“Todd Willed Them”

January 18th, 2024

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The calm demeanor that defines Todd Bowles infuriates some members of Buc Nation. They crave more passion, more juice.

Well, get used to it because Bowles isn’t going anywhere and his even-keel approach ultimately saved Tampa Bay’s season. Don’t take my word for it — listen to a veteran member of his coaching staff.

Todd Bowles is all smiles these days.

“When we hit that slump, our guys just kept on playing,” says safeties coach Nick Rapone. “That’s hard to do. Todd didn’t change a thing. He just told the players, keep on working, and that’s what they did … as simple as that. Todd held them together. Todd willed them. My hat’s off to him.”

Forecast by Vegas oddsmaker to win 6 or 7 games, the Bucs are 10-8 heading into Sunday’s divisional-round matchup at Detroit. Although Tampa Bay has shown marked improvement in his second season, Bowles has hardly won over all of his critics.

A recent poll on this website revealed that while 51 percent of respondents are confident in Bowles, 30 percent still have little or no faith in him as a head coach.

Todd Bowles has full approval of Team Glazer, writes Ira.

Most importantly, Bowles has won over the people who sign the checks at One Buc Place. That’s a huge relief for Rapone and other assistant coaches who had to be wondering about their job security in November as the Bucs tumbled to 4-7 after a 3-1 getaway.

“Everything they’ve been through has made them who they are,” says Lions coach Dan Campbell. “They were pretty hot early, then hit a tough spot in there and found a way to get over the hump. But they never panicked, never went into the tank, and that’s very much Todd Bowles, too.”

Bowles preaches consistency to his players and that’s what he displays at the podium. There’s a ton of personality he hides in public, but you should have seen him 45 minutes after trouncing the Eagles as he celebrated with family and friends before driving off for a few hours of sleep.

His wife, Taneka, might have set a record for most hugs within a 2-minute span.

Laughter and smiles were in abundance as Bowles let his guard down, out of public view. This wasn’t a time to talk about execution, playing smart and coaching better.

This was a moment to revel in what the 2023 Bucs have accomplished. There’s a lot to celebrate — and it ain’t over yet.

Turning Point

Everything changed on the afternoon of Dec. 10, when Baker Mayfield shook off a dismal start and rallied the Bucs past Atlanta. Tampa Bay entered Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 5-7 while the Falcons were 6-6, having already beaten Tampa Bay on the road.

Had the Bucs lost, they would have essentially been three games behind Atlanta for the division lead with only four games remaining. Mayfield had thrown for only 94 yards when Tampa Bay took possession at its 25 with 3:23 remaining, trailing 25-22.

A 2-yard run off left guard by Rachaad White on 4th-and-1 sustained the winning drive. Mayfield found Chris Godwin for 32 yards on 3rd-and-10 before hitting Cade Otton from 11 yards out for a riveting 29-25 triumph.

The Falcons never recovered and Arthur Smith paid the price while the Bucs are two wins away from the Super Bowl.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Todd and just the way he goes about his business,” Campbell says. “You’re not going to get him frazzled and that’s why his team is playing the way they’re playing.”

Six losses within a 7-game span will test the fortitude of any team. Yet the Bucs held together, spurred by their unflappable head coach. With his job likely on the line, Bowles remained true to character.

“For the players, I couldn’t be happier,” says Rapone, who has helped Antoine Winfield Jr. develop into an All-Pro safety. “To pull out of that slump, then win six out of seven, not bad. We have too many good kids for them to turn on each other. That wasn’t going to happen.”

Although Tampa Bay is one of only eight teams still alive, Bowles has more than a few skeptics. He’s winning over fans with each victory and an upset win at Ford Field might just silence any remaining critics.


At the age of 60, Todd Bowles seems very comfortable in his own skin. Now he’s got the skins on the wall to reinforce that confidence and maybe, just maybe, he’s earned the full respect of Buc Nation for a job well done.

