Now that the 2022 Bucks season is over after Tampa Bay lost 31-14 to Dallas in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Pewter reports that the team is expected to fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
The Pewter Report had anticipated this move for some time. The Bucs offense produced 386 yards against Dallas, but only ran the ball for 52 yards as Tampa Bay trailed early and trailed 18-0 at halftime. Most importantly, Boss’ offense only produced 14 points after Dallas trailed, 24-0 in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay won the NFC South title despite averaging only 18.4 points per game in the regular season, which was the lowest in the division.
Todd Boles, who will return as the Bucks’ head coach in 2023, inherited Bruce Arians’ coaching staff when he stepped down on March 30 and hired Tampa Bay defensive coordinator as his replacement. Now, the Bulls will have the opportunity to make a change in play-caller after the Bucs offense ranks 25th in the NFL in scoring this year.
Facebook’s points per game fell hard under Leftwich
Leftwich has been the team’s play caller since the 2019 season when he worked with quarterback James Winston. Tom Brady replaced Winston at quarterback in 2020 and helped lead the Bucs to victory in Super Bowl LV. The Bucs averaged 30.8 points per game in 2020, which ranked second in the league.
Last year, Tampa Bay’s offense averaged 29.9 points per game, which also ranked second in the NFL, while the Bucs went 13-4 and won the NFC South title. But the team’s record is down about twice per game as the offense saw talent drop in 2022.
Pro Bowl guard Ali Marbet and future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen injured his knee on the second day of training camp. Antonio Brown, who has Hall of Fame credentials, resigned from the team late in the 2021 season.
But despite his lack of talent and numerous injuries at wide receiver and along the offensive line, Leftwich was unable to display enough creativity or make the necessary adjustments to overcome the shortcomings.
Poor play sequences, attacking predictability and some questionable use of personnel all doom Leftwich this season. Tampa Bay struggled on third downs and in the red zone, as well as running the ball. Bucs ground game ranked last in 2022, with a woeful average 76.9 yards per game, making it one of the worst rush attacks of all time.
The Bowles wanted players to run the ball better and more often in 2022. Instead, Brady led the NFL in pass attempts (733) and completions (490) for the second straight season.
The Bucs considered firing Leftwich during the season
The Bucs have agreed to a plan to fire Leftwich mid-season — either after the Ravens’ Thursday Night Football game or after their bye week. Instead, the Bulls decided to trust his defense and Brady’s heroics and hope Leftwich and the offensive staff could make some improvements along the way, which didn’t happen. It is likely that the Bulls did not see a potential playing promotion over the existing squad, which is why he stayed with Leftwich for the rest of the year.
Even if he wanted to make some changes in his playing caller and offensive coaching staff, the Bulls really couldn’t because of the timing of his promotion, which was two weeks into free agency. All the assistants the Bulls might have wanted to hire were either on an existing NFL coaching staff or committed to the college coaching staff.
Additionally, Leftwich was coming off two seasons in which the Bucs went 24-9 in the regular season and 5-1 in the postseason. Bowles would catch an incredible amount of shells for shooting Leftwich – even if he saw Bucks’ offense decline before anyone else did.
After two years of the Bucs scoring 30 points on a regular basis, Leftwich only scored 30 points or more twice in 2022. The first time was in Week 4 in a 41-31 loss against Kansas City, and the last time was in Week 17 when they beat Tampa Bay over Carolina, 30-24, to clinch the NFC South title.
Leftwich’s expected departure is not expected to have any bearing whatsoever on whether Brady returns to Tampa Bay in 2023.
There is a chance that Bowles will make additional changes to the offensive coaching staff in addition to letting Leftwich go.
Possible replacements for Leftwich at offensive coordinator include Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien (who used to be the Houston Texans’ coach) and former Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich.