After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV in February 2021, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich didn’t get a single interview for a head coaching job. But last month Tom Pelissero of NFL Network identified Leftwich as a good bet to land a head coaching position in 2022. And on Tuesday December 28, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars have requested permission to interview Leftwich for their head coaching vacancy, which was created when Urban Meyer was fired on December 15.
No word yet on whether the Buccaneers have granted permission. However, on Monday Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said he would “welcome” requests to interview Leftwich, not to mention defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Leftwich, 41, has been talked about as a strong candidate to replace Meyer, even if he won’t talk about the possibility himself.
On December 16 Leftwich walked out of a press conference when asked about the opening in Jacksonville, though he did so with a smile on his face, as you can see from the clip provided by Jenna Laine of ESPN.
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Byron Leftwich Was Jacksonville’s First-Round Pick in 2003
It’s only natural that Leftwich would be linked to the opening in Jacksonville. After all, he was the organization’s first-round draft choice in 2003 (No. 7 overall out of Marshall). He went on to play quarterback for the Jaguars for four years but wasn’t the franchise savior that Jacksonville was hoping for. He spent the remainder of his playing career as a backup, including two separate stints as Ben Roethlisberger’s understudy in Pittsburgh, plus one season each in both Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
Notably, Leftwich didn’t win a single start after leaving Jacksonville following the 2006 season. According to Pro Football Reference, he was 0-1 as the quarterback of record with the Steelers, 0-2 with the Falcons and 0-3 with the Buccaneers.
All told, he posted a 24-26 career record as a starter and completed 930 of 1,605 passes (57.9%) for 10,532 yards with 58 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions.
Leftwich Got His Coaching Career Underway in Arizona
Yet he clearly has the trust of Bruce Arians, who gave Leftwich his start in coaching in 2016, bringing him on as an intern while he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. In 2017, Leftwich served as Arizona’s quarterbacks coach and then added offensive coordinator to his title in 2018. In 2019, Leftwich went with Arians to Tampa Bay, where he has coached alongside a number of other former Steelers players. That includes ex-Steelers linebacker Larry Foote (who is Tampa Bay’s outside linebackers coach), as well as former Steelers offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley, who is in his first year as an offensive assistant, having suffered a career-ending neck injury late in the 2020 season.
In Leftwich’s first year as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator the Bucs went 7-9. Last season the Buccaneers added Tom Brady in free agency and won the Super Bowl after going 11-5 in the regular season. This year the Bucs are 11-4 and in first place in the NFC South, with games remaining at the New York Jets (4-11) and at home against the Carolina Panthers (5-10).
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, Leftwich is one of six coordinators that Jacksonville has requested to interview. The others are: the aforementioned Todd Bowles; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn; Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus; and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Per Goodbread, Pelissero reported the requests for Quinn, Eberflus and Hackett (as well as Leftwich), while NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the request for Moore, and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the request for Bowles.
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