Meet the Detroit Lions head coaching candidate: Todd Bowles is ready for a second chance

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions are in the midst of interviewing a wide range of candidates for both their head coach and general manager jobs. They began GM interviews in early December, and both searches are expected to wrap up in the coming weeks. As part of an ongoing series, here is a look at one known candidate on the Lions’ list:

Todd Bowles

Current role: Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator.

Background: The Bucs are headed into the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend, thanks in part to the NFL’s best rushing defense. Bowles has carte blanche over the unit, and he’s made his mark as an aggressive play caller who has the ear of his players. Before coming to Tampa in 2019, Bowles spent four seasons as New York Jets head coach after stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, among others. He also served a stint as interim head coach in Miami, and won a Super Bowl as a player with Washington. 

When interviewed: Jan. 12 (expected).

Why he makes sense: Bowles has been on the Lions’ radar as a coaching candidate since at least 2009, when he was a finalist for the job that went to Jim Schwartz. His experience is a plus, but hardly the only reason he has multiple interviews this week. (He met with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.) Bucs head coach Bruce Arians swears by Bowles, and it’s easy to see why with the improvements his unit has made. Bowles did not win enough in New York, but his teams always seemed to play hard, and as far the class of “retread” coaches go, he is as deserving as anyone of a second chance.

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Why he doesn’t: Bowles went just 24-40 in four seasons with the Jets — as hard as he got his players to play, his teams were not very good. The end of Bowles’ tenure in New York mirrored the end of Matt Patricia’s in Detroit in some ways, as both men, known for their defensive prowess as assistants, saw their defenses fall apart. The Jets gave up 82 points in their final two games under Bowles, squandered a handful of double-digit leads that season and allowed the second most points in franchise history. Because he is with a playoff team, he cannot interview in person or be hired until Tampa Bay’s season is done.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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