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Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles: 'We're not changing the program, we're trying to add on'

Todd Bowles ended last week as the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By the time Wednesday arrived, he was preparing to take the second head-coaching job of his career.

The Buccaneers introduced Bowles as head coach on Thursday in a press conference that began with a farewell to Bruce Arians, who is off to a front-office role within the organization and was intent on Bowles replacing him.

Bowles has a tall task ahead of him: replace the coach who brought Tampa its second Super Bowl title in franchise history. Fortunately for Bowles, he played a significant role in winning Super Bowl LV.

"We're not changing the program, we're trying to add on," Bowles said.

Bowles has head coaching experience, but it isn't exactly a sparkling endorsement as he takes the same role for the second time in his career. Bowles manned the sideline as the head coach of the New York Jets from 2015 to '18, helping the Jets nearly reach the playoffs with a 10-6 record in his first season before New York entered a stretch of struggles that included two 5-11 seasons and a 4-12 campaign in 2018, after which he was fired.

Despite the difficulties, that time was valuable to Bowles, who said Thursday he learned how to "wear many hats" as a head coach and will lean on that experience with the Buccaneers.

"You just have to move on to the next week," Bowles told NFL Network's Sara Walsh. "I think every week is a grind. You don't carry the game with you from week in and week out. I feel I did that a little bit in New York.

"Coming here with the people I've been around and understanding what I've come from and how I've been coaching, it kind of changed the way I saw things and the way I coached. I think this will help me the second time around."

Bowles will again shift from being a defensive coordinator to a head coach, two jobs with different responsibilities. That doesn't mean he'll be handing off his old duties to someone else; Bowles confirmed Thursday he will continue to call the defense in 2022.

Bowles said Thursday his background shouldn't elicit any worries about his ability to effectively perform his new duties. Remember, he has been here before.

"I don't consider myself a defensive-minded coach when I become a head coach. I am a head coach of the entire team," Bowles said. "There will be situational football, and me and Byron will talk about third-and-1s, two-minute, end (of) the ball game. You become a head coach, and I think there's this thing going around that defensive coaches can't be head coaches, because you don't see them, and I think it's quite the contrary. Obviously (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick is an outstanding head coach, and we have a few in this league that are very good head coaches. And if you look back at the Super Bowls ... you can go back years and years and see successes of defensive head coaches winning Super Bowls and being very good coaches.

"But it's a phase in the NFL, people get caught up in the moment, but there are good football coaches on both sides of the ball, and I think we've got to make that a little more fair, and a little more even, and the only way we can do that is to try and stop people, and that's what we're going to try and do."

Bowles is still processing the change, which came suddenly and seemingly with a sense of urgency on the part of Arians to ensure Bowles would be the one to replace him. After all, Bowles had attracted interest for other head-coaching vacancies earlier in 2022, but hadn't landed another job.

Arians informed Bowles of the change on Monday, guaranteeing Bowles wouldn't leave Tampa.

"It's been up and down. It's a new job, but it's an old job," Bowles explained to Walsh. "You come into the building and everything's the same. You don't have to hire a staff and you know everyone in the building, but at the same time, you're now the head guy. So it took about a day, 24 hours, to digest, so I'm great now. After talking with the Glazers and talking with (general manager) Jason (Licht) and talking with Bruce (Arians), I feel great."

The bright side: Tampa is focused on winning now and has the roster to do so. This isn't the rebuilding Jets, and it isn't Bowles' first rodeo.

It will also mean Bowles will spend his weeks preparing alongside legendary quarterback Tom Brady instead of spending the week watching Brady carve up his defense in practice.

"Oh, it's always great to have him under center, finally I get to play with him instead of against him," Bowles said. "Even though he's not beating my head in, we'll have some spirited practices. We had some great conversations, I think the world of the guy, I think we're more alike that you could ever know on the scenes, even though it doesn't look like it on the surface.

"He's probably a little bit more chill that I am, so I've got to find a new thing other than that, too, because Bruce took cool, and Tom took chill, but I've got to find my niche in this whole thing without being a jerk about it. So, I'm going to look for that and try to find that any way I can find it."

Chill, cool or sarcastic -- Bowles claimed the latter Thursday -- none of that will matter if Bowles' second head-coaching opportunity doesn't produce wins. The Buccaneers have stacked plenty of them in the last two seasons and will expect nothing less, no matter who is manning the sideline.

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