Todd’s Way

May 6th, 2023

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So many employees at One Buc Place have so much to prove this fall — starting with the head coach.

Lots of Buc fans still haven’t forgiven Todd Bowles for his part in the game that ended the season for a 2021 team trying to defend its Super Bowl title. Tampa Bay had just rallied from a 27-3 deficit against the Rams and the divisional-round playoff matchup appeared destined for overtime before Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp drove Los Angeles to a game-winning FG in the final 42 seconds.

Defnining moment.

Besides hauling in a 20-yard pass on the drive, Kupp broke free down the middle for a 44-yard catch as six Buc defenders rushed toward Stafford. Even Gene Deckerhoff was stunned by the defensive call and execution as Kupp got behind the last man standing, safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

“What in the world are the Buccaneers doing?” Deckerhoff bellowed into the microphone as Kupp was tackled at the Tampa Bay 12-yard line.

Thousands of Buc fans found themselves asking the same question.

Sixteen months later, the pain hasn’t gone away.

The Bowles Hole

Last year’s 8-9 record with Tom Brady playing virtually every snap didn’t help Bowles’ cause with Buc Nation. It was his fourth consecutive losing season as an NFL head coach and Bowles likely won’t survive a fifth.

Nobody knows that better than one of the few minority head coaches granted a second chance.

Bowles arrived late to the office in 2022, but it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t get the job until Bruce Arians departed in late March, weeks into free agency and less than a month before the draft.

“It’s a lot more calm,” Bowles said recently. “It’s a lot different. You get a handle on a lot more things a lot earlier. It was surprisingly different last year, not overwhelming but different just to get it (promotion) that late.”

Although Bowles had familiarity with the players and Arians’ coaching staff, the transition from defensive coordinator to head coach proved jarring. He found himself deferring too often — whether it was to Byron Leftwich, office staff or even Brady.

That’s not going to happen in 2023 because Bowles realizes what’s at stake — his livelihood.

“He started the season late,” Joel Glazer told this website exclusively in March. “Usually a coach gets hired earlier in the hiring cycle, so I think Todd was at a disadvantage. Overall, we’re pleased with how Todd handled the situation.”

Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers goes back a long way with Bowles.

“I first worked with Todd in 2005 in Dallas,” Rodgers said. “We were together at Miami and we were together at the Jets and then we came here and he’s the same guy he was then, the same guy he was as the head coach of the Jets. He’s  the same guy every day. He’s excited at this time about every year as he was every year I’ve worked with him. That’s the one thing about him – he’s been the same guy since the day I met him. It never really changes for him.”

Nice try, Kacy. Even if Bowles is basically the same, what has changed dramatically are the circumstances.

Defining season for Todd Bowles.

Own Man

On the surface, Bowles looks even keel. He’s not a ranter on the sidelines and he has never been a great sound bite at a podium. But behind the scenes, a demanding coach plans to be far more demanding of his players, his staff and, most of all, himself.

“We’re going to get this train moving the right way,” Bowles said at his introductory press conference as Bucs head coach. “I’m excited about this opportunity. I feel very humbled, I feel very honored. I’m ready to go. I’m going to be me. I can’t be him (Arians). There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat. I’m just going to do it my way.”

Few Jets fans were heartbroken to see Bowles jettisoned after going 14-34 in his final three seasons.

That’s where Bowles learned the hard way that “when you take a head job, you have to wear a lot of hats.”

Some Buc fans were eager to fit Bowles for a dunce cap after that stunning postseason loss to the Rams. And while Bowles guided the 2022 Bucs to a second consecutive division title, Tampa Bay was not competitive against Dallas in the opening playoff round.

Of the 22 starters against the Rams, only nine remain on the Buc roster. Arians has moved on to an advisory role, Leftwich is coaching youth sports and Brady is taking business meetings instead of taking snaps.

Yes, there’s been a lot of changes at One Buc Place. Many more are guaranteed if Vegas oddsmakers are correct and Tampa Bay finishes last in the NFC South.

Look for Bowles to be more assertive the second time around in Tampa. He’s not about to go down without a fight.

“When I first started in New York, you try to do things a certain way … you don’t do it your way,” he says. “You end up having regret, so I’m going to do things my way.”

Make way for a new Todd Bowles.

He’s got his hands firmly on the train’s throttle and he’s not about to let go.

Ira Kaufman Translates What He Heard At One Buc Palace, Talks Offensive Line, Donovan Smith, And Much More

34 Responses to “Todd’s Way”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    How has that been working out for you, Todd?

  2. FlBoy84 Says:

    Bowles doing it his way is, thankfully, likely going to lead to a change at HC. Solid DC, disaster as a HC. Said it before, Bowles is the perfect example of the Peter Principle.

  3. Fred McNeil Says:

    Besides the defensive play calling debacle against the Rams there was the “Mistake by the Lake” cluster**** in Cleveland that I can never forgive.

  4. Fred McNeil Says:

    Besides the defensive play calling debacle against the Rams there was the “Mistake by the Lake” disaster in Cleveland that I can never forgive.

