What Was Learned In Todd Bowles’ First Season

January 15th, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

One guy with a history of shaky quarterback decisions seems to think the Bucs nailed it by elevating Todd Bowles to take over the Bucs. Joe thinks the move showed something else.

Joe thinks the jury is still out on Bowles as head coach. Yes, he got the Bucs to the playoffs with a division win. That’s fantastic! Flip the coin and it’s hard to ignore the Bucs have a losing record, with Tom Brady at quarterback.

(Yes, Joe believes if starters stayed in the Atlanta game last week, the Bucs would have blown out the dreadful Dixie Chicks. The Bucs, after all, were winning when the starters were pulled.)

Five first-year head coaches led teams to the playoffs this weekend. And former Jets and Dolphins shot-caller Mike Tannenbaum says this demonstrates each team hired the right man.

So what did Joe learn with Bowles as Bucs head coach? Not much. (Joe’s not going to dig into his tenure with the Jets. Different time; different team; different chapter.)

Joe thinks Bowles has been Bowles. The Bucs defense, despite being riddled by injuries, has been good. Joe bets a lot of fans would have expected the defense to collapse after losing Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett. It hasn’t.

And props to Bowles for adjusting his defense midseason to compensate for an offense that couldn’t score with $2,000 cash in hand in a Las Vegas casino full of working women on the prowl.

Joe thinks much more was learned about failing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich than Bowles.

Simply put, Leftwich has been exposed now that his safety blanket, former Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians, is no longer heavily involved in day-to-day workings of the team.

To have a losing record with Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Playoff Lenny, Tristan Wirfs and Shaq Mason, and being unable to score more points than the worst team in the NFL, Da Bears, is absolutely mindboggling and is coaching malpractice of the highest order.

If Joe had to rap Bowles’ knuckles with a ruler (yeah, Joe has lingering nun issues), it would be that he didn’t launch Leftwich after his grossly irresponsible gameplan against Pittsburgh and the offense’s disgraceful performance the following week against a team that just launched its head coach, the Stinking Panthers.

71 Responses to “What Was Learned In Todd Bowles’ First Season”

  1. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    I don’t know Joe, I agree with your take on Lefty, he is weak sauce as a coach of any kind. But I think Lefty was instructed to change the Offense by Bowles. And Bowles is the one kicking FGs 55 yards out and not taking shots on 4th and short when you have TB as your QB.

    Give credit where credit is due, they both suck, but, yes, Lefty sucks worse

  2. SB~LV Says:

    Typo ?
    Last season
    Say!… have any of the playoff’s reminded you of the Bucs?
    I think Brady realizes that the game has passed him by.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Bowles is responsible for the losing season……he’s the head coach…..he has made multiple mistakes during games that are more than questionable…..

    Senior Harry listed a few……the most egregious is his timid decisions on 4th down.

    Now, Byron without BA……totally useless…..he should have already been launched or at least neutered. He’ll be a QB coach at some college next year…..and while he’s there he can finish his English lessons.

  4. NEfan Says:

    You’re too kind Joe. Bowles has.turned this winning team into losers. Winning the division by default isn’t exactly a positive. If not for Bowles and company (Leftnut) slow play offense, bad clock and decision making management this team would have easily put away the division. All this season proves is Bowles is not cut out to be a HC in the NFL. Oh, and enough with the good D, they played good against losing teams all except the Dallas game, they’ve fallen off to since then. Why is this team old and slow? Because their coaches system is old and slow. How many weeks 15-16 before their ST coach realized Thompson was better than Darden? Shameful and it’s all on the HONORABLE BA, this team should have had Peterson as a HC. BA killed the Bucs!

  5. SufferingSince76 Says:

    We learned that Bowles is a lousy head coach and Leftwich isn’t even a bump on a good OC’s behind.

  6. Hodad Says:

    When I see some of the names of coaches getting interviewed for openings, I like Todd more, and more. Would this same team have done better had Jim Harbough been hired instead of Bowles remaining? I’d like to see a few coaches replaced this offseason, and I’d like to see Bowles turn over his defense to a real D.C.. That’s what Arains preached, a chain of succession right? Bowles deserves a second year.

