USATSI

In the wake of a blowout loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys on Super Wild Card Weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are making sweeping changes to their coaching staff, the team announced on Thursday. The biggest name on the chopping block is offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who was let go after four seasons in Tampa Bay. As many as five offensive assistants and two defensive assistants could also be on the way out, according to a Tampa Times report.

According to the Times, receivers coach Kevin Garver and running backs coach Todd McNair were also fired and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen has decided to retire after 43 years in the league.

Leftwich served as the offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay since 2019, when he came over from the Arizona Cardinals to work under former Bucs head coach Bruce Arians. In his first three seasons, the Bucs offense clicked quite consistently, but it took a significant step backward in 2022. After ranking inside the top seven in both yards and points in each of Leftwich’s first three seasons as coordinator, Tampa Bay checked in just 15th in yards and 25th in points this year.

In particular, the Bucs’ run game was a disaster in 2022, yet Leftwich was consistently among the most run-heavy play-callers on early downs, often setting the Buccaneers behind the sticks in late-down situations. Combined with a backslide from the offensive line and injuries among skill-position players, that tendency led to Tom Brady’s worst season of the three he has played in Tampa Bay. 

A former NFL quarterback for the Jaguars, Falcons, Steelers, and Buccaneers, Leftwich was identified as a potential coach by Arians, and worked under him both in Arizona (as an intern and then quarterbacks coach) and Tampa Bay. He was promoted to offensive coordinator for one season with the Cardinals, where he worked under Steve Wilks before leaving to join Arians with the Bucs. 

Last offseason, Leftwich was considered among the finalists for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coaching job that ultimately went to Doug Pederson. Now, he will have to regroup and find another position. Meanwhile, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles — who was promoted from defensive coordinator last offseason in the wake of Arians’ surprisingly timed retirement — will have to assemble his own offensive staff. The position may or may not be a coveted one, as we don’t yet know what will happen with Brady this offseason.

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