Arians leaves Bucs’ coaching position

by Gary Shelton on March 31, 2022

in general

Arians leaving the Bucs' sideline./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

The question comes down to this, blunt and direct. The way you answer it says a lot about how you should feel about the Tampa Bay Bucs this morning.

Did Bruce Arians jump?

Or was he pushed?

Arians, the former head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, sent shock waves across the NFL Wednesday evening when he announced he was stepping down as head coach of the Bucs, a move that was stunning in its timing.

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

Arians, the 69-year-old coach, is moving to the Bucs' front office, where he will be a Senior Football Consultant. Arians leaves after three-year run that was the most successful in franchise history with a Super Bowl and an NFC South title. His winning percentage with Tampa Bay was far and away the highest of any coach the Bucs have had.

And still, there will be plenty of people who believe that Arians lost a power struggle to quarterback Tom Brady, where rumors of friction have tagged along after both men. It's easy to whip up a conspiracy where Brady gave an "Arians or me" edict to the Glazers, who own the team, and they figured this team's odds of winning next year were higher with Brady.

Regardless, the timing of the announcement -- damn near April -- invited speculation. The Bucs had one of the most highly respected off-seasons in the NFL, and the draft is upcoming. It's awful late in the off-season for a coaching change.

And yet, here we are. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will take over as head coach.

That's the thing about rumors. In today's world, they seem to outrank quotes or statistics or denials, and they travel with speed and power. People in authority don't always tell the truth, so they are always doubted, particularly when rumors of a rift have been so successful.

Face it: The Bucs will win more in 2022 with Brady and without Arians than the other way around. That's not to say they'll win the Super Bowl -- which validates all decisions. But if Brady stayed retired, and didn't recruit much of the roster to join him, the Bucs were looking at the wrong side of .500.

"I have spent most of the last 50 years of my life on the sidelines as a football coach in one form or another. Today, I have made the decision to move from the sidelines into another role with the Buccaneers front office, assisting Jason Licht and his staff.

"I love football. I love the relationships, the strategy, the competition—everything. It has been one hell of a ride, but I know this is the right time for me to make this transition.

"So why now?

"The simple answer is that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could during this incredible coaching journey. Winning Super Bowl LV at our home stadium, with my mom and family in attendance, was really the last item I wanted to check off my career bucket list. For me, this is about more than just trying to add more wins to my coaching record.

"This team is in a much better place than it was three years ago due to Jason’s great work and the Glazer family’s commitment to winning. Before you start thinking this is about my health, don’t. This is the best I have felt in many years and I’m looking forward to helping this team continue winning through my new role. 

"I want to focus on what I can give back to this incredible game that has provided so much for me and my family," Arians said. "I really began thinking about my personal transition plan earlier this offseason. I wanted to ensure when I walked away that Todd Bowles would have the best opportunity to succeed. So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn’t want that for Todd. Tom’s decision to come back, along with Jason and his staff doing another great job of keeping the core of this team intact during free agency, confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd. I began conversations with Jason and the Glazer family a few weeks ago about a possible succession plan. Their understanding and support mean the world to me."

Arians is a two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, winning the award following the 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts and the 2014 season with the Arizona Cardinals. Including his 9-3 record as interim head coach of Indianapolis in 2012, Arians’ .635 winning percentage (89-51-1) ranks eighth among coaches who have coached at least 100 games in the Super Bowl era. 

Arians is Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in regular season and postseason winning percentage, while his .619 regular season winning percentage as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals is the best in that franchise’s history. He joins Bill Parcells, Andy Reid and Marty Schottenheimer as the only coaches during the Super Bowl era to hold that distinction for two organizations.

During Arians’ tenure, Tampa Bay led the NFL in points scored (29.8 per game), passing yards (300.0 per game), passing touchdowns (118), completions (1,284), and passing first downs (755), ranked third in total yards (396.2 per game), fourth in first downs (22.9 per game), and seventh in sacks allowed (92).

Arians said his health is fine.

In Bowles, the Bucs will trust their team to a defensive-minded coach. When Bowles was the head coach of the Jets, he had a 24-40 record, which some fans are sure to be skeptical over. But keep in mind that before Bill Belichick had Tom Brady, he had a losing record, too.

For the record, Brady had nice things to say about Arians as he left.

"Thank you, BA for all that you have done for me and our team,"  Brady wrote in an Instagram Post "You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you. You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive. 

"Smart, tough, and loyal are a few of the words to describe your style. I will always remember the conversations we had when you recruited me two years ago and all of the things we discussed came true. We all benefited from your leadership and guidance and I’m so proud of everything we accomplished. You were a huge part of the decision to join the Bucs and I’m forever grateful.

"I’m so happy you will spend the much-deserved time with your loving and supportive family that has given so much to our communities. Congratulations on an amazing coaching career but more importantly, how you positively impacted me and everyone else in the game of football."

Do you believe him? Do you believe Arians? Or do you believe in the whispers that you have heard for weeks now?

Regardless, don’t you believe fans will debate the real reason Arians is gone.

Previous post:

Next post: