The Sporting News: Todd Bowles = Mediocre Football

September 5th, 2023

Called out.

One of the oldest sports publications doesn’t believe this story will change.

Joe Rivera, typing for The Sporting News (Joe’s old enough to remember when this was damn near the bible of weekly sports magazines), is not bullish on the Bucs this fall. At all.

The publication launched in 1886 has its list of 2023 teams it believes have a zero chance of winning the Super Bowl.

Now Joe guesses your immediate reaction is probably the same as Joe’s: “Here’s another Baker Mayfield-hating piece.” But no, Rivera doesn’t believe the Bucs are sunk because of Mayfield — though he does believe Mayfield is a symptom of why the Bucs will be bad.

One what/who does Rivera blame the Bucs’ woes? That would be head coach Todd Bowles.

In short, Rivera believes Bowles personifies mediocre. And that’s what he believes the Bucs will be.

The 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were, in a word, toothless, which is a hell of a thing to say about a team that was formerly coached by Bruce Arians.

But Todd Bowles-coached teams have had a tendency of being light on fire and heavy on mediocrity, and that hasn’t changed heading into 2023. Now with Baker Mayfield at the helm and trade rumors surrounding Mike Evans, the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl 55 win seems firmly in the rearview mirror.

Tampa Bay has the benefit of playing in a weak NFC South, so there’s a chance they could sneak in and make the playoffs, but don’t mistake this team for one that has an actual chance at winning a Super Bowl. They’re closer to blowing it all up than hoisting up another Lombardi this year.

Caiming Bowles’ teams are mediocre, Rivera believes the Bucs’ record will thus be mediocre, finishing 8-9.

Joe maintains the Bucs defense will be good and damn good if they can develop an edge rush to help Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett. It’s the offense that worries Joe.

Folks are down on Mayfield, yeah Joe gets it. But it is the run game that Joe wonders about. Bowles wants to run the ball. It’s nice to say that, but where are the horses?

Joe is sure people will scream about undrafted rookie Sean Tucker and he could be one of those horses. But that’s a helluva leap in faith to think he will be the difference-maker.

Joe is still stunned by the work that new Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales did with Kyle Trask in a matter of six weeks this summer. It truly was extraordinary how far Trask progressed from a bubble player to a borderline starter.

For that reason alone, Canales gives Joe hope.

Hope, however, is not evidence.

Ira Kaufman Draws A Line In The Sand On Todd Bowles’ Bucs Future, Names His Overachiever On Offense, And Much More

37 Responses to “The Sporting News: Todd Bowles = Mediocre Football”

  1. Pewter Power Says:

    Rivera believes Bowles personifies mediocre.

    Can’t argue with that take I believe that as well.

    Stephen A Smith will spin it some other way if Bowles get fired like he did when leftwich was fired. As a black man I don’t care, if you’re not good at your job it’s finds someone who cares to do better. Bowles hasn’t proven to be a good quarterback.

    I think the whole calm and sleepy attitude just doesn’t work with the generation of athletes

  2. Pewter Power Says:

    Damn that take was a hot mess but y’all get what I mean

  3. Onetrickpony Says:

    The darts thrown at Todd Bowels, he earned.
    Mediocre, we will see, depends if he keeps his hands off the offense, which I can’t believe he will. Time will tell

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    I like your logic train on this one Joe. Our defense, IF it can stay healthy, has a chance to be ‘damn good’ as you said. Bengals ranked #5 last year & surrendered 322 points … 19 PPG. Steelers ranked #10 last year & gave up 346 points … 20.5 PPG. Bucs fell off some last year, but still only gave up 358 points (21 PPG). We can get back into the Top 5-10 this year, PROVIDING that our run defense improves.

    Offensively we can get into the middle-of-the-pack IMO with either Baker or Trask as our QB. Falcons ranked #15 last year, scoring a total of 365 points. Bucs only scored 313 points last year, and would have to improve by about 3 PPG (just a FG) to match the Falcons’ production (and achieve a #15 ranking). I think that’s perfectly doable, although I also think our offense will be more productive in the 2nd half of the season than in the first half.

