More Bowles Than Ever

February 3rd, 2024

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The Arians Gang has scattered to the wind.

At the end of the 2018 season, Jason Licht coaxed Bruce Arians out of retirement to replace Dirk Koetter as head coach. In truth, Arians didn’t require much coaxing. He felt lost and trapped as an NFL analyst for CBS in a 3-man booth with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green.

No talking, keep walking.

Bruce Arians in 2019.

In accepting the Bucs job, and perhaps saving Licht’s job in the process, Arians surrounded himself with dozens of assistant coaches. It was one of the largest, if not THE largest, staff in league history. But when Todd Bowles gathers his team for training camp in six months, few in that original 2019 group will be working out of One Buc Place.

The retirement of special teams coach Keith Armstrong is only the latest in a lengthy list of departures. Even Arians himself is no longer a regular presence at the team facility.

Change is constant in the NFL — and Tampa Bay’s staff is a prime example. Here are some of the original coaches hired by Arians who are no longer with the organization:

Assistant head coach Harold Goodwin just joined Dave Canales in Carolina.

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is out of football.

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen is an offensive analyst at the University of North Carolina.

Running back coach Todd McNair is out of football.

Wide receivers coach Kevin Garver is out of football.

Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert just joined Goodwin and Dave Canales in Carolina.

Offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El coaches wide receivers for the Lions.

Assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust is a defensive assistant with the Titans.

Inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell and special teams assistant Cody Grimm were just dismissed by the Jaguars.

Assistant special teams coach Amos Jones handles special projects for the New York Giants.

Specialists coach Chris Boniol is special teams coordinator for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions.

Bowles currently has several staff positions open, though the big one at playcaller was filled by Liam Coen, who worked with Baker Mayfield in Los Angeles last season.

Despite the retirement of Tom Brady, the 2023 Bucs averaged two more points per game with Canales calling plays for the first time. Canales and Baker Mayfield formed an immediate bond and Bowles appeared pleased with the job Canales turned in. Then Panthers owner Dave Tepper came calling with a fat wallet and a look of desperation, waving a 6-year offer that Canales couldn’t refuse. Who can blame him?

As a result, the Bucs will feature a new offensive coordinator for the third consecutive year.

Clear Leverage

Top priority, says Ira Kaufman.

The established connection between Coen and Mayfield cannot be overstated. Understandably, Bowles doesn’t want Mayfield anywhere near free agency, knowing a team like the quarterback-strapped Falcons would love stealing him away from a division rival.

Last spring, it didn’t take long for Mayfield to win over his new quarterbacks coach, Thad Lewis, who was a handpicked future coordinator hired and groomed by Arians.

“He’s a people person,” Lewis said of Mayfield. “He has a presence, an aura about himself. You can see why the guy was taken No. 1 overall.”

The Bucs are hoping there’s another quick connection between Mayfield and his new playcaller.

Keeping Mayfield under center is the top offseason priority for Bowles, Licht and the Glazers, and there’s no doubt Mayfield had a hand in choosing Coen.

Mayfield has the leverage — and he knows it.

Yes, that warranty is on EVERY new vehicle!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

30 Responses to “More Bowles Than Ever”

  1. MRWright88 Says:

    Pay him.

  2. stpetebucfan Says:

    Leverage? Absolutely! How much? That is the real question.

    Another question. I’m not a Trasker…NOR an anti-Trasker. I give him the benefit of the doubt. He almost edged out Baker in the preseason but Bowles with his job on the line obviously went with the experience. In hindsight that appears to be the correct call. I think Baker brought his own aura to the team with his wreckless running and throwing his body into plays like an LB. Baker’s leading by example was off the charts.

    As Chad and Jeremy sang…”that was yesterday…and yesterday’s gone”.

    I prefer both Baker and ME13 return. I don’t want to mortgage the farm at this point for either. I’m comfortable JL can find another talented WR…he found both ME13 and CG14, and I’m comfortable with Trask and a vet backup.

    It’s just a freaking business. I trust JL to make the right call.

  3. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Mayfield has the leverage — and he knows it.

    If Mayfield has the leverage it’s because Licht handed it to him. All the leverage is with Licht.

    1) This is a QB-rich draft
    2) One “up” season doesn’t erase multiple down seasons for Baker (it’s a start)
    3) There’s still an untested 2nd round QB on the pine
    4) Licht will likely be competing with only 1 (maybe 2) teams for Baker

  4. CleanHouse Says:

    Wondering what his relationship with Raheem was like.

    I wonder if the Joes are overstating this connection with Coen.

    Is Mayfield coming here a sure bet? Maybe he chooses ATL after all? Who knows if they even want him? Lol

    That would surely be a Culverhouse/Parcells at the podium moment and would make me laugh pretty hard

  5. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Baker does not have the leverage. The team can slap the franchise tag, and he again has a prove it deal with a new coordinator. A three year deal is in everyone’s best financial interest. The franchise tag is the great equalizer this season. Baker, Evans, or Winfield is likely to catch it. No way any of them want a one season deal to try and reproduce the incredible seasons they had.

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    PAY DA MAN Bucs!!

