Former Jets head coach Todd Bowles will join the Buccaneers — and not the Bears — as defensive coordinator, a source confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Bowles had emerged as a potential successor to Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who agreed to become the Broncos head coach.
Bowles is close with new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, for whom he coached in Arizona and played at Temple. On “The Rich Eisen Show” earlier Wednesday, Arians said the coach “is like a son to me.”
Bowles ultimately decided to stick with his mentor, a source said, despite the Bears’ vacancy being perhaps the most attractive in the league.
Bowles was perhaps the Bears’ top choice to replace Fangio. He played for Bears coach Matt Nagy’s father in high school and has been friends with the family ever since. Nagy’s father Bill was an assistant football coach at Elizabeth (N.J.) High School when Bowles starred there before graduating in 1981. Nagy’s uncle was his position coach. Nagy was only 3 when Bowles left for Temple, but he grew up hearing stories from his dad. Later, Nagy and Bowles worked together as Eagles assistants.
“I always remember, vividly, pulling in the first day of work in Philly and having our name plates for where we park right next to each other … ” Nagy said in October. “We had a great relationship in Philadelphia. I have so much respect for him — what he does defensively, but on top of that, too. I think he’s such a great human being. He does things the right way.”
Bowles, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator from 2013-14, interviewed with Bears general manager Ryan Pace for the head coaching job that went to John Fox. General manager Ryan Pace had been hired that same day, and walked into the interview.
“It was just kinda strange that it happened,” Bowles said in October. “But I’m glad I met him and we connected, and we get along pretty well.”
Bowles’ history with a 3-4 scheme would have fit the Bears, who boasted the league’s top defense last year.