The Bucs’ Three Wise Men
The Buccaneers have been making history the past couple of months. Not only have they hired two women coaches becoming the first team in NFL history to do so, but they are also known for having the offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators all of African American descent. Head coach Bruce Arians has stated although he didn’t intend for it to be that way, they were the most qualified. All three have an extensive history with Arians and have had success with his system. Arians has left the offense in the control of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
Leftwich, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2003, had a nine-year career in the NFL before retiring in 2012. In 2016, he was hired by Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals as a coaching intern. He would be an assistant to then Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy before becoming the Cardinals Quarterbacks coach during the end of the 2017 season. When McCoy was fired early into the 2018 season, Leftwich was promoted to offensive coordinator. He and Arians would help the Cardinals to some of their best seasons since their Super Bowl 43 appearance. Leftwich has served as an appearance to Arians and has considered Arians like a mentor figure to him. Arians showed his faith in Leftwich by quickly scooping him up when the Cardinals did not retain him and placing him in charge of play calling for the Buccaneers 2019 season.
Next is defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Bowles, a former head coach in his own right, looks to bolster a defense that hasn’t been fierce in some time. Bowles was an assistant head coach under Arians in 2013 and even took home the AP Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014, the first year that award was given out. His success in Arizona led to him being named the head coach of the New York Jets in 2015. He went on to build the Jets defense by drafting defensive stars such as DE Leonard Williams, LB Darron Lee and safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Bowles would have a career record of 24-40 and led New York to a 10-6 his first year there. With Bowles in Tampa Bay, the defense is looking to get aggressive by adopting the 3-4 defense and looking to a more hybrid, versatile defense in 2019.
Lastly, we have special teams coach Keith Armstrong. Armstrong actually got his start with Bruce Arians back in 1988 as a graduate assistant when the Kangol coach was the head coach at Temple. He’s been a special teams coordinator since 1997 and was a ten-year coordinator for our long-time rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. In 2016, Armstrong and the Falcons met the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51. Despite a 28-3 lead with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, they would go on to lose in overtime 34-28. He’s helped both Matt Bryant and Matt Bosher become the most consistent at their respective positions. He’s sure to be a great help to Cairo Santos, new punter Bradley Pinion and the punt return and kickoff units. All three coaches have tremendous pedigree. African Americans are making their mark on the NFL and I believe we will see more diversity among coaching staffs very soon. Notable coaches include, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and Super Bowl champion Mike Tomlin, LA Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who’s has a coaching record of 21-11, and Buccaneers legend Tony Dungy who is in the NFL Hall of Fame. I’m excited to see what the future holds for not only the Buccaneers, but for the African American coaches in the NFL.
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