Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich didn’t find a head coaching job in the offseason, but Urban Meyer’s off-field behavior could open a new door for Leftwich.
Meyer’s unseemly actions at a bar after Week 4 and the Jaguars’ 0-4 start has speculation swirling that the team will move on from him after this season. Leftwich’s name landed at the top of the list for prime candidates for the next Jaguars head coaching job, compiled by Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer.
The Bucs offensive coordinator since 2019, Leftwich has helped the team put up big numbers and big wins with a stellar offense over the past three seasons, including this one. Last season went particularly well with quarterback Tom Brady throwing for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns. The Bucs ranked second in yards per game at 384.1 and third in points per game at 30.8.
“Leftwich would be an awesome influence on (Trevor) Lawrence with all of his experience,” Iyer wrote. “It doesn’t hurt he can now boast about a Super Bowl ring.”
Iyer wasn’t alone in viewing Leftwich as a top candidate for the Jaguars. Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport proposed the idea in February that the Jaguars were one of the teams that could regret not waiting for Leftwich after Super Bowl LV.
Leftwich’s stock as a coaching candidate soared after the Bucs 31-9 beatdown of the Kansas City Chiefs as Davenport noted. Having played quarterback in the NFL also made Leftwich as a strong candidate — even stronger than Meyer, Davenport wrote.
Excitement over Meyer has faded quickly and interest in Leftwich moving three hours northeast to his old stomping grounds may make sense for 2022. Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr has Leftwich as a top candidate to at least coach somewhere else next year.
“Bruce Arians was livid that Leftwich didn’t receive any head coaching interviews last year and, like (Andy) Reid with Eric Bieniemy, has made it clear to those in need of a head coach that Leftwich was instrumental in the process,” Orr wrote.
Until then, Leftwich is focused on helping the Bucs offense propel the team on another run to the Super Bowl.
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Arians’ Strong Statement on No Calls for Leftwich
Arians said Leftwich not getting called by NFL teams was a “farce” according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
“I was very, very pissed that Byron didn’t at least get an interview this year,” Arians said per Stroud. “… I think I get way too much credit and so does Tom Brady for the job that Byron has done. Hopefully next year people will see that he took Jameis Winston and broke every single record here, scoring and passing, and now Tom has broken both. He’s done a fantastic job, he’s everything supposedly what people are looking for.”
Leftwich: ‘I Enjoy Working With This Group’
Leftwich doesn’t sound interested in going elsewhere, which he reiterated during the offseason at head coach Bruce Arians’ foundation benefit event in April.
“I am happy to be here with my group of guys that I work with,” Leftwich said per Stroud. “I am not trying to leave this group that I have. I enjoy working with this group of men. It’s an excellent group of men to come to work with every day, the way they come to work. As a coach, you beg and wish that you coach guys like this. So I’m in no rush to leave this group of men.”
Right now, Leftwich has the greatest quarterback ever and a slew of former Pro Bowlers to work with. Jacksonville and many other NFL teams don’t have pedigree or chemistry like the Bucs.