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Todd Bowles and Byron Leftwich, passed over for head-coaching jobs, opened eyes in Bucs' win

Frank Schwab
·4-min read

Byron Leftwich came to the podium for his postgame Zoom interview smoking a victory cigar after Super Bowl LV.

Proper recognition still eluded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator. First, he had to correct the moderator who called him “Bryan.” Then the first question was about how his defense shut down the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I think you got the wrong guy,” Leftwich said. “I had nothing to do with that. That was Todd.”

After Sunday, Leftwich and Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles shouldn’t be overlooked anymore.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awesome in dismantling the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Bowles’ defense in particular had one of the great all-time performances in holding down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense.

There might be some teams that are second-guessing their decision to not hire Leftwich or Bowles for their vacant head-coaching spots. Leftwich was asked if Super Bowl LV might change teams’ minds on hiring Black coaches.

“Probably not,” Leftwich said after a chuckle.

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Todd Bowles has a great game

The Buccaneers, who gave up 462 yards to Mahomes in a regular-season meeting, were much better defensively on Sunday.

The Chiefs didn’t get much of a run game going. The Buccaneers got pressure with their front four, and also sprinkled in some well-timed blitzes. For most of the game Tyreek Hill, who torched the Bucs in the first meeting, was a non-factor.

The Buccaneers didn’t let the Chiefs get anything behind them. Their talented front seven took care of the running game and the pass rush. It was a great plan.

Bowles said the Buccaneers mixed up coverages and disguised them. Bowles focused on taking away Mahomes’ first read, and if they could then Mahomes would have to hold the ball and the pass rush could pressure him.

“We worked hand in hand tonight,” Bowles said.

“We were able to take away things they like to do,” linebacker Lavonte David said.

The Buccaneers held down Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes their last three playoff games. They were all rematches from regular-season games. The adjustments Bowles made with the defense were remarkable.

If you could give Super Bowl MVP to an assistant coach, Bowles would have been a fine pick.

“Give credit to Todd for the job he did,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He got us.”

Will Bucs’ success lead to opportunities?

A big story through Super Bowl week was that once again, talented Black assistant coaches were overlooked for head-coaching jobs in the most recent hiring cycle. Most of that attention went to Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. While Bieniemy’s resume is greater than what happened Sunday, Bowles and Leftwich were the ones who took the spotlight in Super Bowl LV.

The Buccaneers, with Bowles, Leftwich and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, were the first team with three Black coordinators in a Super Bowl. It’s a historic staff.

“It shows we’re good at our jobs as coaches,” Bowles said. “It gives younger peopler inspiration hopefully to see us as coaches and see that we can be one of these kinds of people and if we put our mind to it, anything is possible.”

Bowles had the defensive game plan that will be talked about for a long time. Leftwich led a balanced attack that could have put up even more yards and points if the fourth quarter was competitive. While there were many standout performances, the job those two coordinators did stood out.

“Those guys deserve all the recognition,” David said. “They deserve all of the credit coming their way. Both sides of the football had great gameplans put together with Coach Bowles and Coach Leftwich. To be two African American guys to win a Super Bowl at a big stage during Black History Month, it’s going to be celebrated forever. I tip my hat off to those guys. They’re respectable men, great men and great football coaches. Sooner or later they’re going to be calling the shots. Those guys deserve it.”

Leftwich was asked again about if Super Bowl LV could lead to more opportunities for coaches like himself, Bowles and others.

“If it does it does. Hopefully so,” Leftwich said. “I just know me and Todd’s focus was doing what we needed to do to win the football game. To have this opportunity, to have three African American coordinators from the same team and find a way to win the Super Bowl, obviously it’ll open people’s eyes. But I can’t speak on if it changes anybody’s minds or changes any thoughts about the hiring process. All we can do is coach good football.”

They definitely did that in Super Bowl LV.

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