    Personally I find it rather offensive that Sporting News called our HC ‘heavy on mediocrity’ in 1 breath, then continues on saying that we might make the playoffs. Duh! Bowles is in charge of a team that’s footing the bills for our Super Bowl runs in 2020 & 2021. I’m getting more & more excited about what our youngsters will hopefully add to this team this year. A big part of that will be as a result of the development that Bowles & his coaching staff provided.

  5. catcard202 Says:

    Hope is not a plan…

    I see the article on Bowles coaching/outcomes as fair…He’s a heck of DC but has yet to really fortify himself as a true NFL HC worthy of any praise. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

    What he accomplished with the Jets…Is…Well it was the Jets…So, I get it…But taking a team on the brink of another SB in 2021 under BA & transitioning that team into what we all witnessed in 2022 did not set well with ANYONE…And 2023 does not look to be a better season.

    He’s 1000% on the hot seat…If this yr goes south early…Glazers might actually cut the rope in season (which they have never done) & who could blame them.

  6. Bobby M. Says:

    Been saying this…..In all the years Brady played, his only losing season was under Bowles. We actually could have won the game against Atlanta but Bowles coaches to be safe. Keep in mind, the excuse for Bowles in NY was he didn’t have a franchise QB. Last yr he had one, the greatest of all time, in the weakest division in the league and he still serves up mediocrity.

  7. Rod Munch Says:

    As a kid, I remember spending my allowance money getting a subscription to Sporting News – those were awesome. At some point in the mid-90s they changed their format from ‘hard’ news to doing more fluff garbage like Sports Illustrated and it went all downhill from there, to being basically anonymous now. Just give me stats, what is happening, with some opinion pieces – don’t bore me with smiling personality pieces where no one says anything interesting.

  8. Hodad Says:

    It’s easy to be right picking teams that won’t make the SB, because 31 out of 32 teams don’t! This guy must be a savant.

  9. Dwayne Cone Says:

    Joe is still stunned by the work that new Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales did with Kyle Trask in a matter of six weeks this summer.

    I guess all I can say is Imagine where Trask would be if he didn’t lay around all off season and play Madden.

  10. Jvato24 Says:

    This guy must actually watch Bucs football 🤣 He’s not wrong, but Joe, I’m going to firmly disagree about Sean Tucker, there is a very good chance he would have been a 2nd round pick, higher than Rachaad White, viewing him as a typical UFA is off base, White in pictures still carries that ball loose, he starts fumbling, look for Tucker to be the starter by week 5

  11. Rod Munch Says:

    Ronnie Brown was more impressive in the preseason than Tucker – who didn’t stand out in any way. No idea what people are talking about with him, seems like a good backup, but that’s about it. With that said, certainly not rooting against him, but he’s no challenger to White.

  12. Dwayne Cone Says:

    As far as rushing goes Bucs had 1519 (4.1 YAC) in the Super Bowl Year.
    Our current QB had Backs that year that chipped in 2374 (4.8 YPC) and another 454 Receiving as he was single handedly (according to Skippy) carrying them to their first Playoff win in forever.

    I am sure the 90 million ‘extra’ dollars ownership pumped into talent the previous few years prior helped a great deal to get that 11-5 record. But hey what do I know. Money the Bucs really don’t have available to spend.

    1500 yards was enough to set up the passing game pretty well with the Star Studded O Line the Bucs had that year. I Imagine Tampa could get to 10-7 or better having a QB that has the same passing skills and a better deep ball than the QB in 2020. I hear it will give you Goosebumps.

    Imagine what the Bucs could do with 2400 yards rushing. Out of the question?

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    The Bears rushed for over 3000-yards last year, and it got them the #1 pick in the draft.

    It’s not 1966 anymore.

  14. HC Grover Says:

    Sporting News shoots. Sporting News scores.

  15. Bobby M. Says:

    I think we’re in a very unique situation in that a bad start but good QB play could make the Bucs wonder what they have in Canales. Bucs traditionally promote a coordinator, if Bowles isn’t getting it done and we’re looking at next yrs draft, maybe we see if Canales is worth hanging on to for whatever QB we draft next season. The league is geared for the offense, the Tomlins and Belichicks are the exception and they are fading. Bowles isn’t remotely in their caliber of coaching so I don’t see any long term success with his “safe” mindset. At best, Bowles is a solid DC IF he’s got a reliable scoring offense. Bowles style of defense only works if he can apply pressure all the time. You can only do that if you have an offensive that puts together scoring drives repeatedly. That’s why it worked the first two yrs….once the offense started to sputter, so did his defense.

