The honeymoon of the Bruce Arians Era with the Buccaneers truly seems to be over in Tampa Bay, and the vast uncertainty of the future looks bleaker than it ever has.
After one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history — if not arguably the single most disappointing given the context and talent — another crack in the once-promising facade has formed, and it might be the one that takes everything down.
Tom Brady’s future with the team is chalking that can hold everything together and perhaps repair much of the damage. But if he leaves this offseason, he might not be the only figurehead from the Super Bowl season to exit. Former head coach Bruce Arians is reportedly “unhappy” with the Buccaneers and feel “hurt” after the team fired Byron Leftwich and a handful of his other former assistant coaches.
Arians was never one to mince words or beat around the bush, so his reaction to the firing should be taken with that context. He’s going to tell it straight, regardless of how it might come across, but it’s not hard for fans who are already uneasy about the team’s future to read into his comments.
Bucs insider Rick Stroud sat down with WDAE Radio this week and gave some insight into how Arians handled the news that some of his assistants were fired after the season.
To put it as politely as possible, he was most displeased.
Bruce Arians has harsh words for Buccaneers after firing Byron Leftwich
“Not happy. Very unhappy. Extremely unhappy,” Stroud said.
There’s a sense that Arians feels betrayed by the moves. Stroud goes on to mention that Arians wanted to set his assistants up for years of success and not put them in a position where they’d be forced to walk the plank after one bad season.
As we saw this past year, that’s much easier said than done.
"“Having had some interaction with him about it … he’s disappointed. You know, he’s disappointed. I guess that’s the biggest thing. You know, he wanted Todd to have this opportunity. He wanted to keep this staff together. He wanted these [coaching] families to be together; many of them have another year on their contracts. Many of them thought they would be here as long as Todd is the head coach, were told as much, and that’s not the case. And so he’s hurt by it. I don’t know if you’re going to see him around much next year.”"
There’s another wrinkle here that needs to be ironed out: It’s unclear what Arians role with the franchise will be moving forward.
He stepped back from coaching duties almost a year ago to take an advisory role, but it’s unclear how much say he had in anything that went on this year.
Bucs fans will be quick to assume he had little to do with the disaster that happened, as his absence was felt more than anyone anticipated. It’s clear, however, that Arians held little sway in decisions the front office and ownership made to move on from guys that Arians probably would have given another year to.
It’s easy for already anxious Bucs fans to speculate — this one included — that a final split between the franchise and Arians is near. It all depends on how active he is this offseason in not only advising the team and Todd Bowles, but how much of his input is applied.
Whenever stuff like this pops up, it seems to signal the end of the line. Hopefully, that’s not the case, but times appear to be darker in Tampa than they’ve been in a very long time.