In a shocking move on Wednesday night, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians stepped down and named Todd Bowles as Tampa Bay’s head coach. Arians, who will turn 70 in October, will move into a position in the Bucs front office. His new title will be “senior consultant for football.”
NBC Sports’ Peter King broke the news.
“Succession has always been huge for me,” Arians told King. “With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, with Tom Brady coming back … I’d rather see Todd in 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.”
The 58-year old Bowles, who is the league’s highest-paid defensive coordinator, previously coached the New York Jets from 2015-18. He posted a 24-40 record in his only full-time head-coaching job. Bowles becomes the fourth Black head coach in Bucs history. Pewter Report has previously reported that Bowles would be in line to succeed Arians should he retire.
Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs had hired more minority head coaches than any other NFL team before promoting Bowles. Now Tampa Bay is way out in front as the league’s most progressive organization.
Bowles is the sixth minority head coach in the NFL right now, joining Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Washington’s Ron Rivera, New York Jets’ Robert Saleh, Miami’s Mike McDaniel and Houston’s Lovie Smith.
Arians, who left the NFL Annual Meeting early on Monday morning and didn’t make any media appearances, further explained his reasoning to step away.
“It hit me after the Super Bowl,” Arians said. “I thought really hard about going out on top. Then it was like, nah, let’s go for two. [The 2021 season] was a grind with all the injuries but still winning and getting to where we got. Immediately after, two to three weeks afterwards [I thought] … if I quit, my coaches get fired. I couldn’t do it then.
“Tom was kind of the key. 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.”
Arians was 49-31 as a head coach in Tampa Bay. His .633 winning percentage was the highest in team history. He’s the third most-winningest coach in Bucs history behind Jon Gruden (57) and Tony Dungy (54).
Arians had a franchise-best 6-1 record in the postseason, including winning Super Bowl LV in 2020. He also guided the Bucs to their best winning record, going 13-4 in the 2021 regular season.
“I don’t really feel like I’m stepping away,” Bruce said. “I’m not retiring. I’m just moving to the other side of the building. I’ll be at practices. I’ll be in the office. Whatever they need me to do.”
The Bucs will be holding a news conference with Bowles at 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, announcing him as the team’s 13th head coach.