In the days leading up to Super Bowl LV, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he was “very, very pissed” that offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich didn’t get any head coaching interviews at the end of the regular season.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did have a couple of conversations with teams, but didn’t get his second shot at a head coaching job after going 24-40 with the Jets in a four-year stint before joining Arians in Tampa for the 2019 season. The experiences of Bowles and Leftwich were part of a hiring cycle that left many, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, lamenting the lack of head coaching opportunities for minority candidates.
Bowles’ defense and Leftwich’s offense did a number on the Chiefs in Sunday’s 31-9 win and Leftwich was asked after the game if he thinks their success will result in teams focusing solely on a coach’s achievements. He said “probably not,” but expressed hope that the result of Super Bowl LV will open some eyes around the league.
“If it does, it does. Hopefully so,” Leftwich said. “Me and Todd were focused on what we needed to do to win the football game. To have this opportunity, to have three African-American coordinators on the same team and find a way to win the Super Bowl, obviously it will open people’s eyes, but I can’t speak on if it changes anyone’s mind or thoughts around the hiring process. All we can do is just coach football. All we are trying to do is help these men grow and be in the best position and be the best football players they can be. That’s our goal. Our goal is to help these players be at their best. Especially when you have these moments where you can grow. I still think we are getting better. I think a week from now, we will be getting better. Two weeks from now, we will be playing even better football. It’s exciting. I know it just happened, but I am excited about what we have coming back and what this team has become.”
With Bowles, Leftwich, special teams cooordinator Keith Armstrong, and the rest of the staff set to return, the Bucs are well positioned to build off this win in 2021. Doing so should make Leftwich a leading candidate for head coaching jobs, but Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s experience illustrates that being in the mix doesn’t mean you’ll land the position.