  7. Justin Says:

    He was solely responsible for giving the browns game away. He played for overtime and he lost. He left the field with timeouts in his pocket. Neither coaches are cut out to be head coaches in this league. The game is too big for both. They do not have the knowledge that it takes to manage the team. And Byron was exposed. He will never be a coach in this league again. He depends on someone telling him what and how to do something. Bruce covered for him and he appeared better than he truly is. It also happened in Arizona. He is trash. Time to clean house.

  8. Hammerhead Says:

    Spot on NE. This is on Arians. Quitting when he did and leaving the Bucs was coaching malpractice on almost all levels. We had no choice at that point with the coaches we had to roll with. And what in the world did BA add to anything this year. He was silent except to bash the media when they dared to question his hand picked successors. No doubt he makes a significant salary for his….. what? Why? Joe, please write an article on why he is even a part of this staff.
    A big fail BA.

  9. Stormy Says:

    The only thing it proved is that Bowles is a lousy head coach. Backing into the playoffs with this team ans this qb isn’t anything great.

    If he’s missing Brady next year, the real Todd Bowles will show up. The one who failed miserably in New York. The one who is completely unqualified and overmatched as an NFL head coach.

  10. alton green Says:

    OK here is a few questions for whoever thinks Bowles is a good coach
    #1 does that person have electricity?
    #2 does he own a TV?
    #3 has he ever watched Tom Brady before the Bucs?
    # does he believe a 29-45 record and an 8-9 record, is a winner?
    now i could go on and on but the Bucs play tomorrow night and i don’t want to miss it. Folks i’m first in line to say “never bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs” BUT with Todd as HC? I STILL SAY that Todd doesn’t like all the attention Tom gets. Why? because NOBODY is that stupid

  11. alton green Says:

    want a good laugh to start your day??? well since we play the Cowpokes tomorrow, google “brokeback mountain on johnboy and billy radio show” hilarious

  12. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    @TBBF: “…and while he’s there he can finish his English lessons…” LMFAO!!!

  13. CleanHouse Says:

    We need to be more conservative

  14. NEfan Says:

    Fans, the Jags game is a perfect example of GREAT and POOR coaching. Lawrence turned the ball over 4 times (sound familiar, only different results) and got down 20 points at the half. Daley shat himself and panicked, went into protect mode (Bowles like), Peterson (who Bucs should have had as.their HC) kept his young QB calm and made the adjustments at half-time(didn’t go to the bathroom) and secured the W. Payton will be the Chargers HC next season after this debacle.

  15. NEfan Says:

    Litch should have gave the Jags Leftnut for a pack of Pall Malls and 1/2 a dozen day old donuts.

  16. DungyDance Says:

    “To have a losing record with Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Playoff Lenny, Tristan Wirfs and Shaq Mason, and being unable to score more points than the worst team in the NFL, Da Bears, is absolutely mindboggling and is coaching malpractice of the highest order.”

    Glad to see Wirfs and Mason now being mentioned in this mix of players.

  17. NEfan Says:

    Dungy, Jones, Gage, Smith, White, LVD, Hicks, Winfield, Davis, Neal, Vea, D. White, Lenny ALL very talented players some elite at their positions, shameful!

  18. Reach87 Says:

    Here we go again. 3 new linemen and injured tackles. Injured receivers. Best players missing practice most of the year. Most passing attempts in the NFL, great completion percentage, low number of picks, not a lot of touchdowns and not as successful as we’d like in the red zone. It’s right in front of anyone not clouded by the commentators, haters, and non-fans. These (the one’s available, not the ones who we had last year and the year before) players and coaches won the Division and we have a home game in the Playoffs. This year. Not many teams could do that in the NFL. This is NOT Madden. Root for the team you claim to be a fan of. Go Bucs!

  19. geno711 Says:

    I tend to believe that Leftwich is the biggest problem this season in coaching.

    But that being said, do I think that Bowles is as good a coach as Arians. No way.

    The bar should be high for the Bucs on their coach moving forward. If the Bucs only get rid of Leftwich, I will support that move.

    If the Bucs decide to get rid of Bowles as well, I will support that as well.

  20. Darin Says:

    Yeah all those other coaches improved their teams records. This was a nightmare of a season. Lazy analysis. The narrative changes after the game.

  21. geno711 Says:

    I watched that Chargers v Jags game.

    Are people really giving Peterson credit after that awfully coached beginning of the game?

    Biggest difference to me was not coaching but was that the Chargers defense that was elite just wore down. Two different defenses between 1st and 2nd half. If you want to blame coaching, then say that the coaches are responsible for getting the Chargers defense physical enough to play for 4 quarters. Jeez what a let down.

  22. PSL Bob Says:

    If you notice, Tannenbaum says …”and the turnaround should be felt immediately.” All of those other coaches inherited teams with losing records or moribund teams. Bowles was hired to lead a team that was already at or near the top of the mountain. He turned it around all right. In the wrong direction. His name should not be on that list.

  23. DungyDance Says:

    Totally off topic but don’t know where else to put it…espn is reporting per “league sources” that Tua is expected to return as Dolphins “starting quarterback” next season. Brady to Miami? Perhaps not.

  24. Onetrickpony Says:

    Is a bluebird red?
    Other teams cut a coach that can’t cut it in their first year this team shouldn’t be any different if they want to win in the future. The inevitable is just a matter of time

  25. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Is down the new up???

  26. NEfan Says:

    geno, absolutely coaching Lawrence threw 4 ints. That’s not on coaching. Peterson took the Eagles to the SB his second year and his first year with the forever shatty Jags to the 2nd round of the PO’s.

    How does a D wear down coming out of the half. Dude you have NO clue how this game is played or managed.

    FYI, this is NOT Bowles first year as a coach of the Bucs. He should be well ahead of the newbie coached and he’s not, he digressed.

  27. Goatfarmer Says:

    Todd Blowes as a head coach. The Buc stops with him and it’s counterfeit. His drooling play caller is doing what Blowes wants. That’s on them both. He’s like Koetter was – except on defense. Mike Smith was Koetter’s drooler.

  28. Aleyz2020 Says:

    One distinction Bowles has over the other 1st year coaches listed is that he wasn’t hired, he was given the position. There was no interview process. He checked the league requirements for filling the position.

  29. Infomeplease Says:

    Joe, maybe I’m mistaken, isn’t it the head coaches job to work with the failing coaches so that their overall performance improves? Thus improving the overall team performance! Leftwich has underperformed almost since the start of the season! Shouldn’t Bowles have been working with him and the other offense coaches to at least get the offense running at average nfl levels. The fact that this team under achieved on that side of the ball is a direct reflection of his performance!!! IMO!! Add to that regression of special teams play(from the start of the season, I know they’ve been bad for years) and during game decisions like clock management and repeatedly asking Succup to kick out of his range, and you have the end result 8/9 season.

    Bowles was very good about fixing the defensive side of the ball. But totally failed the offensive side!!! IMO, this is why Bowles should only be a defensive coordinator!! Not head coach!! Seems Bowles will be back next season and this team will look more and more like the Chicago Bears!!! On the upside we will be getting earlier draft picks!!!

  30. BrianBucs Says:

    Let’s face it and say it like it is – the Bucs have been the league’s biggest underachieving team this season and that starts with the head coach.
    The Bucs have made the playoffs in spite of Bowles because the other teams in the division stink also.
    Bowles inherited a Championship roster and through his offensive and game management philosophies have ran it into the ground.
    Sure there are a lot of excuses like injuries, bad OC, etc. but every team has had injuries and their own situations to deal with.
    Bowles will never put a Championship team on the field here and as long as he is the head coach here the downward spiral will continue.

  31. BUC IT Says:

    A lot of you guys have been way too harsh on Bowles. The jury is not out on him over one season. This is the same guy who was a big reason that we won the Super Bowl… He is an elite defensive mind and he has backed that up during his time in Tampa. It’s not like he was going to be able to immediately fire lefty when he became head coach even if he had wanted to. So unless he dramatically influenced lefty decision making on the offense then the onus completely goes on lefty and the fact our O-line was trash. Personally I think there is very little chance Bowles did much instructing on offense. I think the person who has been influencing lefty is Brady. The only things Bowles has been doing is telling them when to punt and the pace of play. ( Bowles won the game against the saints by making the Bucs punt when Brady clearly wanted to go for it.). With all that said…. when Lefty said the Bucs making the playoffs is a testament of coaching. Well he completely lost me on that. Lefty has got to go. Bowles gets another year and the jury is still not out on him.

