Ex-Cowboys assistant Todd Bowles gets well-deserved second chance thanks to Bruce Arians

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles looks on before a game against the Dallas Cowboysn at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles looks on before a game against the Dallas Cowboysn at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been quite a year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wide receiver Antonio Brown quit on the team halfway through a game against the New York Jets. Tom Brady retired and then unretired. Now, the most recent news is that head coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement from coaching. The 69-year-old will join the Bucs front office as a “senior consultant for football.” He is passing the head coaching torch onto former Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Todd Bowles, giving Bowles another opportunity as a head coach and making him the sixth minority head coach in the NFL.

Bowles has had quite the coaching career. Since 2000, he has held positions with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and Arizona Cardinals. The 58-year-old was the secondary coach for the Cowboys from 2005 to 2007 under Bill Parcells. This is Bowles’ second opportunity as a head coach after having the same position with the Jets from 2015 to 2018. He served as the Bucs’ defensive coordinator for the past two years under Arians, and he also was Arians’ DC for two years in Arizona. Arians said he knew he wanted Bowles to replace him.

According to the LA Times, the Bucs got special permission from the NFL to allow Bowles to be the head coach. Typically, under the Rooney Rule, when a team searches for a new head coach, they are required to interview at least two minority candidates. But because Arians’ retirement came after the start of the league year, the coach-to-coach transfer was permissible.  The league typically only allows coaching interviews after the regular season, so it would have been the first time in league history that coaching interviews would be held after the official start of the league year. There is also an anti-tampering policy that says that after March 1, clubs are not obligated to grant permission for a coach under contract to interview.

This opportunity makes Bowles just the 24th black head coach in NFL history. Arians said that he has been thinking about this transition since the end of the 2021 season. With great respect for Bowles, he wanted to make sure that he left his DC in a position to succeed. Arians pointed out that many new head coaches get hired and obtain pretty brutal teams. Having Tom Brady and a solid roster will allow Bowles to be more likely to succeed.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians retires and passes the torch onto ex-Cowboys assistant and Bucs DC Todd Bowles

In his press conference, Arians said succession is way more important to him than winning another Super Bowl. In addition to Super Bowl wins and being a 2x AP NFL Coach of the Year, Arians leaves a far more important aspect of his head coaching legacy behind. He has always been an ally to minorities. The head coach led one of the most diverse coaching staffs in the league. All of his top assistants at the Bucs were black (Bowles, Harold Goodwin, Byron Leftwich, and Keith Armstrong). Additionally, his defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar were the first two female coaches to win a Super Bowl.

Amidst the Brian Flores lawsuit, Arians paints a picture of what the NFL can look like if more minorities are given a chance on coaching staffs. According to CBS Sports, Arians was also the first white player at Virginia Tech to have a Black roommate. Here is what Arians had to say about passing the torch to his good friend and why he decided to do it:

"“Because I don’t give a s— about the Hall of Fame. Succession is way more important to me. This has been my dream for a long time. Guys that know me, they knew I wanted one of my guys to take over. And that’s more important to me than anything, and have a place that I could go and be welcomed back. And obviously, I have a job now and the title’s pretty good. We’ll figure out what the hell it means, but it’s pretty damn good. And I get to stay and have the relationships that I love, and I couldn’t turn it over to a better person. We’ve been together, I’d hate to say how many years, age both of us. Todd’s going to do a great job.”"

The move to let his long-time colleague take over his head coaching role is an incredible gesture. The former Cowboys assistant is getting a great and well-deserved opportunity from a man he considers “the most influential coaching figure and father figure” he has had in the league.

Next. 5 Prospects from HBCUs the Cowboys Should Consider. dark