The NFL’s elite teams will be vying for a spot in the Super Bowl this weekend.
Imagine you’re a Clemson Tiger, fresh off your National-Championship win over Alabama, pulli…
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are far from one of those elite teams.
The Bucs last made a playoff appearance in January 2008. Jon Gruden was fired in 2009 and a decade of instability has followed. Since Gruden’s departure, Tampa Bay has been reduced to one of the bigger laughing stocks in pro football after siphoning through four different head coaches and going a combined 55-105 in that timeframe.
There’s nowhere to go but up for Tampa, and I believe its fortunes will change for one reason and one reason only: Bruce Charles Arians.
The Buccaneers introduced Arians at One Buc Place last Thursday, much to the chagrin of those hoping for the next Sean McVay to walk through those glass doors. But in all honesty, if the Bucs want to win now, general manager Jason Licht and the owners of the team, the Glazers, made the correct decision.
Arians has an impressive track record of turning losing teams into contenders, fast.
Well, in 2013, after leading the Indianapolis Colts as the interim head coach to a 9-3 record, complete with a playoff berth and AP Coach of the Year honors, Arians was hired by the Arizona Cardinals to turn around a team that won 18 combined games in the three seasons prior.
He led Arizona to a 10-win season that year, then to 11 in 2014, followed by 13 and an NFC Championship appearance in 2015.
There’s no denying the guy’s success in the NFL, and that’s hard to ignore when you’re a desperate organization that hasn’t sniffed a playoff appearance in over a decade.
He has been there before. With three Super Bowl appearances as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers under his belt, he has been a part of a stable franchise that knows how to get to the peak of the league.
That swagger he possesses was unmistakable at his introductory press conference on Thursday.
“I think we have the core here to win quickly,” Arians said. “I’m not about building, I’m about reloading. With that, I can’t say how excited I am to be a Tampa Bay Buc.”
Chills. As a Bucs fan, that should give you chills.
Arians is right — the Bucs have talent, and they’ve shown the ability to be great at times since their last playoff appearance. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay just hasn’t been able to shake the loser mentality. I think that all changes starting next season.
Many people are skeptical about Arians’ age despite the abundant success, and so was I, but the team did its due diligence by having him participate in a physical during the interview process.
“I’m ready,” Arians told Licht. “I may be 66, but I’m 66 and sexy, baby.”
It’s time for the Tampa Bay Bucs to become a sexy team to root for, once again.
Evan Lepak is a sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter @evanmplepak or contact him at [email protected].