The Buccaneers are 5-6 and while they are still in the division lead, they are hanging on by a thread to lead the worst division in football this season. The man at the helm for Tampa Bay is Todd Bowles who was promoted to head coach after Bruce Arians retired in the offseason. Bowles is a great defensive coordinator, but it is starting to become clear that he may just be that.
I don’t know if Todd Bowles needs to be fired. That isn’t what this piece is about, and there is still six games left in a season where a lot can happen, but Bowles deserves to at least be on the hot seat. Since Tom Brady came to town, the Bucs were 24-9 in the regular season during his first two seasons. Now in Bowles’ first year as head coach the Bucs already have six losses and it isn’t likely that they go undefeated the rest of the season, so that number will likely be even higher.
Are the 2022 Buccaneers as talented as the teams of the past two years? Maybe not, but they are far too talented to be under .500 at this point in the season and some of the losses they have had are inexcusable. Of the Bucs six losses, three of them were at the hands of teams that currently have a top ten draft pick. Unacceptable.
Even in the Bucs wins, none of them have been very convincing. Aside from Dallas in week one, the Bucs have not controlled a game from start to finish. Tampa Bay was up 21-0 against the Falcons entering the fourth quarter, only to barely hang on to win 21-15. They were up 21-3 against the Seahawks entering the final quarter and again had to hang on to a 21-16 victory.
The Bucs fail to put teams away and for those games it turned out OK, but last week in Cleveland it really came back to bite them. They had a 17-10 lead and failed to build on it. Now, the players are not excused from any blame, they still have to execute but the coaches have to put them in the best position to execute and Tampa Bay’s staff hasn’t done that this season.
On a 4th and 2 in the fourth quarter, the Bucs had the ball on the Cleveland 37 yard line and instead of kicking the 55 yard field goal or going for it on 4th down, they elected to punt. That decision to give the ball back to Cleveland was too conservative and it cost the Bucs not in that moment, but later in the game. If they get that 4th down conversion, they likely at worst kick a field goal to make it a two score game with under ten minutes left to play.
Then there was the whole timeouts thing which I won’t get into too much because it has been talked about plenty, but again it is just being too conservative. The reasoning Bowles gave for not being more aggressive before the half also did not make sense. They didn’t want to risk throwing an interception... with Tom Brady as their quarterback who has only thrown two interceptions all year. They elected to take their remaining two timeouts with them into OT. Unfortunately those timeouts don’t carry over, they just go away. Someone should tell Todd Bowles.
Bowles’ calling card is defense and the defense has been relatively good this season but the offense has been a major let down and Byron Leftwich leading the way is just not working. Todd Bowles should have done something about it. He could have fired Leftwich earlier in the season, but he decided to stick with him and the offense has continued to struggle. Where is the accountability? Where is the “No Risk it, No Biscuit”?
Bowles already had a head coaching shot in the NFL with the New York Jets and his best year was his first year as he went 10-6. After that, his teams were a combined 13-34 before he was let go. He already has the same amount of losses with the Bucs and six games remaining that he did with the Jets all year in his first season. Bowles’ teams got worse in New York year after year, so what will happen in Tampa Bay and should the Glazers allow it?
Todd Bowles seems like a nice guy and he is a good football coach, but some guys are meant to be head coaches and some aren’t. A team takes on the personality of their head coach. No, the coach doesn’t have to scream and show tons of emotion every single game and press conference, but this team lacks energy and it lacks fire, things that are a representation of the coaching staff.
I don’t know if Bowles’ job is in jeopardy. He definitely stays if they make the playoffs, but if they fail to make the playoffs, his seat deserves to be hot or major staff changes must be made in order for him to keep his job. If the Buccaneers have any doubts about Bowles, they need to act on it sooner rather than later. An organization cannot waste time and the careers of some of the players by keeping a head coach they don’t fully believe in.