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What would Bruce Arians bring to the Bucs?

Fans would recognize some similarities, but welcome some differences

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The search is on for a new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For weeks, just about everyone had been speculating and chiming in on the job security of Dirk Koetter. After official word he had been let go by the organization, we’ve been told Jason Licht will be leading the search for a new sideline leader with the aid of the Korn-Ferry Firm.

Conversations about who could be hired to replace Koetter have already been going on, and now they’re about to peak.

News about former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians being willing to hear out the Bucs has only helped to increase the pace of the conversation.

Bucs Nation’s own Evan Winter supports the idea of hiring Arians and has even gone on record writing,

“I’ll paint my body in pewter and red if (the Bucs hire Bruce Arians)”

If you didn’t want this to happen before, you definitely should now.

But what would it mean? Both coach Koetter and Arians run an Air Coryell style of offense predicated on deep passes and power running. So, would the team really look any different on offense?

Well, yes and no. Which are both good answers. However, there’s also a down side to both as well.

Here are some similarities and some differences Bucs fans might witness if our hopes and dreams are realized. Don’t worry, it starts a little down, but gets better at the end.



Here, on third-and-five against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Week 6 of the 2015 NFL Season, the Cardinals are nearing field goal range and a new set of downs here would go a long way to putting points on the board.

Arizona comes out in shotgun with five receivers split wide. Good formation for spreading the defense thin and opening space for receivers to roam free. Which is exactly what happens.

From the far left side of the offensive formation (following motion), Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has a wide open receiver come free and clear at the first down marker for an easy conversion and brand new collection of downs.

But he doesn’t throw it there. Why? Well, because this offensive scheme is predicated on the deep ball, remember? So, instead, Palmer sees a receiver running down the seam with inside position on the defender and thinks he can fit it in before the deep safety makes it over.

He’s wrong, and the Cardinals would punt. Arizona would go on to lose this contest 25-13 in what would become Arians’ best year as the team’s head coach. This conversion doesn’t guarantee victory of course, but it was a big missed opportunity in the front half of the season.


Remember the time Jameis Winston was sacked because the offensive line didn’t hold up long enough for long-developing routes to actually develop leaving Winston no receivers to throw to as the pocket collapsed around him?

Yeah, so does Carson Palmer.

This play, again a third down, shows the Cardinals running just three receivers downfield while leaving the rest in for protection. Which makes sense.

Problem is, the protection doesn’t hold up, and the extra personnel staying in to give Palmer the time needed to wait for a receiver are ineffective at best.

Arizona came in to this play needing seven yards. The shortest route on the play broke at twelve.

The Cardinals lost seven on the play and punted to the 2016 Seattle Seahawks en route to a Week 7 tie.



Obviously the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have scored touchdown’s in the red zone, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit the lack of scoring inside the opponent’s 20-yard line is a contributing factor to why coach Koetter isn’t around any more.

And I’m not saying the Arizona Cardinals scored at a 100% rate in the red zone under Arians either. But, this play is encouraging if the Bucs land the flat cap wearing dynamo.

This play has everything. Motion, creativity, use of individual skill sets and the left tackle even almost messes the whole thing up!

It’s great, and can’t you just see Adam Humphries running this play for a Bucs touchdown in 2019? I sure can.

Under Koetter and Monken this season, the Bucs got better in red zone scoring. After getting into the end zone just 49% of the time in 2017, they earned six points on 60% of their trips in 2018.

The team regressed in the second half of the season however, considering the team scored touchdowns on 63% of their trips in the first eight games.


I was personally very excited to see this. I can’t count how many times I’ve begged and pleaded to see Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, or Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers, or Doug Martin and Charles Sims, or any two running back set line up with the quarterback in the backfield.

Never happened. If it did, it was such a rare gem my subconscious won’t allow me to recall it.

Here, Arians has his Cardinals offense lined up in this exact formation. And making things even better, he puts David Johnson in motion to take advantage of a defense who lined up to play against two running backs and suddenly has to face three receivers with a wheel running back coming out of the backfield.

It’s an easy read. If the linebacker drops deep to cover the player split left, then dump it off to the leaking running back. If he stays close (which he does here), then hit the out route with no defender underneath.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2018 season averaging 415.5 yards per game (3rd in the NFL) but 12th in the league in scoring with 24.8 points per game.

Tampa Bay represents the only team in the Top-5 among league leaders in yards per game to not make the post-season. The only post-season teams scoring fewer points per game than the Bucs are the Baltimore Ravens (24.3 points ppg) and Philadelphia Eagles (22.9 ppg).

Similarities between Arians and Koetter should help to ensure the offense’s ability to move the ball remains intact.

Arians’ west coast wrinkles sprinkled in to his Coryell style of offense should bring a new level of creativity and versatility to a very talented roster.

Fixing the defense? Well, a lot will be told there by the coordinator hired in Tampa. We don’t know who that person is just yet, but you can be sure we’ll look into that aspect of this once we do.

For now, we’ll all have to wait and see what Jason Licht and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do next and think about what might be.