Bucs Need to Fire Todd Bowles, Too

Todd Bowles
Todd Bowles / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost in familiar fashion last night to the Dallas Cowboys. The offense was listless. The defense was confused. Tom Brady was pissed. Mike Evans dropped an open touchdown pass. No new flaw was exposed in this team as they exited the postseason. In the famous words of Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were.

The dust had not even settled from the season-ending loss before the news broke that the Bucs were firing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. It is a shocking fall from grace but otherwise unsurprising. Leftwich failed to adjust to his personnel all season and a championship unit featuring Brady, Evans, and Chris Godwin finished 24th in points scored during the regular season.

Tampa Bay, however, cannot stop with Leftwich. They need to fire Todd Bowles, too, because he is just as responsible for the disappointing season the team put forth as Leftwich.

The world was exposed to all the downsides of Bowles as a head coach last night. His roots reside on the defensive side of the ball so surely the defense must've been good, right? Wrong! The several blown coverages the Bucs suffered last night (one leading to CeeDee Lamb's fourth-down touchdown) were not new. They had been happening all season. Tampa Bay's season stats look fine because they enjoyed the anemic offenses of the NFC South six times but the defense faded down the stretch and submitted... subpar performances, like giving up 35 points to Brock Purdy in his first career start. Bad days will happen but basic miscommunications that lead to touchdowns are unacceptable for a defense-first head coach in a playoff game.

Then there's Bowles' decision-making as head coach which have been panned all season. Specifically his decision to punt on fourth down. Every single time. No matter what the circumstances are. Even the most anti-analytics head coach will admit that sometimes you just gotta go for it on fourth down. Not Bowles, though. Again, last night provided several examples of his errors, the biggest being the punt from the Bucs' 47-yard line on fourth-and three. Tampa was down 12-0 and were coming off Brady's terrible red zone interception. It could've swung the momentum. Instead the punt team ran out and the Cowboys scored another TD three minutes later to effectively put the game away. It took until the Bucs were down by 25 points with 10 minutes left in the fourth for Bowles to start going for it on fourth down.

Bowles was a tremendous defensive coordinator for a few years but he is just not a good head coach. It's clear that he cannot give the defense the attention it needs while head honcho. His in-game decision-making is among the worst in the entire NFL. Where's the redeeming quality? Where is the justification for keeping him around?

Bowles had a perfect situation in Tampa. He took over a team that he had helped coach for years. He knew everybody in the building. The offense was led by Tom freaking Brady. There was talent littered up and down the roster. And the division was the weakest it had been in years. Despite all that, Bowles managed to lead his team to an 8-9 record and got embarrassed on national television by a team that hadn't won a road playoff game in 30 years.

If that's not enough to justify firing him, I don't know what would. Bowles needs to go.