It took him long enough but Bruce Arians finally gets to enjoy his cigar as the head coach of a Super Bowl champion. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions following a dominating 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It is the franchise’s second championship, the first since the 2002 season. It was also the first time in 13 years that the Buccaneers had made the playoffs. Quite the season for a head coach whose motto is “no risk it, no biscuit.”
Sunday’s game marked the third appearance for Arians in the Super Bowl, his first as a head coach. Arians’ two previous trips to the big game were as the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 but fell to the Green Bay Packers in 2010. Including his Super Bowl trips, Arians has now been a coordinator or head coach in 15 playoff games. He went 5-3 as the Pittsburgh offensive coordinator and has gone 5-2 in the playoffs as a head coach.
Arians got his first head coaching job a season after he took over as the interim head coach for the Colts. A year later he took over a struggling Arizona Cardinals team. He took a team that finished at 5-11 in 2012 and turned them into a 10-6 team that missed the playoffs by a game. Through five seasons as the Cardinals head coach, Arians posted a regular-season record of 49-31 with a postseason record of 1-2. The biggest issue for those Arizona teams was staying healthy. In 2014, Arizona went 11-5 but lost in the wildcard round to the Carolina Panthers. They were without starting quarterback Carson Palmer that game. Palmer’s injury derailed the season weeks prior as the Cardinals had a chance to win the division but lost the final three games and backed into the wildcard spot.
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A year later, the Cardinals went 13-3 but lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to an injury at the end of the season. His absence crippled the defense and eventually, the Cardinals lost again to the Panthers. This time the loss came in the conference title game. The final two seasons for Arians in Arizona were torpedoed by injuries to Palmer and others. He kept the team at or near .500 during that time but left the desert following the 2017 season. A year away and the itch returned. Soon Arians was announced as the new head coach for Tampa Bay heading into the 2019 season.
When Arians arrived in Tampa Bay, he brought over a few familiar faces to be his coordinators. Byron Leftwich signed on to be Arians’ offensive coordinator after working together in Arizona. Leftwich had a horrible half-season with the Cardinals in 2018 but the entire team struggled that season. Since his first days on the coaching staff in Arizona, Leftwich had earned the patronage of Arians. The elder head coach saw a talented offensive mind and groomed the ex-quarterback to be his coordinator. On the other side of the ball, Arians picked up another former Cardinals coach in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Having recently been sent packing by the Jets and replaced by Adam Gase, Bowles signed on to bring his aggressive defensive scheme to Florida.
In two short seasons, the trio has helped turnaround a Bucs franchise that had been meddling in mediocrity. Arians’ coaching staff is filled with unconventional hires and has received deserved praise for its ability to produce results. For Arians, the only thing that matters is your ability to do the job right. Mix in a talented staff with the luring of a future hall of fame quarterback and tight end, and it’s no wonder why Tampa Bay is now hoisting the Super Bowl trophy. Arians turned over his high-flying offense to Leftwich who in turn, allowed Tom Brady the freedom to adjust on the fly. The coaching staff adjusted the offense to fit Brady’s strengths and the team as a whole began to hit its stride as the season progressed.
Nothing Left to Prove
Having Brady as your quarterback helps to hide deficiencies on offense. However, allowing a transcendent player to fit in your offense isn’t easy. Allowing your defense to adjust and having faith they will do the job, isn’t easy. Nor is managing a locker room of a team with an insane mix of personalities. Yet Arians did all of that and was able to trust his staff to do the same. This Super Bowl victory is the icing on the late to back cake that is Arians’ coaching career. His first job came at the age of 60. He wins his title at the age of 68. It is a testament to the will and ability of the man with the Kangol hat.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals and covers the San Francisco 49ers for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada