In Week One, Buccaneers special adviser to the General Manager Bruce Arians watched the game from General Manager Jason Licht’s booth. In Week Two, Arians was on the sidelines with Licht.
On Monday, coach Todd Bowles explained the presence of his former boss in the thick of his current workspace.
Via Greg Auman of TheAthletic.com, Bowles said the Saints didn’t give Licht a booth, relegating Licht and Arians to the sideline.
But it’s not as if the Bucs were frozen out. They had booth No. 6 on the 700 level of the stadium for the team’s coaches. Also, Buccaneers ownership had suite 403. Licht and Arians (and other members from Licht’s staff) could have watched the game from either place.
Also, per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Saints provided 18 seats in the press box for Tampa Bay personnel. Licht and Arians had reserved seats there, literally with their names on them.
Auman adds this observation: “Jason Licht and his staff have generally watched games from the sidelines for the past two seasons. There are a finite number of bench passes each team has for staff, and Arians has one. Nothing improper there.”
Arians’ presence on the sideline isn’t improper. What he did while he was there may have been. He put himself in the middle of the action. He was chirping to at least one official. He was close to the action that transpired between receiver Mike Evans and multiple Saints players.
Again, as long as he isn’t trying to tell Bowles what to do, the Bucs can benefit from having an agitator on the sidelines. But it’s fair for the NFL to assess whether Arians (or anyone else) who isn’t a player or a coach has encroached into areas where the person shouldn’t be.
Arians shouldn’t be in the thick of things. He shouldn’t be lobbying officials. He shouldn’t potentially be stirring up shit between Bucs players and Saints players.
And the league should create clear boundaries for what Arians can and can’t do, and where Arians can and can’t be.