  16. Dave Pear Says:

    Bowles is definitely deserving of his reputation, although it’s an insult to the term mediocre.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Bobby M … ‘At best, Bowles is a solid DC IF he’s got a reliable scoring offense. Bowles style of defense only works if he can apply pressure all the time’.

    Interesting analysis Bobby. In 2020 our offense scored 492 points … our defense allowed 355 points.

    In 2021 our offense scored 511 points … our defense allowed 353 points.

    In 2022 our offense scored 313 points … our defense allowed 358 points.

    Kinda looks like to me that Bowles’ defense was amazingly consistent over that 3 year stretch (355, 353, 358 points allowed), while the offense didn’t show the same consistency (492, 511, then 313 points scored).

    Since blitzing reflects pressure applied, those numbers should also be consistent over those 3 years according to your analysis. His defenses blitzed 542 times in 2020, then 532 times in 2021, but only 250 times last year.

    My conclusion would be that Bowles the DC successfully adapted his defensive strategies & tactics to the changing offensive output. And he did it on a team that put the majority of its’ salary CAP resources into offense.

  18. William Walls Says:

    I would generally agree that the Bucs’ record this year will likely range from 8-9 to 11-6, and where they fall within that range will mostly rely on Todd Bowles’ coaching decisions. I’m guarded but hopeful.

  19. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Proof is in the pudding and the fact he wants a ball control offense tells us all we need to know, 1999 all over again except we don’t have the generational defense to bail out our offense. We will be down by 21 if he finally decides to take the brakes off. Like against the Chiefs last year.

  20. StretchOMatic Says:

    Bowles needs to start watching some film that would be beneficial for his coaching. That film would be Deion Sanders’ locker room speeches! Coach Prime can FIRE UP a team for sure! Bowles couldn’t fire up a can of Sterno if you gave him 3 tries and a book of matches!

  21. Duane Says:

    These bs prognostications make no sense. Todd Bowles’s defenses have been good to very good. Bowles doesn’t call offensive plays. Bowles doesn’t sign any of the players. So how is it possible that he is the main source of suck?

    If Bowles was trying to run the offense too, they might have a point. If they think and can show that Dave Canales sucks as an offensive coordinator and play caller, really sucks, they might have a point. If they think Jason Licht really sucks at building rosters such that the Bucs have no talent, they might have a point.

    But since they cite none of those other potential sources of suck, it just defies logic to claim that the Bucs will suck this season mostly because of Todd Bowles.

    Of course a lot of the fake Bucs fan commenters here at JBF agree with that same illogic.

    Stupid plus stupid still equals twice the stupidity.

  22. Duane Says:

    Stretch o matic – So Neon Deon really fires up his players to all of, what, one single win at major college level coaching immature teenagers? … while the winningest yet most stone faced and least inspiring coach in NFL History is the GOAT with more wins and Super Bowl championships than any other NFL coach.

    You seem to have your causes and effects all screwed up.

    NFL coaching of mature MEN is vastly more about teaching and leadership and accountability and respect than it is about college level rah rah crap.

  23. Cobraboy Says:

    For Bowles, “mediocre” is a compliment.

  24. Craig Says:

    A mediocre coach in a mediocre division. There is not a winning coach to be found in the division, so it is a toss-up of who can win. Untested OCs going big, untested QBs who find their groove, or an unknown and almost rookie defense that has glimpses of possibilities but that is all.

    It seems like a race to the bottom for the entire NASCAR division, who can get closest to the number 1 pick?

  25. No Mercy Says:

    I can’t help but wonder how well the Bucs would’ve been last year with Bill Belicheck as coach instead of Bowles.. I have a hard time seeing that team win less than 10 games in our weak division.. I’m not a Bowles hater but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify him keeping his job. He seems to be the polar opposite of Arians “no risk it no Biscuit” policy which is rather odd considering how close they are. I’m not a fan of playing scared, but he can still redeem himself if he gives Canales the keys to the offense completely and puts his full focus on us having a top 5-10 defense

  26. Power Of Pewter Says:

    If the OLine gets it together, the skill players are good enough to win. If the Defense generates a pass rush, they’re good enough to win. So it’s going to come down to the coaches. Can they get the team, and their careers, over the hump? Let’s see it. Start on this Sunday, 1st quarter. Take the lead. Don’t surrender it.

  27. Voice of Truth Says:

    It’s a long, physical season and our depth is non existent

    The schedule isn’t crazy hard, but I have to agree with the pundits – this is a 5-6 win team – 7 would be overachieving

    Read that depth chart again and be honest with yourself….

  28. DoooshLaRue Says:

    What do we have invested in WR?
    Before Russell the Muscle Gage went down it was what? 70 million?

    So yeah, let’s run that ball…….

  29. Pittbucfan Says:

    Hope in one hand and s(p)it in the other. Smh

  30. FortMyersDave Says:

    The article is spot on about Bowles and an 8-9 prediction would make a lot of tge Peter King’s of the world look foolish as he firmly thinks the Bucs will challenge the Cards for the basement.

  31. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – His defenses blitzed 542 times in 2020, then 532 times in 2021, but only 250 times last year.


    OH, that’s the stat I’ve been looking everywhere for. Great find.

    AND it proves what I’ve said all, once Arians left, Bowles went back to being the cowardly coach I’ve always thought he was.

    Your analysis that, because the points stayed about the same, it’s no big deal that he blitzed less is nonsense. The offense scoring points meant other teams had to be more aggressive to keep up, which means they had to score points – and often would get garbage late points. Also in 2020, there was only 16 games, which changes those numbers a bit.

    I’m actually shocked the Bucs blitzed that much in 2021 since it seems like they went to a lot of zone once all the corners got hurt – and again, I don’t fault the team at all for doing that, since they were getting constantly burned when they played aggressive and you’re pulling guys off their couch and starting them at corner a few days later. But last year, they had their manpower back.

    With that said, the defense was fine last year, but if this team is to have any sort of chance, they need to be exceptional. But with the gutless Bowles in charge, they’re not going to do that, since Bowles is more worried about losing than he is about winning.

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – oh, and I meant to say, while I disagree with you on some points, that was an excellent take, backed up with stats, and I appreciate that. I wish more people put some effort into their posts instead of just posting stupid bumper sticker garbage where they just repeat what someone else said.

    BTW, where did you find that blitz info from? Another thing, however, is what they count as a blitz. Since the Bucs play a 3-4, are they saying that sending 4 is technically a blitz? To me, what made that 2020 Bucs defense so awesome, was that Packers game where you had these exotic multiple man blitzes, like when they were sending White and David up the middle, just totally flustering Rodgers. Last year, in particular, I don’t recall those ‘exotic’ blitzes, and it didn’t even seem like people remembered that it was a thing.

  33. Tye Says:

    ‘Todd Bowles = Mediocre Football’

    Last year is proof enough… Took over a Tom Brady led (high scoring) winning team and made them struggle to score!….

  34. Usfbuc Says:

    Bowles is uninspiring but he has always been known as a good DC. Idk what goes into being a head coach but hopefully he can stay out of the way of the new OC and let him run the offense.

    The more negative news I hear the more I am being convinced that we will put perform expectations.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “Rivera believes the Bucs’ record will thus be mediocre, finishing 8-9.” – Joe

    The Bucs finishing 8-9 would be a nightmare. We need either 10-7 (or better) or we need 3-14 (or worse).

    Anything in-between means we do not have a quality QB on the roster and we won’t get one in the draft.

  36. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I will say this regarding last year…injuries and personal distractions are what did the team in. It really wasn’t Bowle’s fault…or Leftwich’s fault.

    While true Leftwich was not a good OC…if Brady were not suffering from personal distractions, then Brady would have been more reliable, resulting in better offensive production.

    But it was the injuries that did the most damage…the offensive line was decimated. Scrubs were starting. Cannot really hold the offense against Bowles, and the defense was not bad.

    That said…I do believe our defense will be our saving grace this year…to a point. Mayfield will turn the ball over so much that the defense will get worn out…and so injuries may occur.

    We shall see.

  37. garro Says:

    These guys must be lined up outside Joes local 7-eleven holding signs. Looking for work.

    Geez! Just when you think Joe might have run out of these blabbering idiots yet another one appears!

    Go Bucs!