Former Jets coach Todd Bowles heads to Super Bowl as Buccaneers beat Packers in NFC Championship

Garrett Stepien
·3 min read
Todd Bowles Buccaneers practice 2019
Todd Bowles Buccaneers practice 2019

For the first time as a coach, Todd Bowles is set to make an appearance in the Super Bowl. The former Jets head coach from 2015-18, currently a second-year defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is headed to Super Bowl LV after a 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

Bowles' defense yielded 381 total yards (314 passing, 67 rushing). The Bucs forced two turnovers -- a fumble and an interception -- while sacking Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times.

"I can't say enough about 'em," head coach Bruce Arians said of Bowles' defense. "They've been great in the fourth quarter all year and we got some great stops, took a couple chances on offense and tried to get more points and it didn't work out, but they came back and got the ball right back for us."

Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who totaled five tackles (two for loss) and three of Tampa Bay's five sacks plus four quarterback hurries, echoed Arians' sentiments.

"We knew that it's no better time to be great," Barrett said. "It's no better time to be the defense that we want to be than right now, so we just took the challenge. We knew our offense was going to do what they needed to do. And when we need help, they bail us out. When they need help, we bail them out. And that's why we're playing so good right now."

Jason Pierre-Paul, formerly a defensive end with the Giants from 2010-17, also starred for Bowles' unit.

"I think that with the guys that we have, and everything that went on today -- we never budged, we never flinched at all," Pierre-Paul said. "We just played tremendous football and look where we're at. It doesn't matter how many picks (quarterback) Tom (Brady) throws -- the defense got his back, and that's how we played. It doesn't matter. I feel like -- a group of brothers, when they're in sync, it's unstoppable."

Bowles joined Arians' staff after a four-year stint as the Jets' head coach, going 26-40 overall. Despite missing the playoffs, Bowles' 2015 debut resulted in a promising 10-6 season.

But things then declined for the Jets with consecutive 5-11 finishes before a 4-12 mark in 2018. Prior to his stint with the Jets, Bowles was previously a defensive coordinator from 2013-14 under Arians (2013-17) with the Arizona Cardinals.

Earlier in his coaching career, Bowles was a secondary coach for the Jets in 2000. A native of nearby Elizabeth, N.J., he played safety in the NFL from 1986-93. Bowles was a member of Washington's Super Bowl XXII team that recorded a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos.

The Buccaneers face the Kansas City Chiefs, who advanced with Sunday's 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills. Kansas City presents a battle between the NFL's top-ranked offense in the regular season at 415.8 total yards per game versus Bowles' No. 1 run defense in the league, one that surrendered 80.6 rushing yards on average.

Kickoff is set for Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.