After three seasons as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach, Bruce Arians suddenly stepped down from his post on Wednesday, announcing a move to their front office, where he'll serve as a senior consultant. The 69-year-old will be replaced by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who happened to receive a new five-year contract.
Arians addressed his decision with reporters on Thursday, explaining how he wanted to have a positive succession plan in place before handing the reins over to his longtime friend and assistant in Bowles. With veteran quarterback Tom Brady returning for the 2022 campaign, Tampa Bay remains a contender. And this passing of the torch is more than encouraging news to former Bucs defensive end Steve McLendon.
"As an organization and as a team, that's another win. That was just another win for both sides," McLendon told The Zach Gelb Show on Thursday. "BA knows what it looks like, he's been doing it for a long time. Bowles knows what it looks like. They've been a very dynamic duo, working together... At the end of the day -- regardless of how it looks to anyone else -- I feel it's a win for both sides... [The news] wasn't a shock, but it was exciting...
"I still think BA is a coach. He's still going to help out, do things with football. That's what BA does. But Coach Bowles is one hell of a coach as well. I just feel like they're still together. We still see them together. I'm big on the word 'team,' and it means that, together, everybody achieves more... [Arians and Brady] talked all the time, so [rumors of a rift] is just talk. I don't believe that."
In three years on Tampa's sideline, Arians earned an 31-18 record and helped lead the franchise to a blowout win in Super Bowl 55. With clutch assistance from Brady, the Bucs won five playoff games under Arians' watch, and in the past two seasons, their offense ranked top-three in average points and top-seven in yards. Arians spent eight seasons as an NFL head coach.
As for Bowles, whose unit ranked top-five in average points allowed in 2021, this'll be his second stint as a head coach. From 2015-2018, he oversaw the New York Jets, and due to a 24-40 overall record, he was anything but a fan favorite. Bowles' defensive mind can't be questioned, though, and with him now at the helm, Tampa Bay could become even more well-rounded. At this time, the Bucs have the second-best odds to win Super Bowl 57.
The entire Buccaneers conversation between McLendon and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.
You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.