Ex-Steelers QB Interviews for Bears Head Coaching Job

Ben Roethlisberger with Byron Leftwich

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Ben Roethlisberger #7 and Byron Leftwich #4 of the Pittsburgh Steelers joke during practice on October 15, 2010.

On Thursday January 20 the Chicago Bears revealed that they have interviewed Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich for the team’s head coaching job.

It’s the second NFL head coaching position for which Leftwich has interviewed in recent weeks. In December of last year, Jacksonville requested permission to interview Leftwich for its head coaching vacancy—and according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler—went on to conduct the interview on Friday January 7, 2022.

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Leftwich, who turned 42 earlier this month, is in his third season as offensive coordinator with the Buccaneers. As noted by ChicagoBears.com, “Tampa Bay has set franchise records for points and touchdowns in each of his three years with the team, scoring 458 points with 54 TDs in 2019, 492 points with 59 TDs in 2020 and 511 points with 63 TDs in 2021.”

In Leftwich’s first year as Tampa’s coordinator, quarterback Jameis Winston led the NFL in passing yards with 5,109. Last season the Bucs won the Super Bowl with Tom Brady at the controls. This coming Sunday, Leftwich and the Bucs host the Los Angeles Rams for the right to play in this year’s NFC Championship game.

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Byron Leftwich the ‘Favorite’ to Land Jacksonville’s Head Coaching Job?

Meanwhile there are some NFL observers who believe that Leftwich has emerged as the “favorite” to become the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That includes Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports, who says “the Jaguars need a coach who can work well with a young quarterback (like Trevor Lawrence), and Leftwich feels like a good fit for a team that is in the midst of a rebuild. Leftwich has gotten the most out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense with Jameis Winston and Tom Brady, as the Buccaneers are first in the NFL in points per game (29.8) and third in yards per game (396.1) since he became the offensive coordinator in 2019,” notes Kerr.

Leftwich Transitioned From Player to Coach With the Help of Bruce Arians

Never mind the fact that Leftwich has history with the Jags organization, as he was the franchise’s first-round pick in 2003 (No. 7 overall) out of Marshall.

He went on to play quarterback for the Jaguars for four seasons before spending the remainder of his playing career elsewhere, including two separate stints as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup in Pittsburgh. As such he knows what it’s like to be viewed as a franchise’s potential savior, but can also relate to the pros and cons of serving as a backup quarterback.

Leftwich finished his playing career in 2012, having posted a 24-26 career record as a starter. In terms of his passing stats, he completed 930 of 1,605 passes (57.9%) for 10,532 yards with 58 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions.

It was Bucs head coach Bruce Arians who gave Leftwich his start in coaching, bringing him on as an intern in 2016 while Arians was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. In 2017, Leftwich served as Arizona’s quarterbacks coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2018 before going to Tampa Bay with Arians in 2019.

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