Bucs part ways with OC Leftwich, five other coaches

After getting routed by the Cowboys on Monday night, it’s clear, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles felt the team needed to make some changes, and on Thursday, it started with the coaching staff.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, specialists coach Chris Boniol, wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, offensive quality control Coach Jeff Kastl, assistant Defensive Line Coach Lori Locust and Running Backs Coach Todd McNair. In addition, Quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen, Senior Offensive Assistant Rick Christophel, and Outside Linebackers Coach Bob Sanders have decided to retire.

“We appreciate the hard work and contributions that all of these coaches made to our successes over the past four seasons,” said Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles via a press release from the team. “As a collective group, we did not meet the high standards that had been set for this past year, and my focus now is on doing what is needed to ensure a successful 2023 season. These were very difficult decisions, but something that I felt was necessary for our football team going forward.”

The Buccaneers won the NFC South but had a disappointing 8-9 record and struggled throughout this season.

The 43-year-old Leftwich, who spent four seasons in Tampa Bay, was one of the hottest head coaching candidates over the past two seasons due to the success the Buccaneers’ offense had with Brady. However, after the way the team struggled on offense this season(18.4 points per game), Bowles and the Buccaneers felt they needed to go in another direction.

It should be interesting to see the impact this move has on soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady, who the Bucs reportedly want to bring back. 

‘Bucs’ Brady: ‘It’s not really who is favored or not favored’

The 2023 NFL playoffs could be Tom Brady’s last ride, and of course, he wants to go out on top, but according to Vegas, the Buccaneers’ season will end Monday night in Tampa Bay against the Cowboys(12-5) in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The Buccaneers(8-9) are home underdogs(Cowboys 2.5 point favorites), but according to Brady, none of that matters.

“It’s not really who is favored or not favored; it’s who plays the best,” Brady said Friday. “I’ve never really paid attention to those things. I just try to go play the best I can.”

During the 2020 Super Bowl run, the Buccaneers wore white jerseys, pewter pants, and helmets. In addition, Tampa Bay defeated the Cowboys 19-3 in the season-opener, but Brady knows that the jerseys and the previous matchups don’t matter. 

“Yeah, they’ve got a great team,” he said. “I’ve played them quite a bit over the years, and I have a lot of respect for the organization, their history, a lot of great players. But all of its about three hours on Sunday – Monday night – and everything’s going to come down to what we do those three hours. Nothing in the past, nothing about the color jerseys we’re wearing. It’s who’s playing, what we’re doing, how we’re executing, how we’re executing under pressure. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

For the Buccaneers, it’s win or go home, and Brady, who won seven Super Bowls titles and has the most playoff wins in NFL history, knows this all so well.

“Yeah, I feel there’s a lot urgency naturally this week,” Brady said. “Everyone knows what we’re playing for – you’re playing for a chance to move on. There’s no, ‘Oh, we were close,’ or, ‘It was almost there. Two more plays.’ Look at two seasons ago – we ended up winning it all [and] there was a lot of really close plays. Last year, it comes down to plays at the end of the game that they made, and we didn’t. You’re going to have make the plays at the end. It’s tough because there’s good teams, and there’s little margin of error. All these teams are well-coached, they’ve got good offenses, good defenses, they’ve got a lot of good playmakers. These are the best teams that are playing right now, and you’ve got to play [well] if you want to advance.”

Before losing to the Falcons in a meaningless game in their regular-season finale, Tampa Bay had won two straight, and in the NFL, as we’ve seen in the past, it’s not the best team that always wins, but it’s the teams that are playing the best, which Brady discussed on Friday.

“It’s not the best team that wins; it’s the team that plays the best [that] wins,” he said. “I was part of a team that won every game until the Super Bowl, and we didn’t play the best that day, and we lost, and you don’t end up reaching your goal. I’ve been on the other end of it where I was a big underdog, my first year starting against the Rams, and we played better than they did that day. But that’s all that matters. That’s what single elimination is all about. You’ve got to be at your best in that moment.”

By record and on paper, the Cowboys are the better team, but as we’ve seen throughout his 23-year career, Brady can still make things happen but at age 45, and with the talent on the Buccaneers, that might be a tall order.

