Steelers Urged to Reunite with Ex-QB to Help Kenny Pickett

Getty Kenny Pickett calls out adjustments

You’d have to be blind not to see that the Pittsburgh Steelers offense lacked punch in 2022. New quarterback or not, rookie quarterback or not, the unit was lackluster.

Okay. The two game-winning drives Kenny Pickett orchestrated were things of beauty. But how do you improve a vanilla offensive game plan by retaining the same coordinator (Matt Canada) who ran said offense? Mike Tomlin will have to figure that out — and quickly.

One solution could be to reunite Tomlin with one of his former quarterbacks, as Steelers Twitter is urging the team to consider.

Wouldn’t it be something?

The Rise of Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator for the past four seasons, was relieved of his duties on January 19, 2023. For three consecutive seasons, his units were in the top three under both Tom Brady and Jameis Winston.

Yet after one year of turmoil, Leftwich is shown the door. Personal drama followed Tom Brady throughout the 2022 season, the offensive line was depleted, and there was a head coach change. It was bound to be a rough season.

It’s a shot to the soul to get fired (it wasn’t his first time), but it could be the best thing for Leftwich. It’s all but official that Brady is leaving Tampa Bay, and the coaching staff reshuffled. Leftwich has escaped a burning building before it crumbles to the ground.

Pittsburgh could bring Leftwich in as a senior offensive assistant, as they did Brian Flores for the defense. For a former first-round pick (seventh overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars), he’s only had a modicum of success. Still, he’s played at the pro level and ran a Super Bowl championship offense. The Steelers’ young quarterback can learn from that.

One problem.

Leftwich, 43, won’t want to take a step back at this point in his career. In the coming days, there’ll be news that he’s interviewing for offensive coordinator and, potentially, head coaching positions.

In 2022, Leftwich was reportedly a frontrunner for the Jaguars’ head coach vacancy but removed his name from consideration, citing not wanting to work with general manager Trent Baakle. Instead, Doug Pederson was named head coach, and the rest is history. The Jaguars are facing the vaunted San Fransisco 49ers on Saturday, January 21, in the divisional playoff round and Leftwich is unemployed.

But it won’t be for long.

Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Thinks Highly of Byron Leftwich

If you ask Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Byron Leftwich was born to be a coach.

In his October 9, 2022 press conference previewing the upcoming matchup with the Buccaneers, Tomlin was asked what he saw in Leftwich during his time in Pittsburgh that put him on the “fast track” to offensive coordinator.

“You know when a guy has an aptitude to coach when you coach them,” Tomlin replied.

Tomlin coached Leftwich during the 2008 season and liked him so much that he brought him back in 2010 and 2012.

“I’ll just say this: I’m not surprised at all. He was always a global perspective dude. He could see from outside the helmet. He was a great idea guy. He’s a natural leader and communicator.”

That sounds like a Tomlin kinda guy.

After working as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 — coached then by former Steelers OC Bruce Arians — Leftwich worked his way up the ranks. He was promoted to offensive coordinator from quarterbacks coach in October 2018, only to be fired two months later when Arizona cleaned house.

Leftwich will wind up somewhere before too long. It’s doubtful it’ll be with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but this is the NFL where anything can happen.

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