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Decision not to call plays health-related, Bruce Arians acknowledges

The 68-year-old Bucs coach has been criticized for not immersing himself more in the game plan.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians, 68, said Friday he has lost 25 pounds this season after gaining as much while mostly sequestered during the offseason due to the coronavirus.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians, 68, said Friday he has lost 25 pounds this season after gaining as much while mostly sequestered during the offseason due to the coronavirus. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Dec. 18, 2020

Amid the rising clamor for him to become more immersed in the Bucs’ offensive game-planning, coach Bruce Arians indicated Friday that his decision to delegate isn’t merely a conscientious one.

It’s a health-related one.

Arians, 68, acknowledged his delegation of play-calling chores to second-year coordinator Byron Leftwich, which has come under intense national scrutiny, has relieved him of considerable stress he hardly needs at this stage of his career.

“Oh, for sure,” he said during Friday’s virtual session with reporters. “It’s not really the play calling, it’s the play preparation. The amount of time you put into a game plan when you’re calling it vs. when you’re putting in a game plan for somebody else to call, and assisting them. So yeah, that part of it definitely relieves a lot of stress.”

Related: Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith will miss Sunday's game in Atlanta

A well-documented stipulation by Arians to return to coaching was that he would not call plays. The Glazer family, which owns the team, was surprised if not disappointed by that decision but agreed to it.

Though especially vulnerable to the coronavirus due to his age and medical history (three-time cancer survivor), Arians added his health remains “pretty solid” in this unprecedented NFL season.

“I’ve lost 25 pounds during this season that I gained this summer from COVID, so it’s been a good year so far,” he said. “This last 10 (pounds) are going to be harder, but I feel great personally. And the COVID thing is go to work, go home, go to work, go home. There’s not much to life right now other than football.”