The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going through a lot of change already in 2023, as most expected.
Of all the moves made up to this point, the decision to fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is easily what stands out the most. The Buccaneers offense was a train wreck in 2022 and many figured Leftwich wouldn’t be in the picture once the season ended.
It’s the right move. Sure, the Buccaneers offense went through a lot of change on the offensive line and overall, injuries impacted the unit. At the same time, however, Leftwich showed a stark inability to rise above -or even maintain a slight grasp- the issues and assemble even an average unit.
Let’s just put it this way: Leftwich isn’t pulling off a Kyle Shanahan/Brock Purdy-type of situation anytime soon.
Naturally, the Buccaneers are in the hunt for a new OC. In the past, in-house guys like quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen and wide receivers coach Kevin Garver would’ve been considered replacements, but not anymore as Christensen has since retired and Garver was also let go a la Leftwich.
Meaning, the Buccaneers are likely going to bring in someone from the outside.
That’s honestly the best-case scenario. Because the Buccaneers need to completely uproot Bruce Arians’ philosophy and bring in a new way of doing things when it comes to scoring points.
Yes, the Buccaneers offense has been one of the league’s best when running Bruce Arians’ scheme, even when Jameis Winston was quarterbacking the unit back in 2019.
There were also plenty of faults, as well. Outside of the 2020 Super Bowl run, the running game was extremely inconsistent. Abundant opportunities for turnovers consistently existed due to the aggressive philosophy behind the offense.
Case in point: Winston led the NFL in interceptions in 2019 and Tom Brady, a player who is known for protecting the ball, threw 33 interceptions in three seasons. That’s the most Brady’s thrown in a three-season span since 2004-2006.
Penalties were also an issue on offense. Two of the last four seasons saw the Buccaneers finish in the top-10 of that category, including a fifth-place finish in 2022.
And, let’s be honest – the only thing that keeps Arians’ offenses from being mid, at best, is the aforementioned aggressiveness. This past year proved that if there are no explosive plays, there are no points.
The Arians offense is becoming more and more like the offenses of the past: drop back and throw, and win your 1-on-1s in the run game.
Sure Arians uses option routes in the passing game and he layers his routes and uses effective schemes, but, as a whole, there’s a lot that could be improved via new concepts and schemes.
And that’s why the end of Leftwich should mean the end of Brady in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers need to find a more modern-minded offensive coordinator that’s willing to utilize the creativity in today’s game. Brady’s skillset as a traditional pocket passer doesn’t fit the modern-day NFL. He’s as much of a statue than ever at this point in his career and if the Buccaneers bring him back, they’re going to pigeonhole themselves into finding an OC that runs a system that fits what Brady does best.
And, Brady is a year-to-year player at this point, anyway. Why would the Buccaneers settle for a short-term OC option when they need one for the long term? Making a decision such as that would add even more depth to the post-Brady hole they are going to have to dig themselves out of.
It’s always hard to say final goodbyes, but at the same time, it’s obvious the Brady-Buccaneers relationship has ran its course.
And while it’s always sad to see a successful story end, the next edition will be just as interesting.
Featured image via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports