The Buccaneers' vibe is still a bit confusing, unorthodox, and possibly more awkward than it was before.
Bruce Arians may no longer be the coach but he is still there. He is still at practice. He's around. He's looming. His title is generic, he is the senior advisor to the General Manager. His duties are not defined and his presence is obvious.
What will he do as a non-coach during what he claims would be his last year as head coach?
"Let's me stay and do the things I want and have a large hand in it," Arians stated last week via Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times.
Wait, what? It had a big hand. Arians realized that he might have said too much given the way he quickly retracted in the next breath.
Arians said, "It doesn’t look like a large hand, but it’s big to me because I’m here." "I'm on field, I'm coaching. . . . I'm going on practice, and will see small things. Then I'll go to [offensive Coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] to say, 'Look at that.'
It is unclear whether the input of the former coach will be listened to or if it will be considered only as a suggestion before being ignored. Arians' official title, senior adviser to General Manager, is even more unusual because he feels empowered to contribute. Why would he advise the coaching staff if he is the Senior Advisor to the General Manager?
What is his limit? It all depends on the extent to which the coaching staff allows it to go. Arians might eventually get the message if he suggests that they don't adopt. Maybe G.M. will hear it. Jason Licht suggested to Jason Licht that he tell the G.M. senior advisor. Keep advising the G.M.
So, the near future remains unknown. Also, the recent past is still uncertain. Stroud was able to hear more from Arians about the thought processes that led to Arians's shocking, late-March resignation. Arians would still be the coach even if quarterback Tom Brady didn't end his 40-day retirement.
Arians stated that he was not going to follow Brady's lead and said, "I was going in the opposite direction." "I was thinking that he wasn’t going to play. "I was wondering who we were going to get. Is there anyone who wants to trade? There was no one to draft. It was obvious. To the public, that was obvious. Blaine has won with a great team. If Tom hadn't returned, I would probably still be coaching. That would have been a terrible situation for Todd.
In a few words, Arians spoke volumes. Arians believes in Blaine Gabbert but Arians claims he wouldn't have offered Todd Bowles the "that situation" of Gabbert as his quarterback. Arians also ignores the fact that the Buccaneers would have found another veteran, regardless of whether it was Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo, Deshaun Watson, or anyone else.
It is possible that Arians was asked to step aside in the context of the talks that brought Brady back. Arians was expected to stay put until he left the league meetings prior to the NFC head coaches breakfast. Then, he abruptly was out via a carefully-engineered press release. This resulted in coexclusives for Sam Farmer, Peter King, and an official press release.
Take a look at this telling line from Stroud’s story about Arians's departure: "His son Jake spent several weeks coordinating and timing the announcement."
It was a slow, methodical process that was sparked by Brady's unretirement. Brady returned the following night. Someone told me that Arians was going to be next, but not because Arians would choose to do so. It was difficult to pin it down. Perhaps because Arians and the Buccaneers were so meticulous in crafting and selling a story that Arians willingly walked on the plank.
He's actually still on the plank. He's still shouting at the men steering the ship, making suggestions. They will they listen? They will act as if they don't understand him. Or will they finally take the sword out of its scabbard, and cut off the plank at the base?