The Buccaneers captured Super Bowl LV in a convincing 31-9 win over the Chiefs. Headlines centered around Tom Brady and the offense. Behind those shadows was the real star in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. You’re not reading this wrong; he was the mastermind behind shutting down the high-powered Chiefs offense and not allowing them in the end zone. I originally thought the only thing that can keep Patrick Mahomes and company out of the end zone was big foot. Todd Bowles was the real Super Bowl MVP after managing to shut down Mahomes and company. This is the same man who struggled in an unfair situation with the Jets. When are the Jets going to not let coaches who haven’t peaked yet fly away? I personally believe in second chances and Todd has earned one to be a head coach again.
Prior to arriving in Tampa, the Buccaneers defense could not stop anyone. In the final year of the Dirk Koetter era, the defense finished 27th overall and had fired their defensive coordinator during that season. At one point during that season, they made Mitchell Trubisky look like a hall of famer when they faced him in Week Four. Aside from Lavonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul and promising youngster Vita Vea, the Buccaneers defense was essentially a ship without any cannons.
Bruce Arians was hired in 2019 and immediately brought in the then fired head coach Todd Bowles to lead his defense. Bowles went to work immediately to fix the defenseless Buccaneers. He flipped the scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and the team even drafted future impact players in Devin White, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamal Dean and signed Ndamukung Suh to help him.
Although the Bucs missed the playoffs for the 12th straight season, there was noticeable improvements to this vessel. Despite the issues that go with a scheme change, the team finished 7-9 overall, the defense jumped to 15th and saw the emergence of Shaq Barrett. Barrett registered 19.5 sacks and went from a rotation player with the Broncos to a full-time starter under Bowles tutelage. Barrett would go on to make his first Pro-Bowl and was voted to the All-Pro second team. Devin White and Lavonte David also started to come into their own as well. Bowles’ defense learned how to fire cannons.
Despite having no preseason or offseason programs due to COVID-19, the 2020 season is when the Bucs defense started to peak. The defense was even better than last year as they finished sixth in the entire league. Only the 49ers, Rams, Saints, Saints and Steelers finished better. Jason Pierre-Paul made the Pro Bowl and Devin White and Lavonte David were selected to the All-Pro second team. Rookie safety, Antoine Winfield Jr. thrived in Todd Bowles’ scheme and finished fourth in the defensive rookie of the year voting. These Bucs could now win any battle in the NFL seas.
The Super Bowl may be Bowles’s finest masterpiece. The Bucs made Mahomes have a game, limiting him to an empty 270 yards passing, no touchdowns and two interceptions. We even forgot Tyreek Hill was playing. He only had two catches for 13 yards in the first half! Hill would eventually finish the game with seven catches for 73 yards, most of it coming in garbage time.
This was the polar opposite from when these two teams met in Week 12 at Raymond James Stadium. When Bowles’s defense faced the Chiefs, Hill was like a magnet to the football as he gashed the Bucs for 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 Chiefs win. Hill went even as far to imitate the Shannon Sharpe phone call he was burning up the boat so much. Mahomes also lit up the Bucs like the Fourth of July for 462 yards and three touchdown passes.
Prior to the Super Bowl, nobody had every kept the Chiefs offense out of the end zone. During the regular and postseason, it seemed as though the Chiefs could score a touchdown anytime they felt like it. Todd Bowles clearly missed that as the Bucs became just the third team in Super Bowl history to not allow a touchdown.
In just two years, Bowles has resurrected the Bucs defense from the outhouse into a top ten defense. He also has developed Lavonte David, Devin White, Shaq Barrett and more into impact players. A football coaches job is to put their in the best position to be successful. In his two years with Tampa Bay, Todd Bowles has done that and more. Although he didn’t have a lot of success with the Jets, New York has only won nine games in two years since he left. I think Bowles has become a way better coach since coming to the Buccaneers. Look for plenty of owners and general managers looking for Todd Bowles to captain their pirate ships in 2022.