The Detroit Lions are expecting to wrap their first wave of head coaching interviews next week, but before they do, they’re looking to add another name to the list — Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
The Lions have put in a formal request to talk to Bowles, according to the NFL Network.
Bowles, 57, has an extensive resume that includes parts of five seasons working as a head coach. He served as the interim coach in 2011, going 2-1 in three games after the team fired Tony Sparano.
After a successful stint as the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, including winning assistant coach of the year, the New York Jets hired Bowles to coach the team in 2015. But after going 10-6 his first season, the franchise won five, five and four games the next three years.
Last month, Bowles told CBS Sports he’ll be more selective with his next opportunity.
“If the situation’s not right… if it’s not a match, I won’t take it to take it,” Bowles said.
After being fired by the Jets, Bowles joined Tampa Bay, reconnected him with coach Bruce Arians, who he worked under in Arizona.
Interestingly, Bowles previously interviewed with the Lions in 2009, a job that eventually went to Jim Schwartz. During that hiring cycle, the Lions made each candidate available to the media after their interview with the team. And while the situations are different, given the Lions were coming off an 0-16 season that year, there are also some similarities with the franchise once again stuck in a rut, culturally.
Bowles, who was in Miami when the team went from 1-15 to 11-5 in one year, spoke about how the experience provided him with an understanding of how to orchestrate a quick turnaround.
“The blueprint we have is to change the culture,” Bowles said after interviewing in 2009. “The first thing you have to do is condition. You have to condition the players mentally. They have to buy into the system. The second part is emotionally, you’ve got to get them to forget about 1-15 or 0-16.
“…When you’re 1-15, mentally, you’re damaged,” Bowles said. “I don’t care how you slice it. Between the media, you losing every week and your neighbors calling you losers, you’re damaged mentally. You’ve got to get past that mental part, and you have to get down to work and you have to give them a goal to shoot for and that’s winning the NFC North.”
Bowles runs a 3-4 defensive scheme that is often blitz-heavy. That could allow the Lions to salvage more pieces of their struggling defense. In 2020, the Buccaneers finished in the top-10 in both yards and points allowed.
If Bowles interviews after the Buccaneers wild card game this weekend, he would join a solid list of candidates that includes Robert Salah, Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis and interim coach Darrell Bevell. Dan Campbell and Arthur Smith are scheduled for next week.