One of the most popular preseason predictions among national media pundits was that Todd Bowles would be among the head coaches fired after this season. A 3-1 start made those predictions look foolish, but things are back to looking rather grim after what happened on Sunday.
It wasn't just that the Bucs lost their fourth straight game, it was how it happened that has Bowles firmly on the hot seat.
Usually, it's the offense dragging the Bucs down, but this time around it was Bowles' defense that didn't hold up its end of the bargain. Despite a season-high 37 points, Tampa Bay's defense allowed 39 points, almost 500 yards through the air, and five touchdowns as C.J. Stroud set a new rookie passing record.
It was the final drive of the game that proved to be a backbreaker, as the Bucs gave up a 75-yard touchdown drive in less than 40 seconds to seal the team's fate. That's all on Bowles, who refused to make adjustments and ran the same quarters or super-soft 2-shell on every play without ever simulating pressure.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Bowles once again committed two truly bizarre clock management errors at the end of both halves. He chased whatever that weird field goal decision was last week by not calling a timeout before halftime to try and get the ball back for his offense. Just like he did before halftime against Atlanta, Bowles passed on the mere idea of potentially getting more points -- and both games were lost by three or fewer points.
It was his decision at the end of the game that had everyone scratching their heads. After a Trey Palmer fumble that was recovered by Mike Evans at the Texans 29-yard line, Bowles opted to take a timeout with 0:49 left to stop a ten-second runoff. Tampa Bay scored on the next play, but the decision left ten valuable seconds on the clock that Houston used to score a game-winning touchdown.
Had Bowles not called that timeout, it might have made the difference between the Texans being able to set up a game-winning touchdown and the clock bleeding out on them. It was eerily similar to the decision Bowles made against Atlanta, choosing to leave time on the clock rather than take as much off as possible.
Plenty of things went wrong for the Bucs in the loss, but Bowles deserves to wear this loss perhaps more than anyone else.