“Loyal Myrmidons,” Jason Licht & Todd Bowles Assistants

July 5th, 2022

Bucco Bruce Arians’ “guys” shouldn’t have to be Todd Bowles’.

A few executives rather close to Bucs general manager Jason Licht shared some of their philosophies on assistant coaches and Joe’s interest was piqued.

Joe has been inhaling the GM Journey podcast series hosted by former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. What an education it has been as Dimitroff interviewed NFL GMs in a way that Joe believes is unprecedented.

During a chat with Cardinals GM Steve Keim, Jason Licht’s former boss, Dimitroff brought up the subject of GMs getting invovled in hiring assistant coaches. He talked about how head coaches like “their loyal myrmidons next to them,” but a GM must set boundaries when it comes to the head coach hiring friends.

Keim took the discussion a step further and said ownership also should be involved when it comes to key assistant coaches. (Yes, ownership!?!?)

Keim said he and Bucco Bruce Arians had a “mutual respect” in Arizona and Arians brought in his own guys, but when Kliff Kingsbury was hired as Cardinals head coach, Keim said he was “very involved” choosing assistants.

Keim said he’s leery of coaches hiring friends and family because it becomes too hard to fire them.

“It’s what sort of turns our stomachs in this business, but it’s what is necessary to have success at your particular organization,” Keim said. “And [hiring friends and family] can cloud your judgment at times.”

Former Licht right-hand man Jon Robinson, the Titans GM, talked about how his team is on its third offensive coordinator in five years and that it’s critical to groom coaches from within the organization. The last two Titans playcallers were in-house promotions after Matt LeFleur left for the Green Bay head coaching job.

All this got Joe thinking about Todd Bowles’ staff. Realistically, Bowles had no time to make staff changes or to work with Licht (and Team Glazer??) on evaluating and crafting a staffing plan for the future.

Arians, however, crowed about making sure “my guys” have jobs locked up for years after he quit in late March.

That sounds nice and the Bucs have a strong staff, but Bowles deserves the respect and latitude to forge his own path and to hire the best possible coaches.

Joe has picked on Bucs special teams coach Keith Armstrong previously. Is he the best available special teams coach? There’s no evidence to say he is and Bowles knows how impactful a great hire at special teams coach can be. Bowles’ 2016 special teams hire with the Jets, Brant Boyer, may be the best in the game and has survived multiple head coaching changes in New York.

Joe hopes Bowles and Licht have a firm plan when it comes to hiring/retaining the best assistants, regardless of whether they’re trusted old coaching buddies or not.

In seven months, the Bucs might be seeking an offensive coordinator and a new direction for that side of the ball without Tom Brady. Hopefully, the best interest of the franchise is the only thing that will matter when/if that decision is made.

12 Responses to ““Loyal Myrmidons,” Jason Licht & Todd Bowles Assistants”

  1. GOB Says:

    Nepotism is rampant across the league. It should be a merit based system, but it isn’t. Head coaches largely want yes men, and buddies as assistant coaches. Why? because it insulates them. Head coaches don’t want guys on staff, that could potentially steal their job if things go south. No better example exists than in New England. Bill has surrounded himself with family and, guys that owe their coaching careers to him.

  2. David Says:


    Completely disagree. It’s not about insulating it’s about hiring people that know your system, do things the way you want, and people you can trust to delegate to.
    New England is a bad example because there has been a long list of coaches leave there to be head coaches elsewhere. Any one of them could have become a head coach in New England if the owner became disillusioned with Bill.

    I disagree with the whole premise. I don’t think the owners should be involved AT ALL. The vast majority are not football people. How well has it gone in the playoffs since Jerry Jones got involved in Dallas?

    I think the GM and the coach should both have input on the coordinators and then bring in the coordinators to have input on the coaches below them, so on and so forth. The coach should have ultimate say though.

  3. cavillator Says:

    I’d be willing to bet Todd Bowles had a huge hand in hiring his defensive staff when BA hired him. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there’s a post-Bowles succession plan.

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    “leery of coaches hiring friends and family because it becomes too hard to fire them…. [hiring friends and family] can cloud your judgment at times.”

    Yea – Bucs fans know all about that crap…..

    2 years putting up with the sheer horror of Lovie’s friends and family plan – and then 3 years of Koetter’s buddy Mike Smith running (ruining?) the D turned our once proud defense into a nightmare on Sundays for FIVE straight years!