  7. Crickett Baker Says:

    Great article. It took a lot of work. Thanks, Ira.

  8. JimBobBuc Says:

    In the reports I just read about Senior Bowl practices, neither Nix or Penix looked so good. Penix left and won’t play in the game. Maybe he didn’t want to look bad or maybe he didn’t want to get hurt. If you think Nix and Penix practices were important, as I do, then both are likely to be slow starters in the NFL. So we pay Baker or tank-with-Trask?

  9. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Wouldn’t a franchise tag take care of it and also make sure Baker has his mojo back before offering him a longer deal?

  10. gotbbucs Says:

    Big reason why so many teams are now hell bent on hiring an offensive minded head coach that calls his own offense.

  11. Proudbucsfan Says:

    My comment disappeared

  12. OHBucFan Says:

    Leverage schmeverage. The Bucs signed him in good faith and it’s reasonable to suggest that they’ll negotiate in good faith. Franchise tag is the ace.

  13. SlyPirate Says:


    Who’s Bakers market? Seriously. Look at all the QB needy teams. They’ll draft a QB before paying a journeyman who had Evans to pad his stats. Bucs are bidding against themselves.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … ‘Keeping Mayfield under center is the top offseason priority for Bowles, Licht and the Glazers, and there’s no doubt Mayfield had a hand in choosing Coen. Mayfield has the leverage — and he knows it.’

    Wow, nice bottom line Sage. If only it were true.

    Baker is A top priority, but not THE top priority. If the Bucs think that inking Mayfield will insure that Evans re-signs, they’re sadly mistaken. Bucs can’t afford Mayfield at $35 mil, Evans at $25 mil, Winfield at $20 mil, McLaughlin at $5 mil AND LVD at close to $10 mil. The last 3 are the keepers. Besides, my bet is that Winfield is Todd Bowles top priority, with a top-tier FA DE/OLB as the next priority (at around $20 mil).

    Mayfield without Evans is just another QB (heck, Mike caught nearly half of Baker’s TD passes … and made Baker look really good in the process). ME13 is gone; JL screwed up in not closing that door this past season. And it would tick off Mike to no end if the Bucs opted to franchise tag him (lots of $$$ but that’s not how you treat a 10-year future HOFer).

    Convinced that our offense will be significantly different this season. It’ll be about 40% run & 60% pass, but the running game will be much improved because our OLine will be much improved (Bucs will acquire 2 quality OLinemen, 1 in FA & 1 in the draft). We’ll also draft a stud RB to pair with Rachaad, PLUS draft a high-round WR (and a lower round TE), as well as sign a veteran WR in FA to replace Evans. Mayfield will get snarfed up by some team with the Big Bucks, and we’ll sign a veteran QB for low $$$ to … wait for it … compete yet again in Spring training with Kyle Trask. To give all the TraskMob hope, I’m convinced he’ll win the competition this time.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Proudbucsfan … ‘My comment disappeared’.

    Happens to me all the time. Really frustrating, especially when you take the time to try to provide a clean, hopefully pertinent comment.

    What I’ve found is that if I hit the ‘Back’ in the browser (I use the Brave browser because it’s faster & doesn’t show the trashy ads that some other browsers do), then my comment reappears where I wrote it. Then I’ll delete a paragraph or 2 and try to resend it. If that goes OK, I’ll paste the paragraph or 2 that I deleted into a new comment and see if that’ll go. Sometimes it will for some reason; sometimes it won’t. Sometimes all it takes is changing 1 word and off it goes.

    Interestingly, I’ve had times when I try to send JUST the quote from the article that I starting with and guess what … IT won’t go. Bizarre. The JBF algorithm rejects Joe’s own quote. Makes me wonder if it sends HIM to the cooler as a consequence.

  16. Joe Says:

    Baker is A top priority, but not THE top priority.

    Yes, Mayfield is *the* top priority. And yes he knows he has the leverage.

    Bucs won their way out of range for trading up to grab a quarterback. So no Mayfield, what then, Gardner Minshew? The time to tank for a quarterback was 2023, not 2024.

    No Mayfield and Bucs lose. And if Bucs lose, Todd Bowles gets run. Joe understands there are many who pray that happens but Joe is very confident in typing that Bowles is not striving to grant these folks their wish.

  17. unbelievable Says:

    Reading through that list… most of those guys don’t exactly seem to be in high demand, lol (outside of the 2 that bolted to Charlotte with Canales).

  18. Just Saying Says:

    Baker didn’t do so much or play so well that he is more important/ valuable to the team than Wirfs, Winfield, McLaughlin, LVD. Also the choice is in Baker’s hands he may favor the Rams running ATL more than the one coming here. Especially if ATL can show him the money. Lastly if the competition was neck and neck last spring with Trask then the drop off may not be that significant in fact the team may be better.

  19. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Joe says:

    “No Mayfield and Bucs lose.”

    Really, Joe? And people call me negative.

    We picked up the guy off the scrapheap for pennies this year. He spent the preseason neck-and-neck with a player that has no experience. Rookie QBs have managed winning seasons several times. CIN was competitive with a backup QB after Burrow went down. Purdy came out of nowhere to be productive.

