If Close Games Are A Lot About Coaching …

August 31st, 2023

Todd Bowles

Interesting take today from Todd Bowles, one that prompted Joe to research the Bucs’ head coach’s record.

Bowles weighed in from One Buc Palace answering a question from The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports, Ira Kaufman. The subject was the Vikings’ ridiculous 11-0 record in one-score games last season.

Bowles acknowledged that a hearty chunk of that kind of success in close games is about coaching.

Yes, players count, too, Bowles said. But the guy in charge is a huge factor and Bowles praised Vikings head coach/playcaller Kevin O’Connell for being one of the best at in-game adjustments.

“I do believe there’s a knack to doing it,” Bowles said of winning close games. “I think Kevin is an oustanding head coach and offensive coordinator for what he does with that team is unbelievable. They score points in bunches. He’s very good at seeing weaknesses. … When you win close games like that, that has a lot to do with coaching. It has a lot to do with players, as well. But I think he’s guided that team very well.”

Joe’s a research kind of guy and had to hit the stats after hearing Bowles. How does he fare in one-score games through his five years of head coaching? Bowles teams are 19-24.

During his 10-6 season guiding the Jets in 2015, Bowles was 4-5 in one-score games. Last year was Bowles’ best for close games. The Bucs were 6-4.

Of course, Joe knows the idea is to not play close games. As Peyton Manning famously says when asked about his great record in fourth-quarter comebacks, they only serve to let him know he didn’t play well enough in the first three quarters of those games.

33 Responses to “If Close Games Are A Lot About Coaching …”

  1. HC Grover Says:

    Bowles game plans I thought is to keep it close in to the 4th qtr…Then Brady…whups I mean Mayfield can lead a couple scoring drives for the close win. I could be wrong but I thought he said that.

  2. unbelievable Says:

    Playing not to lose… that always works out well…

  3. Proudbucsfan Says:

    I don’t have a lot of faith in Todd Bowles, I do have faith in Jason Licht’s roster. Bowles is very prideful and stubborn but that being said I love my Bucs and route for success.

  4. Saskbucs Says:

    Stefanski is still in Cleveland isn’t he? O’Connell in Minny.

  5. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    What Saskbucs said

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    “Last year was Bowles’ best for close games. The Bucs were 6-4.”


    I’m pretty sure it was Brady that 6-0, and Bowles was 0-4.

    I wasn’t completely onboard the Bowles hatewagon until that Cleveland game, it’s still indefensible how cowarderly he was at the end of that game and lost any respect I had for him as a HC. I still like him as a DC, however, just in case he’s reading this and I hurt his feelings.

  7. Buc4evr Says:

    Bowles is going to get schooled this season. Hate to say it but the defense is going to be tired and make mistakes late in the 4th quarter. Need to score at least 30 points a game. 18 won’t work and the D isn’t going to be able to save his sorry ass. It is not 1980’s football anymore. Wake up Bowles and quit acting like an idiot.

  8. Tony Says:

    That Baltimore game was a perfect example on why teams & coaches need to get out of this stupid analytics mindset & just take the points. Look at what happened in that game. It forced Baltimore to keep playing until the very end & they ended up winning. Sure it was preseason & sure backups were in but that’s where kicking the FG & punting the ball are the smarter thing to do instead of giving other teams freebies. You take what you can get. Especially when you got Carmarda there now who can punt the ball very well.

  9. D-Rok Says:

    Off-topic, but Wolford got signed to our practice squad, which is good because he shows potential.

  10. Mike S Says:

    Rod… Taking the ball out of Brady’s hands. He was giving it away.

    The game for me last year was against the Steelers when they couldn’t stop Trubisky and Claypool late in the 4th quarter to get the ball back.

    That was probably the most gutless performance I had seen out of a team in a long while. They laid down.

    After that game was over I knew they weren’t that team. Soft – no heart. 2022 wasn’t going to be the year. They didn’t want it. It wasn’t about winning.

    Funny thing about football. One day you’re riding high. The next some scrub squad has its boot on your neck. It wasn’t like that game was a wakeup call either. They just kept rolling over and the only one who gave af was Brady trying to rally late every contest. What a sour note to go out on – shameful.

    Now this season they’re seeing a 6.5 U/O and SI giving them a 2-win prediction and they’re all salty. After last season’s debacle and now Mayfield – who’s track record is shallow selfishness – takes over at QB.

    “Don’t sleep on us!”

    LOL everyone sleeping like a baby.

    As soon as this team gets punched in the mouth they’ll fold like a cheap card table – just like last season.

  11. SlyPirate Says:

    MEH … IDK
    I think Minnesota got really lucky last year. They could have easily been 9-8. They also didn’t improve in critical areas (OL and DB) and got worse in others (RB).

    Bucs win game 1.

  12. steele Says:

    Let’s not forget also that Canales has never been an OC, never created a playbook, game plans or called plays in real NFL season games. It doesn’t mean he can’t, but he is a rookie. Add this to everything we know about Bowles. Last season was about lower expectations, this season should be even more of that. Don’t even begin thinking p-p-playoffs, and just see if they can execute individual plays.

  13. HC Grover Says:

    Good Wolford. Must be OK. Think he is a good bckup QB.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod … ‘I still like him as a DC, however, just in case he’s reading this and I hurt his feelings.’

    And if Bowles is reading that Rod, I’m sure that he’s now very depressed that you called him ‘cowardly’. Either that or he really doesn’t give a rats. (I’d probably go with Option B).