  5. Buccos Says:

    I wonder what Bill Belichek’s record would be without Tom Brady. Is he really a great coach or was he just a beneficiary of the GOAT? I remember when Belichek started out with the Cleveland Browns and didn’t last too long before he got fired. Personally I think that the debate over who was most responsible for New Englands championships has already been answered when the Bucs won the SuperBowl while New England missed the playoffs. The Pats should have let Billy Boy go and kept Brady. They dropped their cookie and Jason Licht was right there to scoop it up.

  6. PassingThru Says:


    While there have been examples of successful family hires by a head coach, it is a terrible practice for the reason stated in the article. It’s all but impossible for a head coach to be objective about his son, and of course, firing the son would likely damage family relationships.

    In the case of New England, there are two competing rumors on why Malcolm Butler was benched during Super Bowl LII. One of the theories asserts that Malcolm Butler didn’t respect Steve Belichick, and mouthed-off during practice. For that reason, Butler was benched, which was a fatal move as the Patriots had already lost one of their starting CBs. As a result, a third-rate QB (Nick Foles) had his way with the inept New England understudies.

    And of course, in the playoffs last season, Buffalo destroyed New England. Buffalo never punted once the entire game. Who was defacto defensive coordinator? Steve Belichick. Was there a day of reckoning for Steve Belichick? No. And in case you were wondering, Bill Belichick refuses to name who was responsible for those game calls, and he refuses to name a defensive coordinator this season. Bill even refuses to name an assistant who will make defensive calls from the sideline.

    Bill now has two of his sons working the sidelines.

    You cannot avoid nepotism in any business, even public corporations. But at least in the NFL a head coach should pick up his phone and call one of his coaching friends in the NFL or college if he wants one or more of his sons to coach football.

  7. David Says:

    Passing Thru

    That’s all fine but that’s not what the discussion was about. Yes GOB used the term nepotism but I didn’t take it for the literal sense of the word. I’m just talking about hiring like BA does, coaches he knows, coaches that are in the same system as him, coaches that he trusts. I was not talking at all about someone hiring a son or daughter. I completely understand why that is a problem. True nepotism happens everywhere in every single industry and business and politics

  8. westernbuc Says:

    I’m not sure how Steve Keim still has a job considering his teams haven’t been impressive since Carson Palmer/BA were there and the fact that getting a DUI seems to be a prerequisite for working in AZ’s front office.

    GM/Owners should definitely override coaches when there’s an obvious problem, like Mike Smith, but most owners don’t know squat about football and most GMs are looking to keep their own job. Let coaches coach.

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    David … ‘Completely disagree. It’s not about insulating it’s about hiring people that know your system, do things the way you want, and people you can trust to delegate to.’

    I agree with you, and especially about hiring ‘people you can trust to delegate to’. But I think that it goes even deeper than that for SOME coaches, like Bruce Arians. And yes, Tony Dungy. For SOME coaches, their ‘big picture’ is quite different (and more complex) than for most. Both were ‘pace-setters’ (in different ways), and developing their assistant coaches was a critical focus area for both of them. And I’m convinced that both of them viewed having a strong, involved coaching staff was the first (but not only to be sure) key element to creating a winning legacy that endures.

    As far as ownership being involved in hiring assistant coaches goes, I think that the vast majority of NFL owners could care less about being involved in hiring decisions at that level. They’re successful BUSINESSMEN who know how to delegate. You don’t become successful (or stay successful) by doing your subordinates’ work for them. A few have gotten too deeply involved over the years, but the results were almost never good.

  10. Bob in valrico Says:

    I agree with Defense Rules. I don’t believe it’s a necessity for owners to get involved, other than installing a good GM that has a grasp of the owners wishes
    and can be an effective link between coaching staff and owners.

  11. Razor Ramone Says:

    GOB? As in “The Mighty GOB , Gatekeeper of Booze”? ” We of They” need to know! ( Old locals will get the reference) I still miss Chris Thomas.

  12. Dooley Says:

    Coaches Bowles, Ross, Armstrong, and Tmac all played together under Bruce Arians & Coach Rapone at Temple in the 80’s. Coaches Gilbert, Sanders, and Goodwin were all Bowles coworkers under BA in Arizona. Coach Garver was introduced(and given his first NFL gig) after Coach Tom Moore introduced Garver to BA. Larry Foote, a former player under several of the coaches name and directly worked under Bowles as a player & coach before arriving to Tampa. I could go on, but trying to draw a line between BAs “guys” and Bowles’ “guys’ is kind of foolish, because for the most part these guys have all been contemporaries for decades now. Guys like Coach Tandy & Van Dam were affiliated with Tampa before BA even arrived, and we’ve added and promoted a few of these guys since BA stepped down so idk what the potential “problem” is.