Playoff scenarios for Week 17 in NFL

As we enter Week 17, five of the seven teams in AEC have clinched(Bills, Chiefs, Ravens, Bengals, Chargers), while in the NFC, four teams(Eagles, Vikings, 49ers, Cowboys).

Below are the playoff scenarios for Week 17 in the NFL:



Buffalo Bills – AFC East division title

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division title

Baltimore Ravens – playoff berth

Cincinnati Bengals – playoff berth

Los Angeles Chargers – playoff berth


Week 17 – at Cincinnati (11-4), Monday, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN/ABC

Week 18 – vs. New England (7-8)

Buffalo clinches homefield advantage and AFC’s lone first-round bye with:

  1. BUF win + KC loss


Week 17 – vs. Buffalo (12-3), Monday, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN/ABC

Week 18 – vs. Baltimore (10-5)

Cincinnati clinches AFC North division title with:

  1. CIN win + BAL loss or tie OR

  2. CIN tie + BAL loss


Week 17 – at New England (7-8), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS

Week 18 – vs. New York Jets (7-8)

Miami clinches playoff berth with:

  1. MIA win + NYJ loss or tie OR

  2. MIA tie + NYJ loss + PIT loss or tie



Minnesota Vikings – NFC North division title

San Francisco 49ers – NFC West division title

Dallas Cowboys – playoff berth

Philadelphia Eagles – playoff berth


Week 17 – vs. Indianapolis (4-10-1), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS

Week 18 – at Philadelphia (13-2)

N.Y. Giants clinch playoff berth with:

  1. NYG win OR

  2. NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + WAS loss or tie


  3. NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + DET loss or tie OR

  4. NYG tie + WAS loss or tie + DET loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR

  5. SEA loss + WAS loss OR

  6. SEA loss + DET loss + GB loss or tie OR

  7. WAS loss + DET loss + GB loss


Week 17 – vs. New Orleans (6-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX

Week 18 – vs. N.Y. Giants (8-6-1)

Philadelphia clinches NFC East division title with:

  1. PHI win or tie


  2. DAL loss or tie

Philadelphia clinches homefield advantage and NFC’s lone first-round bye with:

  1. PHI win


  2. PHI tie + MIN loss or tie


  3. DAL loss or tie + MIN loss + SF loss or tie


Week 17 – vs. Carolina (6-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX

Week 18 – at Atlanta (5-10)

Tampa Bay clinches NFC South division title with:

  1. TB win


Week 17 – vs. Cleveland (6-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX

Week 18 – vs. Dallas (11-4)

Washington clinches playoff berth with:

  1. WAS win + SEA loss + DET loss + GB loss or tie

Brady on Bucs’ offense: ‘Our job is to go out there and score points, so we haven’t’

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers(2-1) suffered their first loss of the season as they fell to the Packers(2-1) 14-12 in Tampa Bay on Sunday. 

The talk all week was this possibly being the last matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but the defenses ruled the day as both teams combined for 26 points.

However, despite their offensive struggles, the Bucs almost sent it into overtime. Late in the game, the Buccaneers had an opportunity to tie the game on a two-point conversion after Brady connected with Russell Gage on a one-yard touchdown pass.

But, on the two-point conversion try, the Buccaneers got pushed back five yards after a delay of the game penalty. After the penalty was marked off, the Buccaneers attempted the play, but Packers LB De’Vondre Campbell deflected Brady’s pass, and the Packers held on.

After the game, Buccaneers head Todd Bowles discussed his reaction to the penalty.

“We got a delay of game, we didn’t get set up fast enough, and it’s something that can’t happen,” he said.

“It wasn’t just that moment; there were a few things that happened that we can’t let happen. We got six crucial penalties at different times that cost us the ball game –shooting ourselves in the foot to give us a chance to win. We know they’re a good football team – hats off to them, but we made some dumb mistakes ourselves.”

Brady, who completed 31-of-42 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown, said it was bad execution on the two-point conversion try.

“There’s a lot to it, so bad execution on offense at a time where we needed good execution, and we didn’t get it,” he said. “There was a lot of other times where we had a lot of other bad execution, and I think the reality is when you do that, you don’t have the opportunity to score points. There were too many plays where we were behind the sticks and not good on third down – penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities. Defense played great, we [have to] play better on offense – we [have to] do [much] better job – we haven’t scored many points all season, so three games, we [have to] get a lot better.”

In the first three games, Tampa Bay’s offense has struggled, and they have not scored over 20 points this season. Yes, not having Chris Godwin(hamstring), Julio Jones(knee), and Mike Evans(suspension) on the field against the Packers doesn’t help, but according to Brady, in the end, the team’s execution has to be better.

“Our job is to go out there and score points, so we haven’t – we’re just not doing it, but you’re not going to score points if we don’t execute well,” Brady said. “They did a better job than us. They have a good defense – a good physical defense. I give them a lot of credit. They forced us to make a lot of good plays, and we just didn’t do a great job on execution.”

Tampa Bay has to be better on offense. The defense got the job done as they held the Packers to 14 points, and on most days, that should be enough. However, because of Tampa Bay’s offense, it wasn’t enough.

Bucs’ Bowles reacts to Mike Evans’ suspension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been suspended without pay for one game for violations of the NFL unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, the league announced on Monday.

He will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ active roster on Monday, September 26, following the team’s September 25 game against Green Bay.

Evans was involved in an off-field scuffle with Saints corner Marshawn Lattimore in the Bucs’ 20-10 victory over the Saints on Sunday in New Orleans.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan, who issued the suspension, wrote the following letter to Evans explaining the suspension.

“After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines. When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints’ players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation. You knocked your opponent to the ground, and a melee ensued involving players from both teams. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”

After the suspension came down, Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles gave his thoughts on what happened.

“Yes, he’ll get one game,” Bowles said about Evans’ suspension. “I found out about 10 minutes ago. He’ll have a one-game suspension. Like I said, the fighting alone loses a player for the next game [and] it hurts our team because we lose a very good ballplayer. We don’t want that, we don’t condone it, and we’ve got to move forward and try to find a way to win without him. But that should be a lesson to all of our other players.”

Evans appeared to be defending Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, but according to Bowles, there’s a “right way” to stand up for your teammates.

“It’s always a fine line,” Bowles said. “This is a controlled-aggression game. It’s a controlled-aggression game, and you try to protect your teammates, but you’ve got to do it the right way.”

Bucs’ Bowles gets college degree while working full-time

Last week, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles completed his requirements for a bachelor of science in youth and community development from Mount St. Mary’s University.

Bowles began his studies in 2020 during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning season. The 58-year-old attended Temple University until 1985, before he entered the NFL.

Thirty-seven years later, Bowles finally came through on his promise to his mother.

“As a coach, I don’t think I can use it very much,” Bowles said about his degree. “As a father, it’s a good time to get it because I have a sophomore at Rutgers, and I have one that’s a senior now and one that’s in sixth grade. So, just getting that hopefully helps them get theirs, and they can do something with it. For me, it was a personal thing as far as a promise I made to my mother before she passed that I would go back and get it. Sometimes life gets in the way, and things come up, and you finally put your foot down, and you try and do it. So, it’s something that I just did.”

Bowles got his degree while working full-time as an NFL coach, which wasn’t easy.

“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Bowles said of working full-time and going to school. “I get to work early, do some work early, listen to some podcasts early, do some online stuff early, then do a little bit late and you make the best of it.”

While Bowles got his degree later in life, he recommends that people get their degrees as early as possible.

“I think you need to get [a degree] early as possible so you can do something with it – but at the same time, for the people that go back and get it, it’s a sense of personal accomplishment, and hopefully, it gives someone hope that it’s never too late,” Bowles said. “You’d rather get it earlier than later, but better to get it when you can.”

Bowles plans to attend the commencement ceremony in May 2023.

Bucs’ Brady: ‘Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me’

In March, Tom Brady decided to return for his 23rd season, and he told the world at the time that he had some “unfinished business.”

Brady, who has won seven Super Bowls and wants another one, will be 45 on August 3, so the time is now.

On Monday, Brady addressed the media for the first time during training camp and discussed his comments about unfinished business.

