TAMPA — Following a losing season and one-and-done playoff appearance despite having Tom Brady at quarterback, the Bucs are making massive changes to Todd Bowles’ coaching staff.
Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and three other offensive assistants have been fired as well as two defensive assistants, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed Thursday morning. Among them is receivers coach Kevin Garver.
Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, 66, has decided to retire after 43 years in coaching.
The decision was made after Bowles met with members of the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, and general manager Jason Licht.
Bowles’ entire coaching staff that he inherited from Bruce Arians arrived to work Thursday for a staff meeting, unaware of the changes.
Tampa Bay ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards and rushing attempts while suffering one of the sharpest declines on offense in league history, going from 61 touchdowns in 2021 to only 31 in 2022.
Brady attempted a career-high 66 passes in Monday night’s 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in an NFC wild-card game, two shy of the league’s playoff record and the most in his 383 career games, including playoffs.
Leftwich, 43, joined the Bucs as offensive coordinator in 2019 as part of Bruce Arians’ original coaching staff. His firing comes after a season in which the Bucs scored 198 points less than they did in 2021.
The Bucs averaged more than 30 points per game under Leftwich during the 2020 season, when they won Super Bowl 55, and 2021, when they earned the first of consecutive NFC South titles.
Even with Jameis Winston at quarterback in 2019, the Bucs averaged 28.6 points per game.
But this season, Tampa Bay struggled just to average 18.2 points during the regular season. It only twice eclipsed 30 points, including a 41-31 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 2.
The Bucs will begin an immediate search for Leftwich’s replacement. Among the candidates are Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. The former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach was Brady’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for three seasons in New England.
Tampa Bay had discussions with O’Brien a year ago, when they believed Leftwich might be hired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken is a name to watch if he were to be willing to return to Tampa Bay in the same job he held calling plays for Dirk Koetter in 2018.
Bowles wasn’t promoted to head coach until March 30 and basically inherited Leftwich and the coaching staff from Arians, who retired to take a job as senior advisor to general manager Jason Licht.
Leftwich played quarterback with the Steelers when Arians was Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator and was a disciple of the “No Risk It, No Biscuit” offense that featured a wide-open, deep passing game.
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In his first season with the Bucs, Brady passed for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl championship.
He followed that up by leading the NFL with 5,316 passing yards, 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2021.
But under Leftwich, the Bucs never could produce any balance with the run game. In the past two regular seasons, Brady led the league with 719 and 733 passing attempts.
This story will be updated.
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