Update, 2:30 p.m.: Todd Bowles, apparently, will indeed be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator:
Buccaneers just worked out off-set language on Todd Bowles' contract with the Jets, and so Tampa Bay does have the new defensive coordinator it expected to land, per @mortreport.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2019
*Original story is below*
Bruce Arians talked on the radio as if Todd Bowles had already agreed to be his defensive coordinator. A radio host in Kansas City tweeted that Bowles had agreed to be the Bears’ next defensive coordinator. #BowlesWatch officially became a thing barely two hours after the Broncos reportedly made their decision to hire Vic Fangio away from Chicago.
The Bears are indeed considering Bowles to replace Fangio as their defensive coordinator, and Bowles does appear to be considering the Bears instead of the Bucs:
The allure of the Bears is easy to see for Bowles: This was the league’s best defense in 2018, one stocked with loads of talent in every unit. He’s also friends with not only Matt Nagy, but the Nagy family — Nagy’s father and uncle coached Bowles in high school. Bowles and Nagy, too, coached together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.
For the Bears, though, Bowles would be a fantastic replacement for Fangio. It starts with the head coach’s trust in him, and that he’d be a natural fit for the kind of culture built over the last year at Halas Hall.
“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,” Nagy said in October. “He does things the right way. He treats people the right way. I like how he does things.”
Bowles’ defenses with the Jets regressed over time, going from No. 5 in defensive DVOA in 2015 to 21st, 18th and 21st from 2016-2018. Those Jets defenses had talent, like safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams, but not close to the across-the-board talent possessed by the Bears.
But while Bowles was the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator — under Arians — in 2013 and 2014, his defenses ranked No. 2 and No. 7 in DVOA. The Cardinals ranked seventh and fifth in points allowed per game in those two years, too, pairing efficiency with success on the scoreboard.
A thought here is that Bowles could be the ideal candidate to help this Bears’ defense avoid stagnating, or regressing significantly, with the loss of Fangio. He’s an aggressive, attack-oriented defensive mind and former defensive back who’s adept at scheming and calling blitzes, as Nagy explained last year.
“They’re an aggressive defense,” Nagy said. “They like to bring pressure. That hasn’t changed with Todd. He’s always been that way. He picks and chooses when to do it. He knows good times to do it and then he’s got good players too that he can use with that.”
The prospect of Bowles figuring out different ways to use Khalil Mack with a full offseason of OTAs and training camp is surely tantalizing around Halas Hall. A former safety, he did some good things with Adams in New York and could help boost the play of All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson, though he’s a different, more rangy player than Adams.
Bowles’ base scheme is 3-4, so he’s a good fit for the personnel the Bears already have in place (like defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who signed a four-year extension in September).
The ball, seemingly, is in Bowles’ court with interest from both Tampa Bay and Chicago. The Bears will have other quality options if Bowles does wind up re-uniting with Arians, but if Nagy is able to convince him to join him at Halas Hall, it would surely soften the blow of Fangio’s departure.