  5. Buc1987 Says:

    5 wins tops!

  6. RGA Says:

    I thought the train was moving in the right direction prior to Bowles. The train was turned over to him with a very talented roster and arguably the best QB to ever play the game. I hope he succeeds, he seems like a good guy.

  7. CleanHouse Says:

    He’s terrible and he tarnished Brady’s legacy with a trash season, We could have won the Super Bowl but he destroyed that too- get rid, rebuild-

    Stop torturing us team Glazer!

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    The real reason for last years Buc demise had nothin to do with Bowles or Leftwich. Buc fans are terrific at scapegoating. The reason for last seasons demise needs to and should be placed on the shoulders of one man. Wait for it..Tom Your God Brady. He had perhaps his worst NFL playing season ever. He played slow, looked slow, over and under threw passes and got mad at everybody because of his eroding skills. You know it, Buc sports writers know it and the vast majority of the public outside of Tampa Bay know it. And that’s the help you God.

  9. Buc1987 Says:

    Mike…no one has ever said it.

    So I guess no one knows it.

  10. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    If you bother to look at the tape at the end of the Rams playoff loss on the 20 yard out to Kupp before the bomb you will see Bucs have Kupp bracketed over with Edwards and under with SMB , SMB reads Kupp and is moving into position to undercut the out and intercept the pass when he unexplainably slips and goes down. Great call there and should have been a pick , but the football gods were not on our side that day. Bowles will get the Oline straightened out and Canales run heavy scheme will be effective. Bowles will get the Dline breathing fire due to increased competition and talent. Bucs win NFC South at 10-7.

  11. PSL Bob Says:

    We shall see. Seems like lots of trains are jumping the tracks these days.

  12. Brandon Says:

    Ohhhh. Dang. Mike Johnson spitting truth. Now I do place no less than 50% of the blame on Brady, I think Leftwich could’ve done better coaching a QB that had lost his nerve and balls in his divorce. Licht shouldn’t be applauded for re-signing good block, decent catch, no run Lenny while letting the best runner we’ve had in years go for nothing. But yeah, the GOAT wasn’t good last year.

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    Bowles, due to that Rams play, went into a shell last year and it really hurt the defense. When he blitzed last year the team held the opponent QBs to an 86 rating, while when he didn’t, they had a 95 rating – yet he ran half as many blitzes as he did in 2021.

    Arians leaving really really hurt the aggressiveness of the team on both sides of the ball as Leftwich and Bowles are inherently very conservative coaches, and it showed, with a dull, uninteresting team last year – and this year, with a 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense, it’s only going to get worse.

    I’d love to see Bowles prove me wrong.

    Then again last year he was handed a team that Vegas said was the odds on favorite to go to the SB in the NFC, and he turned that into an 8-10 record with an embarrassing 1st round bounce in the playoffs. He also managed to make Brady lose for the first time in his career to not only the Cowboys, but also the Falcons.

  14. TDTB2022 Says:

    Todd will get another year no matter what happens this year. The Glazers will not fire him without giving him a fair chance this year unlike last year. But the hot seat topic allows the local media to stay busy.
    I understand what Todd did last year and I don’t blame him. Out of respect to Bruce he didn’t fix the Byron problem by firing him. Instead he let the pieces fall in place. By the end of the year it was quite clear Byron didn’t qualify as an OC. Now it was easy to take care of the problem by firing Byron. This gave Todd the opportunity to hire his own offensive coaching staff. Clean slate for Todd. So whatever happens this year it will not get him fire. Now let’s see how things go.

    Go Bucs!!!

  15. Rod Munch Says:

    TDTB2022 Says:
    May 6th, 2023 at 2:18 pm
    Todd will get another year no matter what happens this year.


    If the team goes 5-12, why would you want him back? You’ll be getting a new QB, and with that you’re going want to build a new offense around them, and what in the world has Bowles done that would make you want to hand over the keys to him?

    The only way Bowles sticks around is if the team wins, or they’re so mediocre that the Bucs end up with like the 9th pick in the draft and can’t get any of the good QBs, and you just keep him around to buy time until the next draft.

    Bowles needs to show a lot to stick around, because so far, he’s shown nothing – as a HC. Again, as a DC, he’s great, and I wish he had stayed in that role, but as HC, he’s just a disaster.

  16. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Actually Buffalo was the fave for SB at +600 , Bucs were +700. The astute saw the weakness as described here by Gridiron-Tampa Bay Bucs (+700) I honestly don’t see it this year. I know Tom Bray is a machine, but I’m concerned about their offensive line. According to one of the most respected offensive line analysts in the business, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shouldn’t be overly confident in the group that will be responsible for keeping Tom Brady out of harm’s way this season (link)

  17. Cobraboy Says:

    “The same guy.”

    How many loser head coaches become winners?

  18. VATom Says:

    Well, regardless, this is good to read. If he tanks, he owns it. If he indeed understands the NFL headcoach roll and can execute, then great. More power to us. My gingers are crossed for Bowles. I like a lot of his staff. I like the guy. I want the Bucs to win. I am happy YouTube has the NFL this year instead of DTV. Bring it on. But if this team sucks…he needs to go.

  19. BucU Says:

    Either win or get the F out. I’m tired of Bowles receiving every excuse in the book for his failures. I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong on Bowles .

  20. K2 Says:

    I don’t know if it Byron or Bowles derailed the train. I believe that will be very apparent this year. If Bowles can get the train back on the track..that will be the first sign that he has finally grown into a head coach. At this point, he has only shown that he is capable of running a defense…not a team.

  21. Voice of Truth Says:

    Expect an early positive record, say 3-2 and people saying maybe….

    Then 5 to 7 straight losses, season is toast and we are planning for the draft

    Absolutely zero confidence in clueless Todd – expect him to do the exact opposite of what everyone else in the room knows is right

  22. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I think too much is made of the fact that Bowles did not get the job until March and did not have the opportunity to pick his coaches. The coaching staff he inherited won a Super Bowl and most of the players who contributed to that victory were returning. Bowles also gets too much credit for the Bucs division win last year. We played in an epically bad division and lucked into a few last minute wins thanks for Tom Brady’s magic (or what was left of his magic).

    At any rate, Bowles is the horse (its Derby day), we’re riding in on, so I’ll put my faith in him for next season. The draft has given me some hope the defense will be pretty good, and I think Mayfield or Trask have enough weapons on offense to make the Bucs respectable. If everything falls into place, and Canales is what we hope he is as an offensive coordinator, the Bucs can win 8-10 games, which wouldn’t be terrible. I like Bowles as a person, so I a want him to do well, but you have to bet against his track record if you hope to win.

  23. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Season feels a bit doomed before it even starts. Bowles…arms crossed ( resting on his boiler ) while “Can-Do” Canales trying to fire up the offense with middling QBs.

  24. stpetebucfan Says:

    Mike Johnson

    I basically agree with your assessment of Brady’s obvious age and deterioration.

    He certainly deserves “his” share of the blame. Missing a huge swath of the preseason and making the Bucs look like a reality show about uber wealthy, famous, celebrities getting a divorce. It clearly distracted Brady and IMHO fell over the rest of the team as a distraction as well.

    Having said that…there is SOOOO much blame to go around along with so many blows from the football gods, beginning with the loss of Ryan Jensen before the season even started. Donavan Smith was never truly healthy nor was Wirfs, whose massive talent was able to disguise that. Lose Shaq before the season even kicked off…bottom line the Bucs had their share of “Buc luck” this past season.

    Then mix in the players and the coaches. NOBODY really stood out and many took a big step back. Last year’s debacle was truly a TEAM effort but I concede as HC Bowles is where the buck stops. I agree with Joe the pressure is obviously on and fair or not, injuries or not, Bowles is on thin ice.

    I like Bowles and believe he’s a terrific DC although sometimes his playcalling for the D as in the LA game certainly raise questions. But he does seem to be able to get the guys to play as a team on D.

  25. ATLBuc Says:

    I’ve said it many times

  26. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    I’m much more optimistic than most. I loved the draft. Build the trenches. If we’ve got 3-4 guys that can help us this season there I think the defense will be much better. I’m excited about Canales. I think we may be a sleeper. People are saying we’re going to be worse this year. I don’t buy it. Our offense couldn’t be much worse than it as last s season. I think we turn the corner and shock a lot of people. Go Bucs!!!

  27. firethecannons Says:

    Have no faith in this coach, he lost the Rams game and it is his fault, he singlehandedly lost last year too. He is not a winner, hopefully Glazers get fed up and fire his ass in 2024.

  28. Larrd Says:

    It is hard to forgive a coach for a call he won’t admit was a mistake but instead throws his players under the bus.

  29. Larrd Says:

    Speaking of Brady, how come the Bucs didn’t get the Dolphins first round pick this year? They are the aggrieved party and the Dolphins arguably played a significant role in ruining the Bucs’ season.

  30. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    No confidence in Bowles even with his hand picked staff. The ST coach inexplicably still has a job and he still coaches scared.

  31. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Good DC; questionable at best HC. hope I’m wrong, but he’ll be gone after this year or next.

  32. garro Says:

    Very nice Ira.
    But I’m very very tired of all the excuses.

    Some of these excuses are…
    He didn’t have his own staff ….He had a Superbowl winning staff that he was plenty familiar with!
    He got the call late…
    Where was he? The answer is just down the hall!
    And then there was Leftwich A piss poor OC…Maybe…But a ready made fall guy and another excuse for Bowles…
    I suspect Todd had alot more to do with the no risk it disappearing last season than we will ever know.

  33. John Boy Says:

    Nice article Ira, but if Todd Bowles suddenly becomes a winning coach, it will mark an incredible change from his well-established track record. We usually are who we are.

  34. Goatfarmer Says:


    Todd Bowles Hamster Farm and Breeding Center

    Opening in 2024.