  32. NEfan Says:

    Bucit@ you mean the same guy that cost them one last season? You can’t have it both ways.

  33. TorontoBucsFan Says:

    I’ve never been in a pro dressing room.

    Is it likely that Bowles got a lot of complaints last season from his defence players that they tired late in the season due to all the short (time-wise) drives with all the passing they did?

    Then he decided a more conservative offence was needed this year?

  34. Tye Says:

    What Was Learned In Todd Bowles’ First Season?
    That the Jets were justified in FIRING him and the Bucs were ignorant for moving him to HC!

    Bucs are in the playoffs because o Brady, IN SPITE OF ‘Toilet’ Todd!

  35. NEfan Says:

    Toronto, more like he needed an excuse why they list the Rams playoff game. They looked more confused than tired at the end of that game. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Todd here is your reward for screwing us out of a 3rd SB, drum roll please, “A PROMOTION!!!”

  36. Jeff’s real dad Says:

    Who’s better with the English language lavonte or byron

  37. BelleGladeBuc Says:

    I agree with @Hammer and @NEfan.

    Todd Bowles took over a Super Bowl primed team.

    In the preseason every football prognosticator had the Bucs as a Super Bowl contender.

    Losing your Pro Bowl center in Ryan Jensen to a season ending knee injury because of contact in a non contact preseason practice is on the head coach.

    No excuses.

    I don’t want to hear any excuses about it happens. It was a non contact practice per the NFL CBA. Buck stops with the head coach who sets up the practice structure. Period.

    After Todd Bowles Day 2 the Bucs had lost 2 Pro Bowl lineman who TB12 depends on for success, one in Ali Marpet to retirement and one to injury in Ryan Jensen.

    Next we lose our starting LG Aaron Stinnie in the 3rd quarter of a meaningless preseason game. Todd Bowles approved drafting the horrible second round draft pick and replacement to Stinnie in Open Gate Goedeke.

    TB12 and the Bucs offense struggling behind an injury riddled offensive line this season is because of the decisions of Todd Bowles. Period.

  38. Bosch Says:

    One poor decision after another. It is never his fault. Unable to correct or make adjustments. The stench will not go away until the toilet is flushed.

  39. HC Grover Says:

    I learned it should be his last season

  40. Infomeplease Says:

    Buc it, my point exactly. Bowles should stick with what he knows DEFENSE!! He is a defensive coordinator only!! Offense…not so much!! Head coach…not somuch!!

  41. SB~LV Says:

    Has One Trick Pony Bowels made any adjustments this season?
    Torturous having to wait until tomorrow night.

  42. Buc4evr Says:

    We learned that Bowles is not head coach material and that the Glazers will keep him for next year. Sad but true. Can’t fix poor decision making, but he will remain. Leftwurst is gone, but that is not going to change Bowles. I suspect the Bucs will go after Carr or try to trade for Rodgers, but be too stupid to install a new Offensive philosophy.
    We also learned that the O line is a mess and needs to be fixed. On the D we learned that we should have kept Suh and JPP and that drafting JTS was a big mistake.

    P.S. after Gruden works over the NFL in court, I would like to see him back as the OC.

  43. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Gruden WILL NEVER be on an NFL sideline again…..maybe college, but never the NFL…..there was some pretty bad things said in those emails.

    I do hope he gets the NFL good……cause they destroyed the man’s reputation and what he loves to do for a living.

  44. SB~LV Says:

    I SO want to be wrong!

  45. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I just HATE how the Glazers canceled Gruden from Buccaneers history……he delivered the Buccaneers first Superbowl victory……how in the hell do you cancel that??????

  46. Roc Says:

    Jury is still out???????

    The Bucs ONLY MADEthe playoffs because they are in a dreadful division this year..

    Any other year we are at home with a losing record!

