UPDATE (Wednesday, 4:08 p.m.): ESPN reports Todd Bowles is on his way to Tampa Bay.
Not so fast on writing Todd Bowles’ name in as the next Buccaneers defensive coordinator.
One day after reports suggested Bowles would reunite with newly appointed Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, the NFL winds of change have Bowles considering joining the Bears staff instead. Bowles’ role on either staff would be defensive coordinator.
If Bowles goes with the Bears, will Arians place a call to Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher?
It is very apparent Arians, 66, wants to build a staff of familiar faces as he comes out of a one-year retirement.
Bowles was Arians’ defensive coordinator with the Cardinals in 2013-14, before he was hired as head coach of the Jets.
A Jets-bound Bowles was replaced by Bettcher, who coached the Cardinals defense to a top 10 ranking in three consecutive seasons before coming to the Giants last January, after Arians retired and the Cardinals hired defensive-minded Steve Wilks as head coach. Wilks already has been fired.
So, audibling from Bowles — if Bowles picks the Bears — to Bettcher is nothing new for Arians.
The Bears job came open Wednesday when Vic Fangio was hired as head coach of the Broncos, and it could interest Bowles who starred at Elizabeth High School when Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s father Bill was a coach there around 1980.
“I knew (James) was my heir apparent to Todd Bowles and I kind of groomed him to take that place,” Arians told NJ Advance Media in January 2018.
Arians actually recommended Bettcher as his replacement in Arizona on the way out the door.
“I thought he was more than ready to be a head coach and he’s one of the best young coordinators in the league,” Arians said.
One complication if this indeed is Arians’ back-up plan: Bettcher is believed to be under contract with the Giants, and in that case the Buccaneers would have to request permission for an interview on a lateral move. The exact terms of Bettcher’s deal are unknown.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur is high on Bettcher — he was his first assistant hired to his staff — so it is difficult to imagine Shurmur approving such a request. And Bettcher has not expressed any interest in leaving the Giants, who plan to upgrade their core defensive talent in the offseason.
“I’m all for guys advancing. I really don’t want to stand in anyone’s way,” Shurmur said after the season ended. “I’ll have some opinions as to whether it’s advancement or not. But, listen, I had ambition as a young coach. You gain experience and want to move forward.”
Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s job feels a little more secure after Wednesday’s moves in the coaching carousel because Kevin Stefanski — a protege of Shurmur’s — reportedly is returning to his job as Vikings offensive coordinator after interviewing to be Browns head coach.
Shurmur, who calls offensive plays, expressed an interest in having both his offensive and defensive coordinators return for a second season.
The Giants ranked No. 24 in total defense, No. 23 in passing defense, No. 20 in rushing defense and No. 24 in scoring defense in 2018.
“Part of the reason I was intrigued by James and wanted to bring him here is I competed against him and his style of defense, and I found it difficult to score against,” Shurmur said.
“When you are a coordinator, you try to work with the pieces you have and get the most out of them. I think he’s done that. Different place, different players. Every situation is different.”