Just hours after firing Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that personal relationships wouldn’t matter in his search to find Tampa Bay’s next head coach.

“Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right fit for the organization,” Licht said on Monday, following the Bucs’ 34-32 loss to the Falcons that gave Tampa Bay back-to-back 5-11 seasons. “Throw the ego aside, it’s what is best for this organization, best for ownership, best for these players, best for the staff. Just the best fit, period. Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean they would be the right fit.”

The right fit for Tampa Bay is former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, a guy that Licht just happens to have a personal relationship with.

Licht knew from the start of the head coaching search process that Arians would be the right fit because he knew Arians from their year together in Arizona in 2013 when the Cardinals went 10-6 and just missed the playoffs. That’s when their personal relationship began.

Yes, Licht interviewed Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Minnesota defensive coordinator George Edwards and Dallas defensive backs coach Kris Richard, but Arians was the guy all along. Not necessarily because of the personal relationship Licht had with Arians, but simply because Arians is the right fit.

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The interviews with Bieniemy, Edwards and Richard weren’t to satisfy the league’s Rooney Rule requirement that says that a team must interview a minority candidate before hiring a white head coach. Licht wanted to do his due diligence and legitimately compare and contrast Bieniemy, Edwards and Richard to the familiar Arians.

If any of those coaching candidates had proven to be better than Arians I believe that Licht would have pulled the trigger and hired one of them. But through his personal relationship with Arians, Licht knows he is the right coach at the right time for a talented Buccaneers team that needs to win now more than ever.

It was in 2013, Arians’ first year as Arizona’s head coach, that Licht witnessed Arians’ “No risk it, no biscuit” mentality for the first time. The Bucs desperately need the confidence, daring and accountability that Arians will bring. The 66-year old Arians comes to Tampa Bay with two-time NFL Head Coach of the Year credentials for his work in Indianapolis (2012) and Arizona (2015), as well as a pair of Super Bowl rings that he won under Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin as an assistant in Pittsburgh.

Jameis Winston, the guy this team so desperately wants to be a franchise quarterback, desperately needs Arians’ tutelage. Arians has helped develop some of the best quarterbacks in the game in Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Arizona’s Carson Palmer.

The Bucs defense, which has been pushed around too much and scored on too often desperately needs Todd Bowles’ aggressive scheme. NFC South quarterbacks Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees will hate the myriad of blitzes they will face from the Bucs’ revamped 3-4 defense this fall.

And Licht, who was granted one more year to preside over the team by the Glazers despite his 27-53 record as general manager, desperately needs Arians, too.

If he hired an unfamiliar head coach and the Bucs didn’t show much improvement in 2019, Licht would be looking for a new job this time next year. But with Arians, he has a bit more job security, as Bucco Bruce will surely want the familiar Licht to stick around for the long haul and help pick the right players throughout his tenure in Tampa Bay.

Call it self-serving if you want, but Licht made the right hire given the immediate needs of this franchise despite how it helps his job security. There’s no doubt about that.

Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians
Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

On paper, Arians looks like the right fit for Licht, for the Bucs defense, for Winston, for Tampa Bay’s offense – which can’t afford to miss a beat in the NFC South Shootout division – and for the Glazers, who need to put more butts in the stands.

No, fans don’t show up to see coaches coach. They show up to see players play.

But Tampa Bay fans loved the Jon Gruden era and the swag that Chucky coached with. Arians has a similar, bad ass coaching style – dropping F-bombs, chewing up refs and spitting them out, and demanding the best from his players, all while piling up wins. Bucs fans are craving for respectability and winning to return.

Licht has worked with Arians before and there is no doubt that the two men will work well together in Tampa Bay. Leadership starts at the top, and it’s important for a general manager and a head coach to have a strong personal relationship. Because Licht and Arians already have that from their time together in Arizona, they can hit the ground running together in 2019 and get this ship turned around ASAP and chart a course towards winning waters.

Everyone knows that the Glazers have a quick trigger finger when it comes to firing head coaches. The Glazers have hired and fired four head coaches in the last decade alone. Because of their commitment to winning, I can’t blame them, and I applaud the Glazers for refusing to settle for mediocrity – or worse.

Not only are the Glazers tired of losing, they are tired of seeing other first-year head coaches around the NFL take their new teams to the playoffs while the Bucs remain the cellar dwellers of the NFC South. Arians will be under the gun to win right away, but after watching Bruce Arians: A Football Life, it’s clear that he isn’t afraid of getting fired.

Arians is a fearless coach that needs to inject some fearlessness into the Buccaneers and dare them to be great. Arians will quickly earn the players’ trust by developing a personal relationship with them and have Tampa Bay contending for the NFC South title in no time.

Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I think I said this last time, too, that I’m not going to get in the way and let an ego get in the way of getting the right guy here,” Licht said. “My job, right now, is to get the best fit of a head football coach, period.”

Despite his personal relationship – or perhaps because of it – Licht did just that when he hired Arians, and he will prove to be up to the task after recharging his batteries from a one-year retirement during the 2018 season.

It just feels like the right fit.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]

19 COMMENTS

  1. Great hire, good day to be a bucs fan. Please don’t bring in Bowles and his 3-4 though

    Licht better go heavy on the secondary and O-line in FA&draft.

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    • Nuts, maybe they just needed coaching.

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  2. The last 4 coaches all seem to have a ” try not to lose” mentality. Bruce Arians definitely has a go for the win mentality. You won’t see him punting on 4th and one from the 50. Or settling for a field goal on the one-yard line. He is definitely a damn the torpedoes Full Speed Ahead kind of guy. About time!

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    • No risk it. No biscuit.

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  3. So Excited!!!! Welcome Bruce Arians!!! GO BUCS!!!

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  4. Why are all my comments “awaiting moderation”??

    I’m one of the more level-headed rational posters out there.

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  5. Well, I was wrong. Despite my countless posts about keeping Koetter this fall, I was thoroughly wrong.
    I’ve never been happier to eat crow.
    Can’t wait to see who our new head coach hires for his staff.
    Bucs are in the playoffs next season. Count on it.

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    • I was right there with you about the need for continuity. I’m very happily wrong too. I think Arians is great hire. Go Bucs!

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  6. We will see if it comes to pass or not. We will see if the Bucs are as talented as Licht, The PewterReport, and Arians believe. The results will be known by this time next year. Either the Bucs will change or they won’t. Just 12 months to go to find out if this is real change or not. Always hoping for success, hope it finally happens for this franchise.

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  7. Fire them cannons. Go Bucs! Arians will bring legit coaching staff to Tampa.

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  8. I am more excited for the assistants than the head coach. I hope i am wrong.

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  9. Scott, I am certainly not against the hiring Arians as head coach, but if you think the Bucs can instantly transform into an effective 5-4 defense with their current personnel, you have blinders on.
    If the Bucs go to a 3-4 it will render their two top DL useless.
    Both JPP and Carl Nassib are built for and play the 4-3 scheme.

    The Browns tried to get Nassib to play in the 3-4 with mixed results. That was why the Browns waived him.
    JPP has neveer played in a 3-4 scheme.
    Both are two large to be effective as OLB’s
    Not only that, but Lavontae David and Kwon Alenander really aren’t stout enough to play the ILB position.

    They will have the same trouble playing ILB as Mason Fpster had playing MLB.

    Foster was just a tad to slow and big to play the MLB position in the 4-3 but in a 3-4, which is what he plays in Washington, he is much more of an effective LB.

    That was the moronic Dummynick trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

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    • Don’t forget Beckwith. Big thumper.

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  10. Bowles uses a hybrid D.

    Bucs defense is excitign again.

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  11. artpac, you are not wrong about being excited about who the assistant coaches are going to be.
    Great asst. coaches can make or break a football team, just ask Tony Dungy.
    Dungy put together a great coaching staff with many of his coaches going on to become head coaches in the NFL. Of course they were all on the defensive side of the ball.
    It was probably Koetter’s biggest failure was in who he hired as asst. coaches, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
    Of course he probably left that job to Mike Smith and we all know what happened to him.

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  12. I think the fix has been in hiring B.A. for quite some time now. Probably since late October. It’s the only logical reason Licht, with a record worse then Dom wasn’t fired along with Koetter. Scott, don’t even try to make us believe Licht interviewed anyone else in good faith. He did so to satisfy, but really made a sham of the Rooney rule. Licht stuck the knife in Lovies back, now has done the same with Koetter. He sold the Glazers on Arians a long time agoto save himself, sold his soul in the process. You reap what you sow, Arians better watch his back too. Hopefully this all works out for the organization, and it’s long suffering fans. I’m not as sold as others that this team is built to win right now as Reynolds seems to think. I think it’s going to take a lot of addition, and subtraction my hope being Arians has a better grasp of what that might take. I have no faith in Licht, to know a guard, from a tackle.

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    • Agree Surferdudes!! Vince Lombardi can’t make a QB not throw Ints or make FGs go through the uprights.NYG dumped JPP because of 3-4.I However am glad we are getting out of the stagnant 4-3. Every year the best pass rushers in the draft are “edge” rushing LB’s . Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and Khalil Mack were all LB’s . Different blitz packages n different looks is about all I’m excited to see. Yet we don’t have the talent to do so.

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  13. You don’t need to interview THREE minority candidates to satisfy the Rooney Rule. I think they interviewed legitimate candidates or they would have only talked to one of the three and moved on to signing Arians

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  14. Arians fits like a glove!

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