NFL: Buccaneers fire OC Byron Leftwich, slew of others

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was fired Thursday after four seasons with Tampa Bay, one of nine assistants who either were terminated or chose to retire.

In announcing the moves, the Bucs said they “initiated a shakeup of their coaching staff.”

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The assistant coaches fired Thursday: Wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, running backs coach Todd McNair, specialists coach Chris Boniol, offensive quality control coach Jeff Kastl and assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust, who had been the only female assistant in the league.

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, senior offensive assistant Rick Christophel and outside linebackers coach Bob Sanders all “decided to retire,” per the team.

“We appreciate the hard work and contributions that all of these coaches made to our successes over the past four seasons,” head coach Todd Bowles said in a statement. “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.”

Leftwich was put in place by former head coach Bruce Arians in 2019 and took over play-calling duties in 2021 as part of a heavy collaboration with quarterback Tom Brady.

But Bowles admitted he felt his influence over the offense was limited and said Monday night following a 31-14 home playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys that he had “no decision” on Leftwich’s future.

The 45-year-old Brady is a free agent in March.

Leftwich faced increased scrutiny over the 32nd-ranked running game (76.9 yards per game). Tampa Bay finished 8-9 in the regular season and reached the playoffs courtesy of winning the woeful NFC South.

But the Bucs ranked 15th in the NFL in total offense at 346.7 yards per game, throwing the ball a league-high 44.2 times per game.

Bowles said Monday that Leftwich’s performance would be evaluated in much the same way as every player and coach in the organization.

Leftwich was believed to be a front-runner for the Jaguars’ head-coaching vacancy in February 2021 before pulling his name from consideration. He also interviewed with the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay’s offense dropped from 61 touchdowns in 2021 to only 31 during the 2022 regular season. The Bucs then fell behind 24-0 to the Cowboys in a game that wasn’t even as close as the lopsided score.

The organization could undergo a number of changes this offseason, with the biggest question being the future of Brady. But Bowles said he does not envision a rebuilding project while declining to speculate on whether there would be changes among his coaching staff.

“I will meet with the staff at the end of the week, and we’ll talk about everything then,” he said Monday. “I don’t want to sit here and say we are talking about things when I haven’t even talked over things with my coaches.

“We do our yearly assessment just like we do with the players.”

–Field Level Media

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