Well, there ya have it.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Bruce Arians, the former Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals head coach.
It’s very rare when the overall majority of a fanbase and the front office/ownership of a franchise all agree on a candidate. As we all know, NFL coaching searches can be fickle, misleading, and downright tiresome. With all of the wants, needs, opinions, numbers, etc. - it’s easy to see why so many franchises miss when they go to look for a new leader.
But the stars have aligned in the early stages of 2019, and the result is the biggest head coaching hire in nearly 20 years.
That’s right. The magnitude of this hire rivals the trade for Jon Gruden before the 2002 season. Just like Gruden, Arians is expected to be the spark the franchise needs to take them to the next level. Granted, Tampa Bay was a perennial playoff contender compared to today’s perennial loser when Gruden was brought in, but that’s why Arians was the popular choice - he is believed to be the one who can right the ship.
How good of a head coach is this man? How about two Coach of the Year trophies? How ‘bout a 61% winning record for his career?
It seems to safe to say that the Bucs got themselves a good one.
First and foremost, he is considered to be the savior for Jameis Winston. Arians and Winston have a long history and the new Bucs’ head coach has been on record saying that he would love to work with the young quarterback.
The two seem like a perfect fit and based off Arians’ track record, you can’t help but be excited when you see who he’s worked with over the years
Arians was the reason for Ben Roethlisberger’s development, Andrew Luck’s seamless transition to the NFL, and the reason Carson Palmer lasted five more years in the league. His reputation developing quarterbacks speaks for itself.
If he can fix Winston, then he can fix the Bucs. There’s no reason to think otherwise. Tampa Bay has had one of the premier offenses in the league over the past two seasons. Outside of the need to upgrade the offensive line, they are average to great at every position on that side of the ball. All the unit needs is consistency and better decision-making from Winston and they’re In Like Flint.
Have also been told that Bruce Arians thought past coaching staff was “ruining Jameis”— JC Cornell (@TheJCCornell) January 8, 2019
Outside of his experience with quarterbacks, Arians’ offenses have had major success as well. His offenses in Pittsburgh ranked outside of the top-10 in DVOA just once in five seasons, per Football Outsiders.
One could argue that he’s never had this much talent on offense. Antonio Brown was just drafted when Arians left Pittsburgh. The Colts had Luck, but that was about it. The Cardinals had Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and David Johnson. That trio led the Cardinals to a 13-3 record and a NFC Championship appearance in 2015. They were second in the NFL in points and were fourth in the league in DVOA.
Point is, there’s a possibility that this could be the most talented offense that Arians has ever coached.
While the Bucs may not have a running back like Johnson, they certainly have a receiver with Fitzgerald’s talent in Mike Evans and a quarterback in Winston that is now a veteran, a la Palmer.
What Arians didn’t have that year was a Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, or even an Ali Marpet. If you expect this offense to take a step back in 2019, think again.
But all of his accolades and accomplishments aside, Arians will bring immediate respect and a true sense of leadership to the locker room. There will be a sense of camaraderie, a sense of accountability, and a sense of what it means to lead a team of men instilled at One Buc Place.
Sure, Arians comes with some concerns - his health being the top one. That is a big concern, as we’ve seen with him, Gary Kubiak, and even Urban Meyer - it doesn’t take much for a coach to step down due to health concerns. But at the same time, Tampa Bay is a franchise that is desperate need of change and those concerns fall to the wayside in the grand scheme of things. Especially if Arians wants to coach.
The Bucs had some concerns about Bruce Arians’ health — enough to require a physical — but that hurdle has been cleared, per sources. There’s also been a hangup with the language in his Arizona contract that has caused a delay. But again... it’s all moving toward finality.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 8, 2019
He also never established a running game in Arizona outside of the 2015 season. Even when Johnson went nuts in 2016, the Cardinals were still just 18th overall running the ball.
That could be an issue considering the fact Winston needs a running game to rely on if he wants to reach his true potential. Combine that fact with Tampa Bay’s putrid offensive line and there is a recipe for trouble there.
Only time will tell the true magnitude of this hiring. If everything goes as planned then Tampa Bay could be in the playoffs as early as 2020. If nothing goes as planned, then the team will be stuck in the same cycle it has been in for the past decade.
What do they have to lose? Only their jobs.
But if general manager Jason Licht and the Glazers can’t turn this franchise around with his hire, the odds are that nothing can. While that is a stark message, there is truth lurking just beneath the surface.
Hopefully Arians and his future staff can keep that truth buried.