On a day that Buccaneer fans have been waiting for since mid-October, the team announced this week that offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and four assistant coaches had been relieved of their duties.
After Todd Bowles met with the Glazers team owners) along with GM Jason Licht, it was determined that a change was needed on offense.
The firings occurred as the coaches reported for meetings at One Buc Place Thursday morning.
The Byron Leftwich Offense Reached A New Low In 2022
Leftwich’s firing comes after a season in which the Buccaneers scored 198 points less than they did in 2021. The Buccaneers could only score over 30 points in just two games this season. A 41-31 loss to Kansas City and a 30-24 win over Carolina.
Leftwich has been the Buccaneer’s offensive coordinator since 2019 when Bruce Arians brought Leftwich on board from Arizona.
With Jameis Winston as a starting quarterback and Peyton Barber as the starting running back, the Buccaneer’s offense averaged 28 points a game, good for third place in the NFL In 2019. That was the year Winston set a Buccaneer record with 30 interceptions.
Tom Brady’s first season in Tampa in 2020 was the best offensive output of the Leftwich era, as the Buccaneer’s offense averaged 31 points a game.
In 2021, the Bucs averaged 30 points per game, and this season dropped to 18 points a game, 25th in the league.
In a statement by Todd Bowles, he thanked Leftwich and the offensive coaches for their hard work the past four seasons. “We appreciate the hard work and contributions that all of these coaches made to our success over the past four seasons. 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 to our football team going forward.”
In addition to finishing 25th in scoring offense, the Buccaneers also were last in the league in running the ball.
Buccaneers Finish Last Running The Ball
The Bucs averaged a paltry 76.1 yards per game on the ground and 2.23 yards after contact. Despite the ineptitude of the Buccaneer running game, they decided to bring back offensive line coach Joe Gilbert and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin for the 2023 season.
In addition to Leftwich, the Buccaneers also fired receivers coach Kevin Garver and specialists coach Chris Bonoi who worked exclusively with kicker Ryan Succop, running backs coach Todd McNair, and offensive quality control coach Jeff Kastl.
Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen and senior offensive assistant Rick Christophel announced their retirement.
Assistant defensive line Lori Locust was also let go in the purge, and outside linebackers coach Bob Sanders announced his retirement.
So, where do the Buccaneers go from here?
Coach Todd Bowles said this would not be a rebuild but more of a retooling.
Several names have been tossed around as potential candidates for the open offensive coordinator position.
Possible Replacements For Byron Leftwich
Bill O’Brien and former Buccaneer assistant Todd Monken are the leading candidates to replace Leftwich.
O’Brien served as Tom Brady’s offensive coordinator in New England from 2007-2011. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban.
Todd Monken is the offensive coordinator at Georgia and is coming off two back-to-back national championships.
While O’Brien and Monken are the top candidates, there are also a few other noteworthy candidates.
Frank Reich, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Reich was fired as head coach mid-season in Indianapolis but served as offensive coordinator of the Eagles Super Bowl team in 2017. He also had top ten offenses with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 and 2020.
Greg Roman. Roman is the former offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. He resigned from the Ravens on Thursday after another disappointing playoff exit.
Roman’s offense set an NFL single-season rushing record in 2019 with 3,216 yards. Granted, Lamar Jackson was a big part of that record, but Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins have all had above-average seasons running the ball with Roman as offensive coordinator.
If the Bucs want to establish a dominant running game, Greg Roman may be the man for the job.