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Todd Bowles expected to return as Bucs head coach in 2023 season

The Bucs went 8-9 during the regular season but won the NFC South, only the eighth division title in club history.
Published Jan. 14|Updated Jan. 15

TAMPA — Barring an unforeseen change of heart, the Bucs plan to retain Todd Bowles as their head coach for the 2023 season regardless of the outcome of Monday night’s wild-card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed Saturday.

Bowles, 59, led the Bucs to an NFC South title despite becoming only the fourth team to reach the postseason with a losing record (8-9) during a non-strike year.

While the Bucs struggled to gain any momentum, never winning more than two games in a row, Bowles delivered only the eighth division title in franchise history.

The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, have never relieved a head coach of his duties after only one season. Greg Schiano (2012-13) and Lovie Smith (2014-15) were each fired as head coach after only two losing seasons and no playoff appearances.

Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach on March 30 when Bruce Arians decided to move to a front office position as senior assistant to general manager Jason Licht and execute a succession plan.

He wasn’t permitted to make any substantive changes to the coaching staff. Bowles retained the play-calling duties on defense while appointing Kacy Rodgers and Larry Foote co-defensive coordinators. The Bucs tied Denver and Tennessee for 13th in allowing 21.1 points per game.

Bowles also enjoys a good relationship with quarterback Tom Brady, who ended his retirement after 40 days to return to the Bucs on March 13.

Brady competed against Bowles’ New York Jets defenses while playing for the Patriots. He has been very supportive of Bowles throughout the regular season.

“He’s done a great job and (I’m) just enjoying my time with him,” Brady said last week. “Obviously, I played against him for quite a while, too. He’s got great presence, great leadership. Yeah, he does a great job. I think there’s high expectations, he’s got a lot of experience and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Brady was asked if he shared some similar philosophies with Bowles.

“We’re here to win games and be professional, and not getting too up or too down over the course of a long season,” he said. “... I think having the consistency to show up every day and be the same person is a great trait. It can’t be one way when you lose and another way when you win, one way at the beginning of the season and another way at the end of the season.

“I think you’ve got to have a lot of consistency to the process of trying to improve and be the best you can be over the course of a long year.”

Less clear is the future of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

Tampa Bay had averaged more than 30 points per game in the first three seasons under Leftwich and Arians. But this season, the Bucs finished 15th in total offense with 346.7 yards per game but fell to 18.4 points per game, eighth-worst in the league.

Bowles has expressed a desire to eventually give up the defensive play-calling duties next season and could appoint either Rodgers or Foote to take over that role.

Tampa Bay was forced to rebuild its offensive line. Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet unexpectedly retired at age 28. Guard Alex Cappa signed with the Bengals as a free agent, and center Ryan Jensen has spent the year on injured reserve after sustaining a knee injury the second day of training camp.

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The Bucs still managed to win the NFC South by finishing with a 4-2 record in the division, including sweeping the Saints and rallying from an 11-point deficit to beat Carolina 30-24 two weeks ago.

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