    Why???? All the excuses for this guy??? He was horrible in NY and the Bucs have played horrible with all this talent. YES EVEN WITH INJURIES (Show me an NFL that doesn’t play through injuries)


  47. Defense Rules Says:

    Senor Harry in Costa Rica … ‘But I think Lefty was instructed to change the Offense by Bowles. And Bowles is the one kicking FGs 55 yards out and not taking shots on 4th and short when you have TB as your QB.’

    Your first observation Harry about Bowles telling Lefty to change the offense is just speculation. For starters, no team ran LESS than the Bucs did; that’s NOT what anyone would’ve expected from Bowles, a defense-oriented coach. The bigger problem with our offense though was that in most games our OLine couldn’t block its way out of a wet paper bag. Had Brady not been Brady (with his very quick release), he would’ve probably led the league in sacks. Our average yards/passing attempt of only 5.9 (#20 in the NFL) speaks volumes about the blocking prowess (or lack thereof) of our OLine. Our average yards/run of only 3.4 (#32 in the NFL) finishes that discussion.

    And as far as Bowles NOT taking shots on 4th down, the 2022 stats say otherwise. Bucs went for it 27 times on 4th down, 8th most in the NFL. We made 15 of those, tied for 5th most in the NFL.

    Todd Bowles has a number of faults IMO, and if I had to assign a grade it’d probably be a C. That’s pretty much commensurate with a break-even record for a team that was injury-plagued all season. One of my long-held beliefs is that defensive HCs must have a strong OC working the other side of the ball or they’ll fail. Bowles obviously didn’t have that, but then again, Lefty didn’t have a very strong OLine to work with. Sadly he hasn’t been creative enough to compensate for that, to the degree that a meh OLine can be compensated for. Games are won & lost in the trenches. Weak OLine or weak DLine has consequences.

  48. SB~LV Says:

    Bowels is like that boring teacher

  49. NEfan Says:

    DR, I agree that a DC/HC needs a strong OC, Belichick proved that point as well this season. What I disagree is your running less analogy. The Bucs ran less simply because of the lack of production. They couldn’t run then were forced to stop. I would bet that Brady has far more pass attempts in the second half for two reasons. One to play catch up and two to protect the lead because the D has a tendency to let teams back into the game.

    Never the less, a C for a coach that has been with this team for 4 years is considered poor. Myself, I say lower , we are all previed to our own opinion.

  50. mark2001 Says:

    “couldn’t score with $2,000 cash in hand in a Las Vegas casino full of working women on the prowl.”

    Haven’t tried that Joe. But if you want to send me two grand and a round trip plane ticked from the great white north to Vegas, I’ll see how it goes and report back to you. LOL

  51. Defense Rules Says:

    NEfan … Not a big fan of dual-hatting HCs. Seems to work out far less often than it does work. And when that happens, you not only lose the HC, but you also lose a very good coordinator (that’s typically why he got promoted to HC?) as well as the rest of the coaching staff. IOW … you start over from scratch.

  52. Rod Munch Says:

    People that paid attention for years knew what was coming with Leftwich. I was saying for the last couple of years, that if Leftwich ever got in charge of anything, he’d revert to running the wishbone because he’s so conservative. Arians literally said this as early as 2019, when publicly called out Leftwich saying he has to stay on top of Leftwich otherwise he gets too conservative and too predictable (not in those words, but that is what he was saying).

    Bowles is not involved in this offense, at all. He was handed this team, got to make zero staff changes, the idea was that Leftwich would just call the games the same way he did when Arians was telling him what to do. Instead, we saw what Arians was talking about, that Leftwich is an ultra-conservative coach, and only throws the ball beyond 1 yard because Brady is here.

    But please, you people who want to believe Bowles is the issue, keep believing, and maybe you dopes will convince other owners that you’re right, and they’ll hire Leftwich as a headcoach.

  53. Defense Rules Says:

    NEfan … Bucs actually ran MORE in the 2nd half of the season than in the 1st half (ran 163 times in the first 8 games, then 203 times in the last 8 games, plus 20 times in the mid game against the Rams). They ran 30 or more times in only 3 games … and WON all 3 of them.

