Bucs' Bruce Arians Says He'd 'Welcome' Teams To Interview Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 27, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters that he'd welcome teams to interview Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for NFL head coaching positions in 2022.

"None of the paperwork has been put in yet. They have to go through channels. And I welcome it if it is," Arians said Monday, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, when asked if teams had sought permission to interview either Leftwich or Bowles. 

A midseason rule change has allowed teams who no longer employ coaches they started the season with to interview candidates from other franchises in the final two weeks of the regular season. NFL.com's Nick Shook provided more information on Oct. 27.

Another notable change revealed in Tuesday's memo is that, beginning in the upcoming hiring cycle, teams are allowed to interview a candidate for a head coach position during the final two weeks of the regular season with the consent of the employer club. The interview can be virtual, and once the employing team gives consent, the candidate will be able to interview for any open head coach role.

NFL teams who have informed their head coaches they will not be retained after the season fall into this bucket as well.

Right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, who have interim head coaches at the helm following midseason firings of Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden, respectively, are the only two teams who can reach out for interviews.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday on NFL GameDay Morning that the Jags are interested in interviewing Leftwich as well as ex-NFL head coaches Jim Caldwell and Doug Pederson.

Leftwich has been the Bucs' OC since 2019 and helped lead Tampa Bay to its second Super Bowl win in franchise history last February.

Arians has previously touted Leftwich's ability to be a head coach and noted how angry he was when the ex-signal caller didn't even get an interview last offseason.

“Yeah that really pissed me off, I’ll be honest with you,” Arians said on 95.3 WDAE in January (h/t Jon Ledyard of the Pewter Report).

"The job he’s done...he coaches quarterbacks, he calls plays, he’s everything everybody says they are looking for. I was really hoping he’d get his first few interviews and maybe get a job out of it. I can’t speak for what the owners think and who they listen to sometimes, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets his."

Arians has also praised Bowles in the past. Following the team's 28-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in October, the head coach touted Bowles' game-planning skills, per Luke Easterling of Bucs Wire:

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported on Sunday that the Raiders are expected to interview Bowles, whose resume includes a two-year stop with the Arizona Cardinals as their defensive coordinator under Arians before leading the New York Jets as their head coach from 2015-2018.

Bowles led the Jets to a 10-6 record in 2015, which marked the team's only winning season in the past 11 years. The Cardinals were also No. 7 and No. 5 in scoring defense in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Either coordinator would be a sound choice as a team's next head coach. For now, the Bucs are focused on their upcoming game against the New York Jets on Sunday. The 11-4 Buccaneers have already clinched the NFC South and are now playing to improve their playoff seeding.