Just one season removed from a Super Bowl victory, Bruce Arians informed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday that he is stepping aside as their coach. The team moved quickly to replace him, promoting Todd Bowles from defensive coordinator.
“The simple answer is that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could during this incredible coaching journey,” Arians said in a statement released by the team. “Winning Super Bowl LV at our home stadium, with my mom and family in attendance, was really the last item I wanted to check off my career bucket list. For me, this is about more than just trying to add more wins to my coaching record.”
Bowles becomes the second Black head coach hired leaguewide during this cycle, along with the Houston Texans’ Lovie Smith. The Miami Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, who is multiracial. The Buccaneers became the 10th team to name a new coach this offseason.
Bowles’s promotion gives the NFL three active Black head coaches, along with Smith and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin.
The NFL is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores against the league and its teams. The league has denied Flores’s allegations, but Commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL leaders have vowed to explore all options to address the league’s minority hiring issues. The NFL announced several diversity measures Monday, including a new requirement that all teams have a minority assistant coach in a significant role on the offensive staff.
Bowles will get his second NFL head coaching opportunity. He coached the New York Jets to a 24-40 record over four seasons between 2015 and 2018. He also was the interim head coach of the Dolphins in 2011.
“Tampa has become home for my family, and we are excited to remain part of this community for years to come,” Bowles said in a statement. “As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years. I am eager to get started with our players, coaching staff, and front office in preparation for the 2022 season.”
The Buccaneers, attempting to repeat as Super Bowl champions, lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs in January. They have had an eventful offseason, with quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement and then reversing course less than six weeks later and declaring that he would return to the Buccaneers for another season.
Arians said the team “is in a much better place than it was three years ago” and added: “Before you start thinking this is about my health, don’t. This is the best I have felt in many years and I’m looking forward to helping this team continue winning through my new role.”
He said he began conversations with General Manager Jason Licht and members of the Glazer family, who own the franchise, several weeks ago. His announcement came one day after the end of the annual league meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.
“I really began thinking about my personal transition plan earlier this offseason,” Arians said. “I wanted to ensure when I walked away that Todd Bowles would have the best opportunity to succeed. So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn’t want that for Todd. Tom’s decision to come back, along with Jason and his staff doing another great job of keeping the core of this team intact during free agency, confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd. I began conversations with Jason and the Glazer family a few weeks ago about a possible succession plan. Their understanding and support mean the world to me.”
Arians is a two-time NFL coach of the year, having won the award with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and the Arizona Cardinals in 2014. He spent the past three seasons with the Buccaneers.
“I consider Bruce a dear friend and loved working side-by-side with him in a head coach-general manager capacity,” Licht said in a statement. “I am really proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Bruce established a culture here that set the foundation for a Super Bowl championship. In my opinion, he is a Hall of Fame coach, so it is difficult for our football team to lose that type of leader. However, I am excited to have him continuing his contributions to our franchise in his new capacity.”
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