24 Responses to ““Todd Willed Them””

  1. TomBucsFan Says:

    Go Bucs

  2. Buccos Says:

    I have believed in Bowles since day one. He is the most underratedcoach in America. N one could have succeeded with the Jets but it was great experience and he is well prepared for this go round

  3. Lol Says:

    Todd also “willed” a Tom Brady team to an 8-9 records and a blowout playoff loss to Dallas.

    So I am very interested to see how this year finishes and how next year plays out. Todd has truly coached his way to deserving at least one more year as head coach.

    Until I see some consistency on the field, I will still have little confidence in coach Bowles.

    Just based off his track record so far he deserves the questioning and hot seat

  4. NYbucsfan Says:

    I give Todd very little credit. He stinks as a head coach he’s benefited from some luck this season in the form of an easy schedule a s*** division and a plummeting Eagles team in the first round of the playoffs. I think we could all agree that he’s made some stupid calls this season even as recently as two weeks ago against the Panthers. He may have bought himself another season but it’s only a matter of time before he gets canned.

  5. J Says:

    Fantastic job, coach Bowles!

  6. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Bucs fans should be more appreciative of Bowles, obviously not a tier 1 head coach but he brings an element that lots of HCs cant which is being a wizard coaching defense.

    I think the main adjustment he’s learned from last season is have less input on the offensive side of the ball and just focus primarily on defense

    No doubt he’s improved as an HC from last year

  7. Bosch Says:

    I think Mayfield had more to do with keeping this team together than Bowles did. Be that as it may, they are definitely a tight group and as a fan, that is a reason to be proud of your team.

  8. Buddha Says:

    Kudos to the Glazers who have perhaps the best record of any NFL franchise for minority hiring. They took a risk with Dungy and he built a great team. Now he is sticking with Bowles, a coach very similar to Dungy in manner and decency. The players loved! Dungy and they love Todd too. In missed it, Todd Bowles is one of the top two or three defensive coaches in respect around the league. Tampa will have no difficulty attracting free agents cuz players around the league have profound respect for him.

  9. Frank Pillow Says:

    I’ve been VERY hard on Coach Bowles…but it was all earned. The way the we’re losing games; the way they’d come out flat; that’s just not the sign what I’d like to see in a head football coach. That being said, winning is the ultimate elixir. And Coach Bowles deserves a lot of credit for nearly winning out and delivering an electrifying team Wildcard win. I’d like to think he has learned to stay aggressive and play to win. It sure looked like it on Monday. Well earned kudos to Coach Bowels and the entire team!!!

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent upbeat article Ira. Thanks.

  11. Bojim Says:

    He earned it this year. Congrats Todd.

  12. geno711 Says:

    Thanks for the insights Ira from some inside sources.

    I will take your sources and insights over many others.

    Always felt you were very fair in your assessments.

  13. stpetebucfan Says:

    Great piece Ira. From the title which says it all…”Todd willed them” to this great observation….

    “At the age of 60, Todd Bowles seems very comfortable in his own skin.”

    I relate. It took me until freaking 70 to feel comfortable in my own skin.

    I finally adopted Ricky Nelson’s great line from his hit “Garden Party”

    “But it’s all right now
    I learned my lesson well
    You see, you can’t please everyone
    So you got to please yourself”

    Wonder how much of that Ricky Nelson philosophy TB picked up from coaching in NFL hell for the J E T S.

    I was with everyone here and in fact still think he’s too conservative but Todd…stuck to his guns. He’s a man who is not easily shaken. Sometimes as fans that can seem to suck…but in actuality all organizations benefit from “rocks” of stability.

    I haven’t felt this good about the Bucs going forward in a long time. Not talking about Sunday but the next few years.

  14. stpetebucfan Says:

    LMAO IRA if you had posted this piece before the last Bowles survey I would have jumped from confident to totally confident.

  15. Allen Lofton Says:

    I read where some of you have little confidence in Todd Bowles. What if Nick Sirianni was swapped for Todd Bowles in 2023, you would be celebrating the 10-1 start but singing the Blues at the 1-5 finish and a blowout loss in the Wild Card playoff game.
    There’s an expression “it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. Being hipped-up when you go into a drought of loses rings hollow, but the personality of a Todd Bowles of consistently being even-Kile has turned the Bucs team into a contender. We have been watching this enfold our this 2023 season.

  16. Popcorn Mike Says:

    As I’ve said here many times before, I and so many others questioned Bowles throughout that losing streak but, as I said, the Glazers and football people around league knew a lot more about Bowles leadership HC coaching abilities then we Bucs fans. Bowles has a 5 year contract so that says something alone about how the Glazers feel about Bowles. I still need to see more from Bowles and Mayfield before I become a believer but the important people here are the Glazers

  17. Darin Says:

    If they played in any other division bowles would ha e been fired already after another 500 year. Let’s not get carried away. He is going somewhere, just not yet. He did great against Philly I’ll give him that.

  18. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The way he handled the DEI “reporter” who asked about the weather in Detroit affecting the players preparing for the game shows what a class guy Bowles is.

  19. Buccos Says:

    I agree that right now we have a brighter future than the Tom Brady years because we have a much younger team. Hopefully Dave Canales stays put for at least one more year. This squad is more promising than any in the last 20 years. Our Super Bowl team was comprised of some veteran players, many of whom were hunting a Super Bowl in their twilight years. Even back in the Dungy era we never had a young franchise quarterback. I was at the game on Monday night and that place was going crazy. We were standing the entire game, screaming our lungs out. It is amazing the change in outlook from earlier in the season

  20. orlbucfan Says:

    Detroit still has a line on the big MO: Motivation. They have never won a SB. I don’i know who will win Sunday ??

  21. FortMyersDave Says:

    I have to admit I was wrong about Bowles, I really thought when the Bucs were 4-7 the only question was if the Bucs would hit the over on the +/- win total of 6.5 and if the Glazers had already started putting out feelers for Bowles’ replacement like they did with Schiano when they were 0-8 on the way to a 4-12 season. Coach Bowles has earned another year as had Baker, fans need to accept this fact of life even if they may not like it. Hopefully we are chatting next Thursday night about a matchup either against Green Bay or more likely a revenge game against SF. Go Bucs!

  22. garro Says:

    Ira you are very fair minded individual. And we are fortunate to have you to chronicle the Bucs, win or lose.

    Bowles definitely does not wear his feelings on his sleeve. At least not in “public”. He also hurts himself at times with that because it invites undue speculation.

    He has ,at times been his own worst enemy this year and last by how he deals with that speculation. Some of the things he has said to the press have caused him alot of grief that was totally avoidable. Sometimes bordering on the absurd.

    I do not dislike the man, (quite the opposite) and I am not saying he should be anyone but himself. However for his own sake and that of the Bucs I hope he reviews this and makes some degree of change in what he says to the “public” at press conferences.

    However Bowles does realize the press these days are like sharks in a feeding frenzy and that is a good thing! (Not you Ira)

    Go Bucs!

  23. Jmarkbuc Says:

    St. Brown
    And a top flight O Line.

    Bowles better bring all of his Wizardry

  24. gotbbucs Says:

    I can’t figure Bowles out. During the regular season it is just infuriating some games to watch him continually line DB’s up 9 yards off the ball and play zone all game long. Then all of the sudden, playoffs start, and he’s got a multitude of coverages and blitz packages that he hasn’t shown all season.
    It reminds me of the scene in “Jaws” when Quint gets that fist bite fishing. He sets the hook and the shark goes under the boat and let’s Quint reel him in easily. “He’s either very smart or very stupid…..no, he’s a big smart fish”. Then right when he gets to the boat the shark bites through the leader.
    Bowles is the shark. I can’t tell if he’s been stupid all regular season, or if he’s been playing opposum all year long waiting for the playoffs before he unleashes his exotic blitz/coverage combos.