    If you want to put up that $2000 for Mark2001 to go prowling Vegas, he’ll take the bet if you’re betting that the Bucs passed more in the 2nd half of the season than in the 1st half AND you give him 15 pass advantage. And BTW, he’ll win (Bucs passed 340 times in the first 8 games, then 58 against the Rams, and 353 in the last 8 games). That’s actually pretty close considering that we rushed 63 times in the first 2 games alone, and won both games. What set us so far behind in most games was that we were terrible at scoring in the first half of games.

  54. NEfan Says:

    DR, I meant 2nd half of games, not the season.

  55. Defense Rules Says:

    Does that mean you’re not gonna pay up to Mark2001 so he can prowl Vegas?

  56. bucs4life Says:

    Agree 100%. Bottom line is the same from previous years. Bowles is a great defensive coach, but like many D coaches, he lacks the aggressiveness to be a top notch Head Coach, and this is the NFL — you WILL need aggro calls to succeed multiple times. And he is disqualified to contribute to the offense. Leftwich lacks the guile that is an essential part of the specific competence of the offense playcaller. He was a good backup in Pitt, and he has a good offensive mind, but it’s not nearly enough to outclass our opponents in the chess match between offense and defense. I wish Arians kept his composed 2020 form for a little longer.

  57. Reach87 Says:

    DR, as always thanks for the analysis (vice uninformed emotions). I tend to agree with your rating, primarily because the line we have to play with would be tough for any coach to deal with, even with TB. They do battle and there have been some bright spots…just inexperienced as individuals and as a line, which to my mind, affects what you can comfortably and consistently call. Go Bucs!

  58. NEfan Says:

    DR, that must mean I am correct

  59. mark2001 Says:

    DR….An old central Illinois raised boy going to Vegas with $2000 in his hand, in a town full of ladies for hire? Who could get into trouble in a situation like that? I think if Joe was going to pony up, he might know another downstate boy that would take that deal.

  60. Defense Rules Says:

    Ya Mark, what could possibly go wrong? Better take about half of that $2000 though and give it to a friend so he can bail you out of jail. Just in case …

  61. NEfan Says:

    Did Bowles step in for McDaniels and coach the final minutes of the Miami game?

  62. Faspro Says:

    Look at the Giants, ‘nough said…

  63. mg Says:

    Bowles should have been fired early on in the season. It couldn’t have been worse.
    The Glazeovers are blind.

  64. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Last year proved Bowles as an excellent defensive coach with all the injuries we had last year as well as this year. All the whiners up here who say he’s a bad coach don’t know what they’re talking about. As much as I despise Leftowhich as our OC just as bad as his play calling has been the players also have been playing poorly. Brady almost single handedly lost us the Bengals game and we’ve watched countless plays blown up by poor execution but the lazy criers want too blame it all on the coaching when the players are the ones stinking it up on the field.

  65. Mord Says:

    The Miami-Buffalo game was a good look at the difference coaching can make.

    Miami narrowly lost a game they and their third-string QB overachieved in. They were aggressive in scheme. They have something good there in Mike McDaniel

  66. BUC IT Says:

    All I am saying is Bowles is an elite defensive mind and HC or DC…. his defenses are always good. Firing a guy after one season just doesn’t offer continuity. I’m not saying Bowles is the best head coach. But if we lose him as a HC then we lose that defense. If we are honest with ourselves the reason we suck is because of the offensive line. If I was the glazers I would ask Brady what he wants to stay. If that’s fire Bowles or lefty then do it.

  67. Nick2 Says:

    Learned? He’s the wrong guy for the job.

  68. orlbucfan Says:

    How about hoping for a Bus win tonight? Let’s judge Bowles when both old man Brady and Leftwich are gone. He’s done a better job than a lot of yahoos on here give him credit for even if the Division is the NFC Stinks this year.

  69. orlbucfan Says:

    Bucs not Bus. No team I despise more than the Cowpukes so….c’mon Bucs!!!!!!!!!!

  70. Sumosam Says:

    I see this differently. All season long the Bucs knew they would win the division and they won games when they had to. The entire season was about getting to the playoffs healthy. They did that. Now we are ready to accomplish the real goal. No excuses left. We are primed and ready. Just like they planned it. In this NFL with 17 games, this is the right approach.

  71. Izod Says:

    Worst HC in the league. Humans are not too bright, but they will realize this fact very painfully next year.