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An NFL head coach always has some crisis to manage or fire to extinguish and this day was no different for Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles. Outside the team’s fieldhouse where he was sitting down for an interview with OutKick, reporters were gathered to pepper him about Tom Brady’s absence from practice.
And soon enough the man who grew up loving baseball and still calls it “my game” was addressing the football drama about Brady with a calm demeanor that is one of his trademarks.
Maybe that’s an advantage of being a second-time head coach. Bowles now carries that distinction in Tampa Bay after leading the New York Jets from 2015 through 2018 as a first-time coach.
Todd Bowles: ‘Don’t Sweat ‘Em’
“There’s a lot different,” Bowles said. “You learn a lot as a coach every year and as you get older, and the fact that I know all these people is one thing.
“The fact is that I’m not going to sit there and go in the offensive room and try to learn the playbook. They run the offense. I run the defense. I manage the game. That’s what a head coach does, he manages the game, he manages the situations and handles all the little things one at a time.
“I think you learn a lot about the building, learn a lot about the culture. It’s a lot easier when you’ve already been in it as opposed to trying to build it. You learn the questions you have as first-time head coach you have the answers as a second-time head coach. So you don’t sweat ’em. You make the decisions and move on.”
Bowles is obviously very comfortable in his own skin. He has to be comfortable with himself to openly admit he’s handing the offense, or one-third of the team, to offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin while Bowles focuses his efforts elsewhere.
But Bowles has learned that good assistants, as well as good players, can help make a good head coach. So he utilizes assistants such as cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross and Goodwin to coach their players and also to serve in other ways.
“Coach Ross has the pulse of the team,” Bowles said. “He’s got the pulse of the team in the locker room. Coach Goodwin does a great job. We have a lot of different coaches that I can lean on for a lot of things, so depending on what I need, all of them are available to me.
“I don’t try to say my way is the right way. We come up with the best idea and we move on from there as a staff.”
Todd Bowles on Tom Brady: ‘We See Similar’
The fact Bowles is calling the defensive plays and is fully focused on that side of the ball doesn’t mean he has completely vacated the work of managing people on offense. That cannot happen with a team that has so many accomplished offensive players.
And one of those players is named Tom Brady.
“It’s been great,” Bowles said of coaching Brady “I mean, he’s a heck of a competitor and football player. You don’t play that long in the league without being very diligent on things you do and work out and things you want to improve. He’s outstanding.
“We see the game similar. We just want to win, stats don’t matter. We have to throw it 50 times or run it 50 times, we just want to win.”
‘No Risk It, No Biscuit’ No Longer
The Bucs won the past three years under Bruce Arians and did that to the greatest height in 2020 when they won the Super Bowl. But the way those Bucs won and the approach they took will change under Bowles.
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It’s no longer going to be “no risk it, no biscuit.”
“I don’t have a slogan,” Bowles said. “I don’t have a slogan but we gave away some games last year and even some of the ones we won, we weren’t smart playing situational football.
“We’re trying to be a smarter team this year on the field and execute certain situations better. That little thing can make us that much better.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero