Buccaneers bombshell: Bruce Arians steps down as head coach, Todd Bowles takes over

Bruce Arians Buccaneers
Jan 16, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shocked the NFL world late Wednesday when he told Peter King of NBC Sports and Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times that he will be stepping aside from his current position, allowing defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to take over.

“Succession has always been huge for me, with the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, [and] with Tom Brady coming back,” Arians said. “I’d rather see Todd in a position to be successful and not have to take some [crappy] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now.

“I don’t control it next February because [if] Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job … I got 31 [coaches and their] families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting all those families down.”

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Todd Bowles
Todd Bowles/ Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rollercoaster offseason for the Buccaneers, who initially saw Tom Brady retire after 22 seasons, only to return just two months later.

Arians and the Hall-of-Fame quarterback won Super Bowl LV two seasons ago, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, which provided the first thoughts of stepping away from coaching. Brady’s return, however, ensures that Tampa Bay is in a competitive place and in a comfortable situation where they can transition coaches.

“Tom was kind of the key,” Arians continued. “When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into the front office and still have the relationships that I love.”

In three seasons with the team, the 69-year-old went 31-18 while taking Tampa Bay to the playoffs twice.

This is Bowles’ second full-time head-coaching job in the NFL now after he spent four seasons with the New York Jets, compiling a 24-40 record during that stretch.