    We don’t have the option of firing him as a HC yet keeping him as a DC. Personally I can’t think of any DC I’d rather have right now rebuilding this young defense. We all saw in 2002 that it is possible to win a Super Bowl with a highly-ranked defense (#1) & a middle-of-the-pack (#18) offense. Other teams have also done it more than once. Apparently the reverse is also true, since Kansas City won the championship last year with the #1 offense but #16 defense. Personally I’d rather see BOTH our offense AND our defense ranked in the Top-10 (we won the 2020 Super Bowl with the #3 offense & #8 defense).

  15. D-Rok Says:


    Exactly. Let’s give it 4-6 games before we know what we have in this team this year. I’m waiting, albeit impatiently at times.

  16. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Bowles does himself little favors in interviews. He can still keep up with the game of the defensive side of the ball, but unhealthily risk averse on the offensive side. I think he can have success if paired with a good offensive mind. I just dont think he can get a team to the promised because he is not a good leader.

  17. Kidfloflo Says:

    Buc4ever, if we score 30+ pts a game im interested to know what u think our record would be with that kind of offensive prowess?

  18. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Bucs haven’t even played a game yet. And we are hoping to win a close game against the Vikings? Serial under-performers?

    Maybe, expectations are too high?

    No one should wonder, why the Packers make the play-offs so often.
    They play the Vikings, Lions, and Bears, twice a year. The worst division in NFL.

  19. Buc4evr Says:

    @kidfloflo, think we could go 11-6 if we could score 30+ points a game. I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility if Bowles wasn’t head coach.

    Glad they signed Wolford, he could start if needed. Did a good job with the Rams when he had to start.

  20. Crickett Baker Says:

    I think we have the best QB room that we could possibly have this year.
    GO BUCS!
    (I am a bit disappointed Kade Warner didn’t make the team, though).

  21. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Devin White posted a quote on Instagram: “Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be. Every season serves its purpose.”


  22. Tony Says:

    @Scotty In Fat Antonio

    I would’ve traded him during the draft & got a pick or two for him. I guess the dude thinks he should get paid like Derrick Brooks or Lawrence Taylor or Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher or somebody like that. Yeah right. Dude still needs to work on some stuff in order to be in their kind of category. No way I’d pay him as much as he wants right now. Right now there’s plenty of LBs sitting there that have the potential. Dennis & Watts should definitely be giving more playing time. I liked Watts even when he was coming out of Charlotte.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – the 2002 Bucs defense, as stated many times and backed up by analytics, is the best passing defense in the history of the NFL, and the best defense overall to ever win a SB. The only team that can make a case to compete with the 2002 Bucs is the 1990 Eagles, who didn’t win jack.

    The 2002 Bucs would have beat the 2020 Bucs, no doubt in my mind. That defense, with all those HOFers, peaked that year, allowing a net of 3 points over 3 playoff games, all vs Top 10 offenses, including the #1 offense.

    An all-time great defense beats out a defense that gets hot any day of the week. Since the 2002 defense would have been able to get pressure by just sending 4, they’d have sat back, frustrated Brady, and sooner or later would have got some strip sacks, perhaps for points.

    The 2002 Bucs are a legendary team because of that all-time great defense. While the 2020 Bucs are a fun team because of the offense pieces and cool story. Obviously as a Bucs fan I celebrate the entire Tampa Bay Super Bowl collection, but watching that 2002 build over the years to get to that moment, it’s a lot more special.

  24. D Cone Says:

    Buc4evr Says

    It is not 1980’s football anymore

    Most of the teams ran the ball between 42- 52 percent of the time in 2022.

    KC was pass heavy and made the Super Bowl running the ball 39% of the time.
    Philly made the Super Bowl running the ball 50.4 % of the time.

    Only 4 teams made the Playoffs running less than 40% of the time.

    Records that I found went back to 2011 and it was about the same.

    Hasn’t changed as much as you might think.

    I believe any time the ball goes from the QB to another player behind the line of scrimmage it should be counted as a rush. At least between the Tackles. Don’t see a difference between a hand off behind the QB or in front. Put those passes in the run column and it would be a really run heavy league.

  25. Richard Says:

    I like Todd Bowles, I like him as a defensive coordinator. As a head couch he plays like a coward. He has no killer instinct.

  26. Richard Says:

    Bowles is 1-4 in successful seasons as a head coach, Baker Mayfield 1-4 as a starting QB. Two peas in a pod.

  27. Richard Says:

    The 1-4 represents a winning to losing record.

  28. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Would love to say 2002 Bucs beat 2020 Bucs, but it would be close and only depending on the ruleset.

  29. garro Says:

    “Of course, Joe knows the idea is to not play close games. As Peyton Manning famously says when asked about his great record in fourth-quarter comebacks, they only serve to let him know he didn’t play well enough in the first three quarters of those games.”

    Please someone send this quote to Todd as soon as possible!

    Go Bucs!

  30. Onetrickpony Says:

    I’m glad somebody likes Todd Bowles I sure don’t.
    Let’s see if he can keep his hands off the offense this year

  31. NEFan Says:

    The article is based around coaching being the key factor in close games. What happened against the Rams in 2021, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Green Bay etc last season. Is he admitting he caused these losses or is he trying to take credit for the wins and Brady’s heroics? Either way he is a loser and talks out of both sides of his mouth. Sad that Bucs fans are hanging their hats on a green OC and the leagues rag doll QB. I guess under Bowels any ray of light is better than complete darkness.

  32. ChrisBuc23 Says:

    Well that Cleveland game from last year was one of few games that sticks out a lot because of Bowles’ stupid decision making Not using timeouts when we needed to and it cost us that game. And it still bothers me even tho king about it.

  33. Dwayne Cone Says:

    The Beer Whisperer Says

    They play the Vikings, Lions, and Bears, twice a year. The worst division in NFL.

    Hold that thought because we are getting a Full Plate against the NFC North this season.

    Every one of them even the Lions put 2 in the win column before the season even started back when Tampa was in that weak Division.