When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired head coach Bruce Arians, he was introduced as the coolest head coach in the league. But he wasn’t hired to be cool. He was hired to win.
And while the look, the words and the head gear all fit the persona we all admired and expected when he landed in Florida, it was his approach to the game and his leadership which really sparks success wherever he goes.
Once in his head coaching career, Arians has finished with a sub-.500 record. Even in that one season, in 2016, his Arizona Cardinals finished with eight losses. Their one tie of the year is what led to more losses than wins.
There haven’t been many seasons between that one and this one, but it was the last time the Cardinals game ended with a tie. Until this year. Coincidentally this year, the Buccaneers also have the unfortunate opportunity to repeat a 2016 phenomena, and get Arians his second sub-.500 record.
But this comparison dating back to 2016 doesn’t do Arians’ coaching resume justice. Before 2016, no team with Arians on staff had eight losses or more since the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers, who had eight. No team with Arians involved in it had a losing record since the 2003 Cleveland Browns.
So, it’s not just that Arians hasn’t had nine losses as a head coach. It’s the fact he hasn’t had a losing season since 2003. To put that into perspective, in 2003 I was just three years into a military career I’m about to retire from.
Need some more perspective? Arians has been involved in a nine loss season just once...since the AFC and NFC Central were eliminated by the creation of North and South Divisions.
The man has a long history of winning, is what we’re getting at here. And while this team has been different from probably any other he’s ever coached, he’s made this team one which is capable of winning.
We can get into the weeds of why the team losses, or why they’ve lost certain games, but the bottom line is: This team knows how to win. And that is not a statement people watching the Bucs have been able to say for quite a while.
Now, this team still knows how to lose. Old habits die hard, or so they say. While Arians and his staff have done a good job of showing this very young team what it’s like to win, and win convincingly, it’s still a team who knows how to give up leads and fall behind without coming back.
The next step in the development of this latest Arians reclamation project is getting this roster to develop an allergy to losing. We’ll have to wait for next year to see if they can get there.
For now though, they have Week 17 ahead of them. Against a team they know well. Against a beatable opponent. With a coach who is not accustomed to losing.
It’s time for the Arians attitude, swagger, whatever you want to call it. It’s time for it to shine through his players, and for his players to go out there and make it *16 seaons since their head coach has walked out of the final game, a loser.
*Bruce Arians didn’t coach in 2018