interesting turn of fate if Brady got hurt and Trask stepped in and had a great season. I wonder if that’s what we would need to avoid a tear down. I would love to do what the pats have done, somehow continue to contend year after year.

  10. atlbuc28 Says:

    D-Rome – The Bears were horrible after Ron Rivera left in 2007. Rivera had an attacking defense, that carrier over to Carolina panthers. At the same time Lovie stuck with the soft coverage Tampa 2. IMHO

  11. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    Lovie may have been good with the bears … At first. .. but I think it all went to his head.
    Bottom three BUCS coaches:
    #1: Lenient Leeman Bennet. Softest team ever. Injured players used to JUMP at the chance to play against the BUCS to bulk up their stats.
    #2: Sir Ray Perkins sir: Biggest egomaniac EVER. I was friends with a guy who delivered paper there. People really had to walk on eggshells around this fool. He claimed that workers had to address him as sir Perkins sir, but that might have been a slight exaggeration … Maybe. One draft a player he wanted was taken just ahead of his pick. In a rage he commanded: just get me the fastest corner left out there, who happened to be Rod Toast Jones.
    #3: tied between Lovie, Richard Williamson and Sam the sham Wycht.

  12. Wade Landry Says:

    To TBBF…his use of the English language?!…wtf and what are you listening to…BL is more than suited to be a H.C.and the face/voice of an NFL team…I can’t image why you or anyone else would find his verbal presentation problematic…I won’t even venture down the obvious path as to understanding your statement…WOW!…