Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds reported that “the team is expected to fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich” after the playoff loss. The Bucs (8-10) scored fewer than 20 points for the 11th time in 18 games this season. Tampa Bay’s offense plummeted historically from more than 29 points per game over the past two seasons to 18.4 points per game for the regular season — the worst drop-off since the 1976 Buffalo Bills.
Reynolds wrote that Leftwich’s firing “has been anticipated by Pewter Report for some time” amid the Bucs’ offensive ineptitude with the greatest quarterback ever — Tom Brady. A seven-time Super Bowl winner, Brady experienced his first losing season ever as a starter and managed his second-lowest average for yards per pass attempt (6.4). He also averaged 9.6 yards per completion — his lowest ever as a full-time starter.
In a Pewter Report mailbag, Reynolds explained that Leftwich was “exposed as a bad play-caller without all of the Super Bowl talent” this season. The Bucs lost an All-Pro caliber wide receiver in Antonio Brown, who quit the team in January 2022. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet both retired after the 2021 season. Pro Bowl-caliber guard Alex Cappa left in free agency in March 2022, and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen sustained a season-long knee injury at training camp.
Leftwich couldn’t make the right personnel adjustments as the Bucs offense flatlined, especially in the running game, for the 2022 season. The Bucs finished last in rushing yards, average yards per carry, average yards per game, and rushing touchdowns.
Reynolds noted that Leftwich’s “predictability and lack of creativity as a play-caller” as a “big part of the offense’s problems” from 2022.
Bucs Considered Firing Byron Leftwich Sooner: Report
Leftwich made it through the season, but it really could have ended sooner, according to Reynolds.
“The Bucs okayed a plan to fire Leftwich at midseason — either after the [Baltimore] Ravens game on Thursday Night Football or after the bye week,” Reynolds noted.
Before that game, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles addressed a possible coaching change with the media after a 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on October 23. Bowles acknowledged “we’re not coaching it well all the way around” but said that he “would not consider changing coaching” at the time.
“Instead, Bowles decided to trust his defense and Brady’s heroics and hoped that Leftwich and the offensive staff could make some improvements along the way, which didn’t happen,” Reynolds wrote. “It’s likely that Bowles didn’t see a potential upgrade at play-caller on the current staff, which is why he stayed with Leftwich for the rest of the year.”
Bowles notably moved into the head coaching job in March 2022 after serving as the defensive coordinator for three seasons. As Reynolds noted, Bowles couldn’t make changes to the Bucs coaching staff that far into the offseason, and Leftwich had prior success under former head coach Bruce Arians.
Options for Bucs If Byron Leftwich Is Let Go
Two replacements for the next Bucs offensive coordinator, should they officially move on from Leftwich, have emerged among various team insiders.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Bucs have connections with Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Longtime sports writer and Bucs insider Ira Kaufman noted former Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken as an option. Monken serves as the offensive coordinator for the back-to-back national champion Georgia Bulldogs.
Reynolds likewise mentioned those two and floated Frank Reich as a possibility. The recent Indianapolis Colts head coach previously won a Super Bowl in 2018 as the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.