Bowles helps provide the Bucs with leadership

by Gary Shelton on August 6, 2021

in general

Bowles already among the Bucs' best./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

In the best of times, and sometimes in the worst, he is the brain behind the brains, the general beneath the general, the calm beyond the chaos.

He is the mastermind, or the absent professor, or the gruff voice pushing his troops down the field.

He is the defensive coordinator.

Around here, that is no small deal.

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

He is Monte Kiffin, whispering his game plans to his assistants when no one else is in the room. He is Floyd Peters, the drill sergeant, trying to make bricks out of modeling clay. He is Rusty Tillman, trying to quell the turmoil of Sam Wyche's reign.

These days, the defensive coordinator is Todd Bowles, the good right hand of head coach Bruce Arians. And, on a team with so many expectations, he is the one to trust.

Since the days of Dick Bass and Wayne Fontes, the Bucs have usually believed in their defensive coordinators. Of the 15 men who have been defensive coordinators only two -- Kiffin and Bowles - have winning records.

Usually, however, the defense has been better than the offense around here and, as such, it seems as if it had the more rational, less overwhelmed leadership. It's hard to say that now, when the offense has Tom Brady and Mike Evans and Tristan Wirfs, but with this Bucs' defense, it has been possible to see the growth.

Which is why the return of Bowles this season was viewed as such as good thing.

"I love it here," Bowles said. "We've got a great group of coaches that Bruce [Arians] has put together. We've got some good players; they're great to work with. I love the area and the camaraderie. So it's not about being a head coach, it's about being the best coach, [having] a chance to succeed and be happy, and I'm happy here."

But doesn't he want to be a head coach again?

"I have a desire to get my team ready," Bowles said. "I don't look for the next job. If you look for the next job you don't do the job you have. If something comes up at the end of the year, then that's a discussion but right now it's the furthest thing from my mind."

Bucs' players sing Bowles' praises.

"We have trust on both sides of the ball with coaches and players," Bowles said. "We coach them hard and they understand that it's not personal and they respond. They make mistakes and we correct them. We make mistakes, they correct us. So it's a lot of open dialogue and a lot of trust, and we kind of build from there.

"They're playing with a lot more confidence, that's for sure. And we're working on the understanding of each guy's individual position and how it pertains to them. The awareness is there; we've just got to make sure we keep grinding. They're not going to get it in a week or two, so we've got to keep working at it. But nobody in particular as far as not expecting them where to be. I think their growth last year throughout the course of a season was more tell-tale than these two weeks of camp."

Bowles touched on several of his players:

-- On Vita Vea: "I think it's big for us because Vita, he not only eats up double-teams, he beats double-teams," Bowles said. "I think he's been having a good camp thus far. He's got a good ways to go. His understanding of the defense has grown immensely since last year. I'm looking forward to having him for 17 weeks and being a presence but we've still got to develop guys just in case. I think ‘Nacho’ (Rakeem Nunez-Roches) and Steve [McLendon] do a great job as well. Vita's big for us."

-- On linebacker Devin White's pass-rushing ability: "He's still capable of a lot more but it's a luxury to have a guy that can play three downs and play everything well," Bowles said. "As far as body position and understanding run schemes and everything else, he's gotten a lot better at all those things, but he still needs to grow more. And he should because he's only going into his third year. But it's a luxury to have both of those guys that can do all those things and you don't have to worry about bad matchups."

-- On rookie defensive end Joe Tryon: "He's coming along fine. He's learning the scheme. It's not an easy scheme to learn for him so we're trying to put him in different positions and move him around. We'd still like to see him in preseason, but he's got some tools. He's got a toolkit, he showed that in college. Love the build and the size; he's very intelligent. He's tough, he's smart. He just has to learn the scheme, and if you can play in this scheme, we'll find a place for you."

-- On the growth of safety Antoine Winfield: "Just the mental growth of the game (is better)," Bowles said. "We both know he left some plays out there on the field last year. He's doing his job and playing his position, but he can expand on that, and he will, and he has already some in camp. Just knowing the overall defense and knowing where he can cheat and take advantage of his plays and not just use his athletic ability."

-- On if the defensive starters are set: "When I was a player, the door was always open for anybody to take a spot," Bowles said. "You have to make me notice you, and as coaches [watch], you have to show yourself when we put you out there to make plays in certain situations. So you're the starter until somebody plays better than you and replaces you. If nobody plays better than you, you're probably going to be the starter."

After last year's Super Bowl, Bowles trails Kiffin by one post-season win.

Previous post:

Next post: