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For now, short-handed Bucs are in ‘Goody’s’ hands

Aspiring head coach Harold Goodwin could get a one-game audition Sunday.
Bucs assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin walks the field before a game against the Falcons in Atlanta earlier this month. Goodwin, 48, is serving as interim head coach while Bruce Arians recovers from COVID-19.
Bucs assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin walks the field before a game against the Falcons in Atlanta earlier this month. Goodwin, 48, is serving as interim head coach while Bruce Arians recovers from COVID-19. [ DANNY KARNIK | Associated Press ]
Published Dec. 29, 2021|Updated Dec. 29, 2021

TAMPA — The inevitable tidings arrived Tuesday morning. A knot tightened in the stomach of Harold Goodwin as he took the call from his boss, Bruce Arians, who never calls in the mornings.

“Himself just being the way he is, he goes, ‘Hey, got a little problem with this COVID thing, you got (the gig),’” recalled Goodwin, known universally as “Goody.”

“I said, ‘OK.’ He’s like, ‘All right, talk to you later.’ Click.”

With that, Tampa Bay’s 48-year-old associate head coach/run-game coordinator was overseeing a playoff-bound team mired in positive tests and prominent injuries. Hardly the way Goodwin envisioned getting his first NFL head coaching opportunity.

But at least it is an opportunity. While the amended NFL COVID-19 protocols give Arians — who tested positive on Tuesday — a chance to return to the sideline Sunday against the Jets at the Meadowlands, “Goody” is behind the wheel for now.

Even if he’s not steering Arians’ trademark practice golf cart.

“He’s a guy that’s kind of no-nonsense,” tight end Cameron Brate said.

“Today was his first day, so it was kind of interesting seeing him in that new role, but he did a really good job communicating with us, kind of relaying some messages from Bruce to the players this morning in the team meeting. He’s ready to handle the role and he’s going to do a great job.”

Should Arians remain absent Sunday, Goodwin will manage the game — in terms of timeouts, going for it on fourth downs, etc. — while offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive counterpart Todd Bowles run their respective units.

“Obviously with the staff we have, missing BA (Arians) is not a problem, because all the coaches know what to do,” Goodwin said. “My job is just to be here and manage everything until BA makes his return.”

Therein lies the reason — or at least one of the prevailing ones — that a head-coaching chance has eluded this married dad of three until now. In an era when most franchises gravitate toward play-callers (especially offensive ones), Goodwin — who played guard at Michigan in the early 1990s — has spent most of his quarter-century career as an offensive line coach.

He did serve as Arians’ offensive coordinator with the Cardinals for five seasons (2013-2017), but Arians called the plays.

Running back Ronald Jones gets a hug from Harold Goodwin during a game at Carolina last season.
Running back Ronald Jones gets a hug from Harold Goodwin during a game at Carolina last season. [ BRIAN WESTERHOLT | Associated Press ]
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“I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing with a couple of teams in the past, but I know this league is predicated a lot on play-callers,” Goodwin said. “Why, I don’t know, but everybody likes play-callers. But there are a lot of good coaches out here in the National Football League that are good leaders, they just don’t happen to call plays, like myself.

“We talk about what makes a head coach. It’s about building cultures, it’s about being leaders of men, and just having that disciplinary, authority-type figure that can get a team behind you and fight for you. There are a lot of good coaches out here that can do that, that are not coordinators. That’s all I’ll say towards that.”

Even as Bowles and Leftwich receive overtures from other teams seeking a head coach, Goodwin might get his chance to make a one-game statement for himself and his coaching peers with less prominent titles. If Arians remains out, and the Bucs deliver a clean, disciplined effort on Goodwin’s watch, perhaps his window of opportunity widens.

“It’s just cool to see him get the opportunity,” right guard Alex Cappa said. “He’s been with (Arians) for a long time, and he is the assistant head coach after all. So he’s ready.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

About Harold “Goody” Goodwin

Age: 48

Hometown: Columbia, S.C.

Wife: Monica

Children: 3 (two daughters ages 22 and 20, 15-year-old son)

Alma mater: Michigan (1992-1995)

Noteworthy: After serving as a Wolverines graduate assistant, Goodwin served as offensive line coach at Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan before jumping to the NFL in 2004. He has worked for five teams, but has been with Bruce Arians since 2007, working with the Bucs coach at Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Arizona and Tampa Bay. ... His younger brother Jonathan is a former Pro Bowl lineman who won Super Bowl 44 with the Saints. ... His son, Bryson, was a receiver on the undefeated Jesuit High football team that recently won the Class 6A state title.

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