“We’re just going to do the best we can do,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of work between now [and then] – it’s August 1. There’s a lot of time. Nobody knows what the team is going to look like – you think you have a center, and then he gets injured, so the team is different in one day. There’s a long time between now and the first game.”

Over the past few seasons, the Buccaneers have grabbed some decent talent in free agency, and they recently signed seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. Brady has been around a long time, but according to him, he’s not always the reason players want to come to Tampa Bay.

“Naturally, I’m an older player, and I’ve been very fortunate to know a lot of guys,” he said. “Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me. We have a great organization, great teammates, and I think people are excited to come join a great group of people and great group of men. It’s never about one person – it has never been what this sport has been about. It’s the ultimate team sport, and I love playing with players that our professional, players that want to work hard, and players that put the team first.”

One thing that could cause some issues for Brady is the injury to Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who is expected to miss significant time due to a left knee injury. Without Jensen, Brady will have to count on second-year center Robert Hainsey.

“He’s worked really hard,” Brady said about Hainsey. “Obviously, everyone’s heartbroken with what happened, Ryan [Jensen]. So, that’ll take a little time, but ‘Haines’ (Robert Hainsey) has to step into the job and do a great job. He’s worked hard last year, really gained the trust with a lot of people, and he has to go earn it. Like all of us, it’s not what you did [or] how hard you worked in the offseason; it’s how good of a football player are you. It’s to be determined for all of us.”

The moment Brady announced his return was the moment the Bucs were all in on 2022. They finished their business in 2020, and they hope, with the help of Brady, to take care of their unfinished business in 2022.

Buccaneers sign TE Kyle Rudolph

For the first 10 seasons of his career, tight end Kyle Rudolph was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but for the second year in a row, Rudolph will be playing for another team.

On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Rudolph.

The 32-year-old is entering his 12th NFL season and spent last season with the New York Giants. He played in 16 games with 13 starts – missing the Nov. 28 victory against Philadelphia with an ankle injury – and caught 26 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown (a one-yarder at Kansas City).

He had a season-high four receptions vs. the Raiders and the Giants’ longest catch of the season, a 60-yarder against the Chargers in Los Angeles on Dec. 12.

Rudolph twice earned Pro Bowl honors (2012, 2017) as a member of the Vikings, and in 2016, set career single-season highs in receptions (83) and receiving yards (840) in 2016.

The former second-round pick (No. 43 overall) of the Vikings in the 2011 NFL Draft has appeared in 156 career games, including 145 starts, tallying 479 receptions for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns. Additionally, he has appeared in six postseason games, all starts, and recorded 16 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Since entering the league in 2011, Rudolph ranks fourth among tight ends in receiving touchdowns, eighth in receptions, eighth in yards after catch (2,124), ninth in receiving first downs (264), and 10th in receiving yards.

Rudolph should give the Buccaneers more depth at the tight end position after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski.

Brady: ‘We have high expectations for what we are trying to accomplish’

At the end of the 2021 season, rumors surfaced that Tom Brady may retire after 22 seasons, which he officially announced in February. 

However, he changed his mind in March and decided to return. On Thursday, the Buccaneers concluded Mandatory Minicamp, and Brady discussed many things, including his return to football, the possible return of Rob Gronkowski, rumors of joining the Dolphins, his relationship with Bruce Arians, upcoming 2022 NFL season.

(On his decision to return to football for another season)

“It feels like a long time ago. A lot has happened between now and then. It was just a lot of different things. It was awhile ago. I feel like I’ve kind of moved past that point to be honest. But I’m happy I’m back with my teammates. It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to work really hard. We have high expectations for what we are trying to accomplish. We’ve got a lot of good players – it doesn’t matter much – we’ve got to go out and do it. We’ve got to go earn it. We’ve got some competitive practices coming up. I’m most excited about this team and what we can try to accomplish.”

(On how he can improve his game in 2022 from his performance in 2021)

“In a lot of different ways. I think that’s a good question and it’s a good opportunity for us to all evaluate where we are at and what we need to do better. I always feel like there are things that can be improved on in different areas. I think how I evaluate myself and my teammates is very different than how other people would.”

