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Bucs fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich

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TAMPA — After a losing season and a single playoff appearance despite having Tom Brady at quarterback, the Bucs are making big changes to Todd Bowles’ coaching staff.

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and three other offensive assistants were fired, as were two defensive assistants, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed Thursday morning. They include receivers coach Kevin Garver and running backs coach Todd McNair.

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, 66, has decided to retire after 43 years as coach.

The decision came after Bowles met with members of the Bucs’ Glazer family and general manager Jason Licht.

Bowles’ entire coaching staff, which he inherited from Bruce Arians, arrived at work Thursday for a staff meeting, unaware of the changes.

Tampa Bay ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards and attempts, while suffering one of the steepest declines in offense in league history, going from 61 touchdowns in 2021 to just 31 in 2022.

Brady attempted a career-high 66 passes in Monday night’s 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in an NFC wild card game, two short of the league’s playoff record and the most in his 383 career games, including playoffs.

Leftwich, 43, joined the Bucs as offensive coordinator in 2019 as part of Bruce Arians’ original coaching staff. His firing comes after a season in which the Bucs scored 198 fewer points than they did in 2021.

The Bucs averaged over 30 points per game under Leftwich during the 2020 season, when they won Super Bowl 55, and 2021, when they won their first consecutive NFC South title.

Even with Jameis Winston at quarterback in 2019, the Bucs averaged 28.6 points per game.

But this season, Tampa Bay has only struggled to average 18.2 points during the regular season. Only twice has he eclipsed 30 points, including a 41-31 loss to Kansas City on October 2.

The Bucs will begin an immediate search for Leftwich’s replacement. Among the candidates is Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. The former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach was Brady’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for three seasons at New England.

Tampa Bay had discussions with O’Brien a year ago when they believed Leftwich could be hired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken is a name to watch if he’s willing to return to Tampa Bay in the same role he held under Dirk Koetter in 2018.

Bowles was not promoted to head coach until March 30, and essentially inherited Leftwich and the Arians coaching staff, who retired to take over as senior adviser to general manager Jason Licht.

Leftwich played halfback with the Steelers when Arians was Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator and was a disciple of the “No Risk It, No Biscuit” offense, which featured an open, deep passing game.

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In his first season with the Bucs, Brady passed for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as he led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl title.

He went on to lead the NFL with 5,316 yards, 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2021.

But under Leftwich, the Bucs never managed to produce any balance with the running game. In the last two regular seasons, Brady led the league with 719 and 733 passes.

This story will be updated.

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