New Bucs coach has plans for fran­chise

The Bradenton Herald - - Front Page - BY ED­UARDO A. ENCINA

In his first press con­fer­ence as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Ari­ans promised he will do ev­ery­thing to un­cover the di­a­monds in the rough.

Part of that process will be en­list­ing a larger-than-nor­mal staff of like-minded as­sis­tants around him, a mix of ex­pe­ri­ence and po­ten­tial that shares his pas­sion for get­ting the best out of ev­ery player on the ros­ter.

Ari­ans promised that when his Bucs team holds its first ses­sion of off­sea­son train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, there will be play­ers tak­ing reps on two sep­a­rate fields. One field will have vet­eran play­ers work­ing on it, and the other will give younger play­ers the op­por­tu­nity to fight their way up the depth chart.

“We’ll have a staff that can take all our young play­ers and get those 40-45 reps that the vet­er­ans are get­ting,” Ari­ans said Thurs­day. “You can’t find a di­a­mond in the rough if he’s stand­ing on the side­line watch­ing. We don’t know if a rookie can re­ally learn if he only gets three reps. We’re go­ing to have those guys and we love young play­ers. I love vet­eran play­ers.”

Bucs gen­eral man­ager Ja­son Licht said the two-prac­tice con­cept is “mu­sic to my ears.”

“He’s ex­actly right,” Licht said. “To de­velop play­ers, you’ve got to give them more than six or seven reps.”

Re­turn­ing to NFL head coach­ing af­ter one sea­son away in the broad­cast booth, Ari­ans said he won’t be much dif­fer­ent than the coach who led Ari­zona to two post­sea­son trips in five years. His 2015 Car­di­nals were one win away from the Su­per Bowl.

Hav­ing spent two decades as NFL as­sis­tant, there are few who bet­ter re­al­ize the value of be­ing sur­rounded by a strong staff.

“Trust, loy­alty, re­spect is what we build ev­ery­thing on and it starts there,” Ari­ans said.

“When this staff comes to­gether, they ei­ther played for me, coached with me. … We’ve got his­tory. I think that’s very im­por­tant be­cause we’re all in it to­gether. It only takes one guy to have a dif­fer­ent agenda to split the whole thing up.”

Switch­ing the Bucs’ cur­rent 4-3 de­fen­sive scheme to a 3-4? Get­ting the most of of quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston? No prob­lem. Ari­ans is con­fi­dent he has the group to do it.

Ari­ans said he hopes to have his staff com­pletely as­sem­bled by next week. Al­ready, he’s hired his for­mer Car­di­nals de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Bowles, who was fired as Jets head coach at the end of the sea­son. He’s bring­ing in for­mer NFL quar­ter­back and Car­di­nals as­sis­tant By­ron Leftwich, 38 and just three years deep into his coach­ing re­sume, to be a full­time of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the first time. Leftwich, Jack­sonville’s first-round pick in 2003, went 0-3 as the Bucs’ start­ing quar­ter­back in 2009 be­fore be­ing benched.

Harold Good­win, Ari­ans’ for­mer OC and of­fen­sive line coach in Ari­zona who has been on staff with Ari­ans for most of the past 11 years, will be the run game co­or­di­na­tor and as­sis­tant head coach. The Los An­ge­les Times on Fri­day re­ported that Todd McNair, who played for the Chiefs and Oil­ers, would coach Tampa’s run­ning backs.

Spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Keith Arm­strong played for Ari­ans at Tem­ple when he was head coach there in the 1980s. Quar­ter­backs coach Clyde Chris­tensen was on Ari­ans’ Tem­ple staff and also with him

in In­di­anapo­lis.

“That’s one of the things that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing about this year,” Licht said.

“We have Todd Bowles, we have Harold Good­win, who I’ve in­ter­viewed be­fore and did an ex­cel­lent job. We have Keith Arm­strong, who has in­ter­viewed for head coach­ing jobs. Hav­ing that many minds is go­ing to help Bruce and it’s go­ing to help us.”

Ari­ans del­e­gates more now. He’s giv­ing Leftwich the play-call­ing du­ties, a task he’s long had. Pre­vi­ously, he let Good­win take more play-call­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, es­pe­cially af­ter the knock on him for head coach­ing jobs was that he didn’t have that ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I’ve been train­ing guys for this job,” Ari­ans said.

“I al­ways said I would never give it up and look over any­body’s shoul­der un­til I found one I knew could do it.

“Harold Good­win did it for me for a lit­tle while, but By­ron I think is ris­ing star in this busi­ness. … He’s more than ready. I think this coach­ing staff is go­ing to be out­stand­ing.”

Ari­ans wants to see not only his play­ers de­velop, but also his as­sis­tants. He wants them to have the op­por­tu­nity it took him so long to get. That’s noth­ing new.

So in some ways, Ari­ans is com­mit­ted to find­ing those di­a­monds in the rough on the field and on the side­line.

“I’ve al­ways felt it’s my job as a coach to get the next group of great coaches ready,” Ari­ans said.

“Co­or­di­na­tors push­ing to be head coaches have the next man, (Bowles’ DC re­place­ment in Ari­zona) James Bettcher was ready to take Todd’s place and push those guys out into the pub­lic and have the next peo­ple ready, then have the next guys ready to take their job.

“That’s one of the rea­sons we have a large staff. I feel very strongly that that’s one of my jobs.”

MON­ICA HERNDON Tampa Bay Times via TNS

“Trust, loy­alty, re­spect is what we build ev­ery­thing on and it starts there,” new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Ari­ans said Thurs­day in Tampa.

RALPH FRESO AP

The Car­di­nals pro­moted By­ron Leftwich from quar­ter­backs coach to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, hop­ing he could help de­velop rookie quar­ter­back Josh Rosen. Leftwich, a for­mer Tampa Bay quar­ter­back, was fired af­ter the sea­son and is ex­pected to re­join old boss Bruce Ari­ans with the Buccaneers.

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