(On the conversation with his family when he told them he was thinking of returning to football for another season)

“I think it’s really important. I said last week or two weeks ago – it’s very easy when you’re 25 to know what you want to do the next year. It’s very challenging when you’re 43 or 44 because there is a lot of other things that are pressing and a lot of other things that are really important in your life, like your kids and your wife and different relationships. Things have always taken a back seat to football – that’s just how it has gone for me. It’s challenging and I’ve just got to work at those things. It is part of what is challenging about things that happen in my life – just different decisions are made. I have a great life and I have zero complaints about it. I just try to do the best I can do. There are other significant, very important things that happen, and I think when the football season starts, everybody knows that it is 100 percent football. It’s just the way you have to be and it’s a big commitment to make. Then in order to play every game, you have to train really hard, so I’ve got to train really hard at 44 years old, which is a big commitment. To try to make those decisions has its challenges. It’s not like it was when I was 25. I don’t think any of us feel like we did when we were 25, but thankfully for good reasons there are parts where I am happy I’m not 25. Then there are other parts where I wish I felt like I was a little more like 25. I have a very complex, tricky life in different aspects and I’m just trying to navigate it the best way I can.”

(On the potential return of TE Rob Gronkowski)

“I think it’s just, obviously, totally up to him. We’d all love to play with him, but he’s got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that. Anybody that cares about him knows that he is doing what’s right for him, which is trying to figure it out. We don’t have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he has to do to figure it out. I think we will be hopeful if he does. And if he doesn’t, we’ve still got to go out there and figure out what to do.”

(On if the reports suggesting he and Arians had a strained relationship bothered him)

“See, I don’t read a lot of them. There are a lot of things that aren’t right that are said. I think the thing is – you try and come out and respond to everything that is not right [but] we don’t have to be right very often. We just have to be right every so often these days. I think if people click on it, then you read more of it, and obviously they’re clicking on it, so it’s what people want and what is talked about. It may not be accurate and that’s O.K. – I don’t make every pass either. I don’t complete every pass, so I understand not everyone can get it right all of the time.”

(On his relationship with Senior Advisor to the General Manager and former Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians and if there were any ‘substantive issues’ in their relationship)

“Zero whatsoever. He and I have a great relationship. I think that’s part of why I chose here was because of Bruce. He and I have been in incredible communication, and I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him, and that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”

(On if there is any truth to the reports that he was interested in joining the Miami Dolphins in any capacity)

“Again, I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I am done playing football. I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football. I think the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team. That has been my commitment to this team and organization. It’s been so much fun [since] I came here two years ago. It’s been almost two and a half years now, and it’s been an incredible part of my football journey. It’s not over – we’ve still got a lot to accomplish. I’ve got a long life ahead and there are a lot of fun things to do ahead. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in football. But at the same time, none of us are promised much beyond what we have now, and this is the current moment. I’m really excited about going out there and trying to compete and win a championship.”

Buccaneers sign DE Akiem Hicks

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks, the team announced Wednesday.

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, it’s a one-year deal worth $10 million.

The 32-year-old Hicks comes to Tampa Bay after spending the previous six seasons as a member of the Chicago Bears (2016-21), which included a 2018 Pro Bowl selection.

Last season, Hicks, who battled injuries, had 3.5 sacks in nine games.

During his time in Chicago, Hicks started all 77 games in which he played, recording 247 tackles (51 for loss), 88 quarterback hits, 31.0 sacks, eight passes defensed, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Since he joined the Bears in 2016, Hicks ranks fifth among interior defensive linemen in tackles for loss (51), seventh in quarterback hits (88) and eighth in sacks (31.0).

Originally a third-round selection (No. 89 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft, Hicks played for the Saints (2012-15) and the New England Patriots (2015) prior to signing with Chicago.

Over 138 career games, including 110 starts, Hicks has tallied 387 tackles (73 for loss), 111 quarterback hits, 40.5 sacks, nine passes defensed, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. He has appeared in six career postseason games, recording 20 tackles (two for loss), four quarterback hits and a half-sack.

With the addition of Hicks, Tampa Bay might be moving on from Ndamukong Suh, who currently is an unrestricted free agent after spending the last three seasons in Tampa.