Arians set to take over hope for the Bucs

by Gary Shelton on January 9, 2019 · 6 comments

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

A great many things about the Tampa Bay Bucs have grown old.

The losing, for instance, has lasted an eternity. The interceptions have lasted a millennium. The constant changing of head coaches has gone on for what seems like centuries. The penalties, the pass coverage, the woeful offensive line -- all of those are older than the hills.

And now, their head coach is, too.

Bruce Arians, the 66-year-old coach, has taken over the franchise where most of the 43 seasons have been dismal. Think about it for a moment: Arians' coaching career started in 1975, the year before the Bucs were born.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

This time, will it work out?

Like all the other times, let's hope so. New coaches usually bring new hope. And around here, hope is growing faint.

The Bucs announced Tuesday they had signed  (a four-year deal with an option year) with Arians, who retired from the Arizona Cardinals a year ago. Arians won 49 games in five years with the Cardinals (and nine as an interim coach with Indianapolis), but he was just 15-16-1 in his last two seasons.

“Bruce Arians is one of the NFL’s most well-respected coaches over the past two decades and we are excited to have him leading our team," said Bryan Glazer. "Throughout this process, we focused on finding the right coach with a proven ability to elevate our players and lead our team forward. Bruce has played a large role in the development and career success of some of our league’s best players and we look forward to seeing him continue that work here with our franchise."

Arians is a two-time coach of the year, the only man in history to win it twice in three seasons with two different teams. Only 12 coaches have won the award more than once.

Throughout his 25-year NFL career, Arians has worked closely with some of the league’s top passers including Pro Bowlers Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. As an offensive play-caller, Arians has directed top-10 offenses with three different teams (Arizona, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh) over the last nine seasons of his coaching career.

So is all the talk about his age out of bounds? Maybe, maybe not. The oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl was Bill Belichick at age 64 (Seattle Pete Carroll was 62). Both Belichick and Carroll are older than Arians, slightly, but Arians will be far behind either when the season starts.

But 66 isn't that old for a lot of people. Lessie Brown of Cleveland just passed away at age 114, for instance. Les Colley once fathered a child at age 92. Donald Trump became president at age 70. Pinetop Perkins won a grammy at age 97. Christopher Plummer was nominated for an Academy Award at age 88.

One thing is for sure: If Arians doesn't succeed (he'll be the sixth Buc coach in 12 years), he will have been old enough to know better when he took the job.

Skeptical? Heck, haven't Bucs' followers earned their skepticism> This franchise has eaten up a lot of potential in both players and coaches over the years.

But I'll say this: I liked Arians more than I liked most of the names mentioned. I do wonder if this franchise will make Arians old before his time; it has for most of us. But wouldn't you rather risk Arians' age than Kliff Klingsbury, hired by the Cards? Or Matt LaFleur, hired by Green Bay?

Look, whoever the head coach is, he's going to feel old to the players. Odds are, he won't have the same playlist on his phone than, say, Jameis Winston will have. But it's Arians' health that has people concerned. It's a grueling job, even for a man with the reputation of a quarterback whisperer.

Speaking of Winston, he would be wise to consider this his last chance. Most prospects don't get nearly as much time with their second coach as they do their first, and Arians will carry enough clout to survive if Winston is jettisoned. But Winston remains a jigsaw puzzle where half of the pieces fit. There is still talent there if he will allow Arians to harness it.

Elsewhere? Arians must erase the ugliness (DeSean Jackson, Brent Grimes) that has started to seep through this franchise. He has to build a better offensive line, and a better running game, and a better defense, and any secondary whatsoever. He has to try to salvage Ronald Jones, if possible. He must make an entire franchise seem mature.

So if Bucs' fans are skeptical about the hiring, understand. The door to the coaching office has been a turnstile lately. But it does sound as if Arians' staff is coming into shape.

The defensive coordinator? Ex-Jets' head coach Todd Bowles. The passing game coordinator? Former Bucs' quarterback Byron Leftwich. The quarterback coach? Former Bucs' offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. The secondary coach? Longtime NFL corner Kevin Ross.

Will it be enough to give teeth to a franchise?

Maybe. If not, perhaps the team should join Arians in retirement.

{ 0 comments… read it below or Subscriptions }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: