Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is in the process of becoming the next head coach of the Jaguars. That could prompt a bidding war between Tampa Bay and Jacksonville over Bucs wide receivers coach Kevin Garver.
There is talk that Garver could go with Leftwich to become his offensive coordinator, and the Bucs would also be interested in promoting him to that role in Tampa Bay.
Technically, it would be the passing game coordinator in Tampa Bay. Harold Goodwin serves as the Bucs assistant head coach and the team’s run game coordinator.
“I’ve been with him for so long now, just watching him grow and grow,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Garver. “He called half of a game this preseason [at Houston] and did a heck of a job. He’s got a total grasp of this offense in every phase – quarterback play, line play, running back and receiver. He’s got a full grasp of it and he’s more than ready.”
However, due to Garver’s inexperience as a play-caller, Arians is expected to resume play-calling duties this year in Tampa Bay. Arians called plays as the head coach in Arizona from 2013-17 until he retired for the 2018 season. Leftwich would likely call plays for the Jaguars for the same reason.
Bucs OC Byron Leftwich, head coach Bruce Arians and WRs coach Kevin Garver – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The 69-year old Arians also called plays as the offensive coordinator in Cleveland (2001-03), Pittsburgh (2007-11) and in Indianapolis (2012). Arians has 14 years of play-calling experience at the NFL level.
The 34-year old Garver began his coaching career at Alabama as a student assistant (2007-09) and a graduate assistant (2010-11) under Nick Saban before being promoted to an offensive analyst in 2012. Garver joined Arians’ coaching staff as an offensive quality control coach in 2013. He served in that capacity until being promoted to an offensive assistant in 2016. Then he became the Cardinals assistant receivers coach the following season.
After Arians retired in 2018, Garver stayed on with new Arizona head coach Steve Wilks and was promoted to wide receivers coach. When Arians came out of retirement in 2019, Garver followed him to Tampa Bay where he has coached receivers for the past three seasons.
Lewis Likely To Be Promoted To WRs Coach
If Garver stays in Tampa Bay to take on the responsibilities of putting together the game plan with Arians, assistant wide receivers coach Thaddeus Lewis is expected to replace him and take over the receivers room. Should Garver leave the Bucs, Lewis could be promoted to the role of passing game coordinator
The 34-year old Lewis, a former NFL backup quarterback from 2010-17, was a coaching intern in the summer of 2020 during training camp. He made a strong enough impression that he stayed on as an offensive assistant.
Arians promoted him to the role of assistant receivers coach in 2021. He thinks Lewis has a bright future as a play-caller in the league, too.
Bucs WR Breshad Perriman and assistant WRs coach Thad Lewis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Arians said. “He’s got a lot of Byron in him. He is a former quarterback and he’s extremely bright. Last year I used to make him give me game plans. What would his game plan be? It would be spot on every week. There will be a time very, very soon where he’s calling plays in this league.”
Arians is a big believer in promoting from within. That’s a practice he learned from former Alabama legend Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“You always want to see your guys get jobs, man,” Arians said. “That’s huge for me. We’ve got a bunch of young guys that we’ve been training for a long time to maybe step in their place. It’s not that where we’re bringing in a bunch of outsiders.”