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Buccaneers zeroing in on Bruce Arians as next head coach

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are nine days into its head coaching search and they seemingly have narrowed things down in the last 24 hours.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Buccaneers are edging ever closer to making former Arizona Cardinals’ lead man Bruce Arians as the franchise’s 12th head coach in team history. Arians, a 2-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year winner (2012, 2014), interviewed with the Buccaneers this past weekend, which fired up speculations that the former Arizona head coach would come out of retirement to take the Tampa Bay job.

The Buccaneers’ job, which remains one of seven head coaching vacancies still left it be filled after the Green Bay Packers tabbed Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur as its new lead man, became one of interest for Arians in a variety of ways. Playing a connect the dots, Arians worked with Buccaneers’ general manager Jason Licht in Arizona (2013) before the latter accepted his current role in Tampa Bay in 2014.

Another interesting connection between Arians and the Buccaneers is the presence of quarterback Jameis Winston, who during his middle school days attended passing camps held by Arians. Licht announced publicly in a press conference three days after the firing of former Buccaneers’ head coach Dirk Koetter, that the team named Winston the team’s starting quarterback heading into the 2019 season.

With the Buccaneers picking up Winston’s 5th-year team option at $20.9-million, Tampa Bay has made it be known throughout the coaching search that whomever accepts the job would be inheriting the 5th-year pivot from Florida State. Despite starting off his first four games tossing six touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Winston closed out the 2018 campaign solidly. Winston finished the season with 2,992 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a passer rating of 90.2.

Developing Winston remains the biggest priority for Tampa Bay, as Arians has a proven track record in working with quarterbacks and maximizing them to their fullest potential. Notable names Arians has worked with are Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. Arians compiled a record of 50-32-1 (.608 win percentage) during his time in Arizona.

Arians remains the front-runner for the Tampa Bay job, though the team has also interviewed three other potential candidates for the vacancy with current Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator George Edwards and Dallas Cowboys’ passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Kris Richard all having interviewed.

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