After back-to-back 5-11 seasons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired head coach Dirk Koetter and charged general manager Jason Licht with the responsibility of finding his replacement in 2019. One candidate Licht will certainly consider is former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, whom Licht knows from his 2013 season working with Arians in Arizona.

Arians left coaching because of health concerns so there is a possibility he may continue to stay away from the field, instead choosing to work for CBS as an analyst and color commentator. Arians, an offensive-minded head coach who compiled a 49-30-1 record in six years with the Arizona Cardinals, is considered to be the immediate top candidate.

Arians told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he would be open to talking to the Bucs about their head-coaching vacancy due to his relationship with Licht.

Arians, who beat Tampa Bay in 2016 and ’17, has spoken fondly of quarterback Jameis Winston in the past, telling ESPN: “He would be fun to coach, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a winner and a great leader and obviously a heck of a young quarterback.”

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

“‘Jaboo’ is legend in Birmingham,” said Arians, whose son lived about 20 minutes outside of Winston’s hometown of Bessemer. “We had a little football camp back then in Birmingham, and he threw one day. We had a bunch of local kids there and one of his high school coaches was a good friend of mine, so we’ve known him and watched him grow and we’re very, very proud of him.”

Winston is coming off a tumultuous season that began with a three-game suspension and included being benched for three games. The team picked up the fifth-year option worth $20.92 million and has said that he will return as the team’s starting quarterback in 2019. Winston completed 244-of-376 passes (64.6 percent) for 2,992 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Arians has worked with notable quarterbacks, such as Peyton Manning (1998-2000) and Andrew Luck (2012) in two stops in Indianapolis, Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh (2007-11) and Carson Palmer in Arizona (2013-17).

Arians could reassemble his Cardinals staff in Tampa Bay as Todd Bowles, his former defensive coordinator, was fired as the head coach of the New York Jets on Monday. Arians had four winning seasons to start his run as Arizona’s head coach, including playoff berths in 2014 (11-5) and 2015 (13-3).

Harold Goodwin, who served as the Cardinals offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 2013-17, could serve in that same capacity in Tampa Bay. Licht interviewed Goodwin for the Bucs’ head coaching vacancy in 2016 to comply with the Rooney Rule before promoting Koetter to replace Lovie Smith.

Freddie Kitchens, who coached quarterbacks in Cleveland and replaced Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator this year, coached quarterbacks under Arians in Arizona, while Stump Mitchell was Arizona’s running backs coach from 2013-16 under Arians before following Bowles to New York in 2017.

Bucs DL coach Brentson Buckner
Bucs DL coach Brentson Buckner – Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner also served under Arians on his staff in Arizona.

Buccaneers linebacker Kevin Minter, a former Arizona second-round pick in 2013, played for Arians for three years and loved him as a head coach.

“If he comes here, get ready,” Minter said. “He’s a great coach, man. If he does get the job – or whatever job he gets – he’ll kick the guys into gear.”

“If he comes here, he’s going to make noise. He knows how to win, but who’s to say what’s going to happen? I know he’s pretty comfortable in retirement right now.”

Minter said there is a lot to like about Arians as a head coach.

“For one, his honesty,” Minter said. “He was always honest. He’d tell you straight up how he felt about how you played – good or bad – but you kind of respect a guy who tells you exactly how he feels. And also, how much this game really means to him. You can tell he’s passionate. I’m talking about everything. He was all about the little things that amount to big things in the future. Any organization that gets him is going to be lucky.”

That organization may be Tampa Bay.

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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TheBaron70

It doesn’t really matter who the coach is as long as Licht is the GM. With that said, I doubt Arians gives any more than a courtesy interview. He’s not going to let Licht ruin his reputation.

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BucRy

Only true if Licht does not allow Arians to have any say over who the team needs and don’t need, but I think Licht would listen to Arians so I could see it working.

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Pick6

Licht and Arians proved they are aligned on what makes a good player in Arizona. They drafted stud after stud on both sides of the ball and maximized talent. I think there are more than a few players we have not even come close to seeing the best out of. I think VH3 can be better than a borderline starter when free of the mike smith confidence killing scheme, and I bet there are things our OL and even guys like RoJo can do well that we have yet to see from them. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No… Read more »

Buc76

Is he healthy enough? That’s the question. This is the only reason to keep Licht. Bowles would follow and you would have 2 head coaches. This would be the best scenario the Bucs could hope for. DONT BLOW IT LICHT!!!

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Easythe great

Its soon to be year 5 and we are still “developing” a number 1 overall pick. It sad it what it is.

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BucRy

He’s still only 24, no matter how you look at it he is still developing as a person and a player.

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Alldaway 2.0

Happy New Year SR and PR staff!

I agree that this would be the best case scenario.

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Buc-Up

I wonder if the Galzers kept Licht around to take advantage of his relationship with Arians to try to land him. If so and he can’t close the deal, then maybe they turn around and fire him unless he lands another coach they love.

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Bucnut2

I hope you are right because in my mind, it’s the ONLY reason to keep Licht

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fbleichner

Get this done!!! I don’t give a shit how. Just get it done. If you want to save/redeem your faults as a GM, do this and you have a chance of us forgetting Aguayo, Rojo, Spence, etc. You have an inside advantage of knowing him. Get. It. Done. We need a no nonsense football beast like Arians. He’s a proven winner and no BS artist. Players and fans will love him!

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fbleichner

Also forgot to mention this could be a 2 for 1 hire because Bowles could be our next DC!!! Get it done!!!

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Buc-Up

To sweeten the deal they should give him an incentive that if he gets produces multiple winning seasons he can then transition into a front office position.

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Alldaway 2.0

Arians would be awesome because he would possibly make the Buc offense even better. o.O

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SCLOBERNOCKER

My question. Has Bowles ever fielded a 43 defense or would bring Arians and Bowles in mean an impending change to a 34? Not that we are far off from 34 talent wise, but it would be a waste of our new-found DE tandem of JPP and Nassib. McCoy and Vea would be fine. Whos your OLB?

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Phillip

Job 1: get arians
Job 2: retain monken
Job 3: hire bowles
Job 4: retain duffner as lb coach
Job 5: retain buckner
Job 6: let arians hire the rest.
Make it happen licht.

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Buc stops here

Good luck with that. There are reports around the NFL that Monken is up for other offensive coordinator jobs. (A) He has to want to return to the Bucs, we cannot assume he wants that. (B) The new coach wants him. More likely, but not guaranteed.

Only positive – he is under contract until February 2019. So they do have some time to convince him to stay if that is what they want.

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Phillip

Bowles has operated both 4-3 and 3-4.

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Alldaway 2.0

Good post. +1

Bowles is very flexible and creative defensively.

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Phillip

I wouldnt mind wilks being dc either. He had the panthers playing lights out 2 years ago.

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seat26

They are friends. This would be a natural fit. Arians is not a spring chicken, so he might not even be interested. But he would be an awesome addition.

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flashgordon

I don’t know what Arians health issues are; but, assuming those health issues are not really that much of a concern anymore, my issue is his memory recall at 66. Of course, Pete Carrol has bucked the trend, and maybe he’s using memory enhancing pills; but, i know they’re out there – There’s memory enhancing pills one could take that would make Bruce’s age a mute point in this day and age.

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flashgordon

Other than Bruce Arians, I’m hoping for Kris Richards or a surprise pick after Licht gets his intelligence reports from his firm he’s hired.

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Horse

Not my pay grade. I’m going to remain silent on this one.

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Buc stops here

I agree. I am just waiting to see what the Bucs do. Hoping for the best but with this franchise you never know what they are going to do. The fact they are using Korn-Ferry to help is not a bad thing, it is what helped get KC, Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia, and the Jaguars their head coaches. All of those teams have been in the playoffs the last two years. It might be coincidence but it is a good one.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

Lyle Sedelin Told my brother any team that got Arians Would be in shock the 10 bad asses on the team would think they died and gone to hell and love it the premodonas would call there agents to get them out of this team asap .

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BUC-ASS-BOB

You’re assuming that Aaron’s would want Winston if it didn’t want Winston Winston would be gone and no one would stop him

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cgmaster27

No assumptions at all actually as Arians IS a fan of Jameis. Hie words not mine. Nice try though.

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Buc stops here

You are right cgmaster. He has said it publicly on CBS sports multiple times. He likes what he has done in college and the NFL at the young age he is.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

If Glazers , Jason Licht, Dirk Koetter, say jameis Winston is worth 21 Million I know it has to be wrong. If Bruce Arians says he can make Jameis Winston worth 21 million I will be on board as I respect Bruce Arians and know he must have idea how to fix Jameis. Just cause he said as commentator on TV does not mean anything as commentators are suppose to be positive. Will he put his job on line for jameis ????? We will see, if he takes this job Licht and Glazers will not tell him what to do… Read more »

drdneast

Cgmaster27, did you really understand anything that BucAssBob said or tried to spell?

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cgmaster27

I dont try to understand him drd. Most of it is just garbled nonsense with no punctuation anyways.

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Rich

If what I read earlier is correct, Licht stating that keeping Winston is a requirement for the new coach, the the coaching pool just got smaller. Winston is a coach killer. 2018 Winston had 13 int and 5 lost fumbles, he started 8 games and played in 4 others. 18 turnovers in 12 games, it justifies his .388 winning %. What new coach is going to hitch his career to that. That turnover ratio is right in line with his 4 year turnover rate, 58 ints and 38 fumbles in 54 games. How long do you believe Bilichick would keep… Read more »

cgmaster27

Coaching pool just got smaller eh? please enlighten us to your sources? Licht says the opposite. If Jameis went to free agency ,he would be the first guy scooped up. Dont pretend otherwise. And for all the turnover chatter you speak of,which is a valid point his games since he was benched, 13tds and 4 picks. 2 of which were hail Mary’s and the other off mike Evan’s hands. I do love how the anti winston crowd pretends to know more than the rest of us and apparently the bucs organization. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Dude

I would imagine Belichick would coach it out of him. As would any coaches who has a strong desire to win and believes that turnovers cost W’s. Unfortunately for Jameis he’s only had one coach in the NFL. One who apparently did not pay enough attention to Winston’s discipline on the field with turnovers. The same one who just got canned for this inept attitude.

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JustaBuc

Downvote for 0 paragraph breaks!

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Captain Sly

Some of you Winston haters have to come up with the most creative ways to hate the guy. What are you going to do when we sign him to a multi year contract, which is going to happen by the way. You better hurry up and get on the bandwagon now, so you are not on the sideline looking like a fool when this takes off this year. The Bucs are moving on with or without you.

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scubog

Initially I was a bit cool on the potential hiring of Bruce Arians due to his age and possible health issues. I wondered if it would only be a short-term solution. (Typically the case here anyway) The more I thought about it, the more I warmed to the idea. The solution to my hesitation would be to have a succession plan already in place. Perhaps an Assistant Head Coach, somewhat “on deck”, to assume the reigns when the time comes for Arians to retire.

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last fan standing

How about someone like Kris Richards the Dallas pass game coordinator as DC/AHC?

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scubog

Don’t know much about him or any of the other candidates, but having a coach ready to step in is what I had in mind.

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surferdudes

The question was asked of Licht yesterday, why are you still here? We’ve all wondered that, and I think I have the answer. The Galzer’s statement on Licht said it all, Jason Licht will be conducting our coaching search. They didn’t say, we think he’s done a wonderful job, and are extending him past 2019, only he’ll be searching for a new H.C.. With seven other teams also looking for a coach firing Licht, and having to find a G.M. first would’ve put us behind the eight ball getting a coach. Makes some sense now, right? Licht will be looking… Read more »

inspecto

The Glazer MEN make a smart decision. This does make sense.

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drdneast

cgmaster27, had a good chuckle over your reply. I hate to bust anyone on punctuation and typos on a blog but gee whiz. For all of you “Oh we should have drafted Mariotta fans.” out there and hate Winston because we didn’t, I suggest you go to NFL.com and look at the QB stats. Playing in three less games, Winston passed for more yards and TD’s and had a QB rating of 90.2 while Mariotta’s was 92.3. This was playing behind one of the worst NFL offensive lines with very little running game and I mean no disrespect to Peyton… Read more »