1. Bucs

Bucs hire Bruce Arians as head coach

Arians will be the Bucs' sixth head coach since 2008.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians makes a call against the Buccaneers during the first half of their game on Sept. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. [Associated Press]
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians makes a call against the Buccaneers during the first half of their game on Sept. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. [Associated Press]
Published Jan. 8, 2019|Updated Jan. 9, 2019

TAMPA — The Bucs need a quarterback whisperer. Bruce Arians wrote the book on it.

His next chapter will begin in Tampa Bay.

Arians, 66, will become Tampa Bay's sixth head coach since 2008, replacing Dirk Koetter who was fired after a 5-11 mark on Dec. 30.

Arians is agreed to a four-year contract with a  club option for a fifth year.

"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," Bucs owner/co-chairman Bryan Glazer said. "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. We look forward to seeing him continue that work here with our franchise."

Arians wrote a book called The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback with Lars Anderson.

His next project will be Jameis Winston, 25, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 who has only one year left on his rookie contract. Winston already is one of the most prolific passers in Bucs history but has produced only one winning record in four seasons. He is scheduled to earn $20.92-million in 2019.

Arians has nurtured four Pro Bowl quarterbacks—Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer.

Arians first met Winston when the Hueytown, Ala., quarterback was in middle school and attended a football camp in Birmingham put on by Arians and his son.

Winston has said when he saw the Super Bowl ring Arians had on as the offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he began thinking about winning one.

Arians has always found ways to connect with his quarterbacks on and off the field.

"My quarterbacks have to be a member of my family, and that has nothing to do with football," Arians said in his book. "Trust is everything…It's all about family, family, family."

Arians will bring many of his Cardinals coaching staff to Tampa Bay, including former Jets head coach Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, who reached an agreement with the team Tuesday according to ESPN.

Bowles, 55, says he owes everything to Arians. He played for him at Temple, coached with him in Cleveland and was hired by him as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals.

"It was just an honor that he even considered me,'' Bowles said during an NFL Films production of A Football Life on Arians. "The man, how he changed my life and created the things that he created for me, I will forever be in debt.''

"He was one of the smartest players I've ever coached, and then we had to work together in Cleveland, and I saw how great of a teacher he had become," Arians told Sports Illustrated in 2015.

Other former Cardinals coaches added to his staff in Tampa Bay will include: Byron Leftwich, who will be the Bucs' offensive coordinator. Leftwich went 0-3 as a quarterback with the Bucs in 2009 before giving way to Josh Freeman; Harold Goodwin, who was both an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in Arizona, could be the running game coordinator; and defensive backs coach Kevin Ross.

Clyde Christensen reportedly could be the Bucs' quarterbacks coach. lt would be his second stint in Tampa Bay. He served as a quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator under Tony Dungy with the Bucs. He also was Dungy's quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis.

The Bucs already have defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, who worked for Arians in Arizona, under contract for another year.

Arians also remains close to former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who could land a spot as a senior advisor or assistant head coach. In Arizona, Tom Moore held a similar role under Arians.

Arians will become the NFL's oldest head coach in the last 20 years at the time of his hiring.

Arians retired from coaching following the 2017 season with one year remaining on his contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Technically, the Bucs traded for another head coach. Initially, the NFL said no compensation was needed. Then the Cardinals pressed the issue and the Bucs agreed to trade their sixth round pick to Arizona in exchange for the Cardinals seventh round pick and the rights to Arians.

He cited a desire to spend more time with his family and had undergone some health problems while coaching the Cardinals. Last year he worked as an NFL analyst for CBS.

Arians has been considered the front-runner for the job since the team fired Koetter Dec. 30. He interviewed with general manager Jason Licht in Tampa Saturday and underwent a complete physical at a local hospital as part of the process, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. Arians' personal physician also was part of the interview process.

The Bucs also interviewed Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard.

But none of those candidates have any head coaching experience.

Arians also has worked with Licht, who was the Cardinals Vice President of player personnel in 2013 with the Cardinals.

While the Bucs had one of the NFL's top offenses, they were 27th in total defense and 31st in scoring last year. Their personnel primarily is geared for a 4-3 base defense with players like defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. But he and others such as defensive tackle Vita Vea and defensive ends Carl Nassib and Jason Pierre-Paul are athletic and versatile enough to adapt to any front.

 Contact Rick Stroud at Follow @NFLStroud


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