Back in March, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles got his second chance. With his mentor, Bruce Arians, stepping into a front office role and handing him the keys to a ready-made Super Bowl contender, Bowles has a fresh opportunity to succeed as a head coach in the NFL.

Of course, Bowles’ first chance to lead a team was ultimately unsuccessful. After being named the AP’s Assistant Coach of the Year following the 2014 season, he left the Cardinals to become the head coach of the New York Jets. A 10-6 record in his debut season showed promise, but it all went downhill from there. His Jets went 5-11, 5-11 and 4-12 in the next three years. That left him with a 24-40 record in four seasons as the team’s head coach. Despite having signed him to a contract extension, New York fired him following the 2018 season.

Luckily, everything lined up perfectly for Bowles from there. His availability is part of the reason Arians came out of retirement. Though he was enticed by the chance to lead Tampa Bay, Arians wanted his whole coaching staff to come with him. And as fate would have it, that all came to fruition. Bowles became the Bucs defensive coordinator before the 2019 season, and by the end of the following season, he was a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator. His defensive game plan against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs was the catalyst behind the Bucs earning their second-ever Lombardi Trophy. Soon after the Bucs made him the league’s highest-paid defensive coordinator.

After a 2021 season in which his defense faced injury after injury and still managed to finish as the fifth-best scoring defense in the league, Bowles has another chance. Arians went out on top – in his own way. That left Bowles in an ideal situation, and now he has to take advantage of it.

Can Bowles’ Tenure With Jets Really Tell Us Anything About Him As A Head Coach?

Arians’ plan was always succession. When Tom Brady retired in February, Arians planned to keep coaching. He didn’t want to hand the team off to Bowles when it was in need of a rebuild with a new quarterback. But once Brady announced his return, everything worked out. Arians made his decision, transitioned into the front office and gave Bowles another chance to be an NFL head coach. Former Jets executive Mike Tannenbaum actually thinks Bowles can be an upgrade over Arians.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles – Photo by: USA Today

But what kind of head coach will Bowles be this time around? Can we take anything away from the 58-year-old’s tenure in New York? Pro Football Focus recently gave it a shot, taking Bowles’ time with the Jets and using it to rank him in the bottom tier of NFL head coaches. Through an analytical model, PFF placed him in the fourth tier, marked “Room for Improvement.”

But is that fair? If you’re qualifying that ranking by strictly saying: “This was the level of head coach he was with the Jets,” then that’s fine. However, his time in New York may not be a true measure of what type of head coach he’ll be in 2022 and beyond.

“Bowles has been one of the best defensive minds in football, and his results as a head coach back that up,” Conor McQuiston wrote. “Unfortunately, his teams as a head coach have struggled immensely on offense.”

That’s true. Bowles is a defensive mastermind. He has led great defenses in Arizona, New York and Tampa Bay. But he’s being knocked here for his New York teams struggling offensively. Is that fair?

As Of Now, It’s Tough To Get A Valid Read On Bowles As A Head Coach

This is where it’s important to acknowledge the level of offenses that Bowles dealt with during his time with the Jets. In that 10-6 season, he had Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way. New York ultimately missed out on the playoffs, but a 10-win season is nothing to scoff at.

In 2016, the Jets had Fitzpatrick start 11 games, with Bryce Petty starting four and Geno Smith starting another. That’s not exactly a recipe for good offensive play. The following year, Bowles had Josh McCown for 13 games and Petty for another three. And in his final season, Bowles had McCown for three games and rookie Sam Darnold for 13.

Bucs QB Ton Brady and HC Todd Bowles

Bucs QB Ton Brady and HC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Going through quarterbacks like that doesn’t give much stability to draw any conclusions from. It’s easy to see that the Jets’ offensive situation wasn’t favorable. So, it’s perhaps a bit harsh to judge what type of head coach Bowles is based on that.

Of course, his debut season as the Bucs head coach won’t give us a fair look either, will it? It’s now gone to the opposite extreme for Bowles. He has Tom Brady and a stacked offense to work with. We’ll get more of a measure down the line, once the Brady era is over and a new quarterback comes in and leads the way.

None of this is to say that Bowles is a great head coach. The point isn’t even that he’s a good head coach. It’s more that, really, we don’t know what type of head coach he’ll be in 2022. He certainly learned what went wrong in New York and will perhaps do some things differently this time. And when you consider the “it’s the Jets” factor, perhaps his ranking in PFF’s tier list is out of date. We’ll find out this year.

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About the Author: Bailey Adams

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compewterpirate
compewterpirate
6 days ago

This is clearly a much more rational assessment, than the eulogistic tripe emanating from Mike Tannenbaum. The bottom-line is we don’t know what kind of a head coach Todd Bowles will be this time around, it is entirely open to speculation, but we will certainly find out. Bill Belichick was a pretty damned ordinary head coach in Cleveland and in New England also, until a certain TB12 turned up. BA, BL and TB, weren’t exactly ‘tearing up trees’ in their first season in Tampa, until the advent of the same TB12! Suddenly you look like a genius with the GOAT… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  compewterpirate
6 days ago

Well, except that Mike Tannenbaum is a proven NFL exec who knows far more about NFL football than the author of this media post or any commenter here. So his opinion is the opposite of “eulogistic tripe”. The tripe is yours.

compewterpirate
compewterpirate
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 days ago

Mike Tannenbaum may well be a former NFL exec, however it neither makes his opinions infallible, nor indeed unbiased. In this particular case, his ‘opinion’ of Bowles as a head coach is just that, an ‘opinion’, one moreover which happens to be at variance with verifiable statistics, specifically his win/loss record as a head coach (including in comparison with Bruce Arians).

twspin
twspin
6 days ago

One thing for deeyham skippy here Bailey, We are going to find real quick what kind of coach Bowles truly is. Our seasons starts out tough. And we need to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Sure, the team is missing a couple of pieces. But so are 31 other teams. As long as Todd completely leaves the Offense alone and concentrates his efforts on the team and Defense, we should do just fine.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
5 days ago

To me a coaches W-L record is not always indicative of overall ability as head coach. His ability to handle adversity ie; injuries, suspensions, tough losses speak more who he is as a coach. We were all carrying sticks because Dirk could beat Saints while BA with Brady couldn’t. 2022’ will bring its own set of challenges and how Bowles handles them will tell all we need to know about who he is as a coach.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Captain Sly
5 days ago

You make an excellent point here Captain. As you wisely noted; the W-L record is generally the ultimate indicator, but it’s not the end-all. In my view, the real test of a HC and his staff is how they are able to handle things when the $hit goes bad, as it did last season with the “off the street boys” secondary. I have a saying, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm”. It’s what the “captain” does when waves are crashing over the deck that is the real measure of leadership. I’m sure Bowles learned a lot… Read more »

fredster
fredster
5 days ago

The Jets had no franchise QB so they were doomed no matter who the coach was imo. Everyone loves to blame Winston and Koetter but if we don’t end up drafting Wirfs, White, and several others we don’t win that Super Bowl. Brady and Arians get all the credit which isn’t right either. Sure they were huge part especially Brady, but The O line was not good or “elite” prior to Arians and Brady’s arrival. It’s all speculation at this point On Bowles. We will have to see how he manages the game, if the offense is more run heavy… Read more »

plopes808
plopes808
4 days ago

It’s really hard to use his Jets tenure against him because well…it’s the Jets. He’s now been placed in a near perfect situation with a roster ready to compete in the Super Bowl. This year will tell more about his abilities as a HC than his time in New York with a trash roster ever did.