    Your prediction that the “Bucs lose” without Baker is pretty jaded. If you have a good OC and a decent supporting cast we can win with other QBs.

  20. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    I’m hoping we can keep the band together along with the new coaching hires, and see what Mayfield can do with a few solid years of stability around him, something he’s never had.

    He showed us his grit and determination this past season with a new, inexperienced OC. I fully expect to see a better Baker and more wins after having a solid foundation under him for a couple of years.

    I think he can do it. Show him the money

  21. NCBuc Says:

    D.R. is absolutely correct. ME has made plenty of money making ok QBs look better than they. Check the Joe’s love fest with Manzel. Where is he now? I can’t remember. This team needs ME, AW, and LD. With the offensive weapons that the Bucs have, you can sign another ok QB, maybe draft one, or start Trask. Mayfield is not the be all end all.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘Yes, Mayfield is *the* top priority. And yes he knows he has the leverage.’

    No question that Bowles likes Mayfield & wants him back, but Baker is looking out for Baker (and I don’t blame him one bit). Money is THE issue, and for the Bucs to throw a bunch of it at Mayfield would condemn them to walk the same path that New Orleans is now walking with Carr.

    There are at least 2 FA QBs out there who could do just as well as Mayfield with the Bucs IMO. One is Ryan Tannehill, the other is Mason Rudolph (and that’s without counting Kyle Trask in the mix, and IMO he deserves to be in the discussion).

    Ryan Tannehill (35 yrs old, 6’4″ & 217 lbs) has a Market Value of $4.9 mil (he just finished his 5th-year with the Titans, after being with the Dolphins for 6 years). Has a 81-70 career record, completing 64.3% of his passes with a TD% of 4.5%, an INT% of 2.4%, and an average yards/attempt of 7.3 Y/A.

    Mason Rudolph (28 yrs old, 6’5″ & 235 lbs) has a Market Value of who knows what (he just finished his 4th-year with the Steelers, but they’ll surely be drafting a QB this year). Probably the $4-$5 mil range though. Has a 8-4-1 career record with Pittsburgh, completing 63.5% of his passes with a TD% of 4.1%, an INT% of 2.4%, and an average yards/attempt of 6.7 Y/A.

    And for those still wondering, Baker Mayfield (28 yrs old, 6’1″ & 215 lbs) has a Market Value of $27.1 mil. Has a 40-46 career record, completing 61.9% of his passes with a TD% of 4.6%, an INT% of 2.6%, and an average yards/attempt of 7.2 Y/A.

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    realistic-optimistic … ‘If you have a good OC and a decent supporting cast we can win with other QBs.’

    Agree. The supporting cast is critical. If we splurge on bringing back Mayfield & Evans, the supporting cast will suffer. I’d much rather bring back Winfield, McLaughlin & LVD (plus a few other of our own FAs), build ‘the cast’ by adding a few quality FAs in the trenches & as weapons AND via the draft. Folks thought we were gonna be dogmeat last year because Brady retired & several FAs left, but we did reasonably well with the few pennies that we had. Even if Mayfield & Evans move on to richer pastures, we’ve still got a lot to work with.

  24. Joe Says:

    Ryan Tannehill
    Mason Rudolph

    LOL Please! Just say you prefer tanking. (The year to tank was last year, not this year.)

    The absolutely only reason you sign Ryan Tannehill or Mason Rudolph is to tank. Hell, may as well save the cash and start Kyle Trask. At least a significant segment of the fan will stand at attention through all the losing.

  25. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Wasn’t it said that Bowles/Canales were building an offensive system that took the pressure off of the QB? A system that could get decent production from lesser QBs? Why would you give 25+ mil to an average QB when you can give 5 mil to an average QB? Seems like basic accounting if you’re not emotionally invested.

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘The absolutely only reason you sign Ryan Tannehill or Mason Rudolph is to tank.’

    Those are probably the best 2 in our price range right now, that’s all. There’ll be others in time. You might want to give them a relook when neither Mayfield nor Evans re-sign.

    And I’m still convinced that Bowles is trying to build San Fran East. The Bucs’ FA moves & draft will show that. Give it time.

  27. Daniel Z Says:

    If you think Mason Rudolph and 35-year-old Ryan Tannehill are a viable option at QB1, you should probably lose your internet privileges for a week.

  28. BakerBucs Says:

    Realistic-ootimistic u r so boring with the same post day after day u r wife must b bored with as much as this site is bored with u r predictable bs come up with something new and improved but u r not as smart enough to rustle up some real brain tapping commentary jackass

  29. BakerBucs Says:

    Average QB compared to who he has a qbr for 2023 was 10th in the league I say out of 32 that puts him above average if u know how to count all I know is his best stay for 2923 was the perfect pass rating at Green Bay this year that tells the story all u need to know about average what a jackass op- realistic is

  30. Badbucs Says:

    DR is right. The bottom 3 need to be re-signed as priorities . ME and Baker are luxury we can’t afford. Unless you’re convinced Baker is a franchise QB. Still can’t afford both. Spend the 1st rounder on WR if you have to but you cant spend 27 million on each of them.