The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face uncertainty at quarterback. The Buccaneers also face uncertainty with just how good their offensive coordinator is.
Let’s just get this out of the way early. Byron Leftwich is a DARN good coach and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are beyond lucky to have him. The issue is not IF Leftwich is a good coach, it’s just HOW good the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator is.
Tom Brady is probably the only quarterback since Peyton Manning to have the reputation of being his own offensive coordinator, leaving the coach that holds the actual title as obsolete in the eyes of many NFL fans. Back in the day, quarterbacks used to call their own plays, and it’s honestly a marvel that this doesn’t get talked about more, but that’s a discussion for another day. While rendering the offensive coordinator, and Leftwich in particular, as insignificant is ridiculous, it’s just a testament to the greatness of these quarterbacks. Brady is now retired (as of this writing) and now it’s Byron’s time to shine.
Leftwich has worked hard to get to where he is at and has earned every bit of success he has achieved. Bruce Arians has taken him under his wing, leaving many to wonder if Leftwich is possibly being groomed to be his successor as Buccaneers’ head coach. He already turned down the Jacksonville Jaguars job, the team that drafted him, so it’s easy to connect those dots.
He has progressively gotten more responsibilities as offensive coordinator, with Arians bestowing Leftwich with game-planning and playcalling duties, allowing himself to be more of a supervisor. It was already easy to spot the wrinkles in the offensive scheme, such as putting more emphasis on establishing the run, and not as much of the “no risk it, no biscuit” approach (or “chuck and duck” depending on who you ask) of Arians.
The Bucs have sailed to successful seas with Leftwich, and while it’s easy to give the bulk of the credit to Brady, there’s a reason Brady trusts Leftwich so much and speaks of him in high regard. With Brady out of the picture and the potential successors a mystery, more eyes will be on Leftwich than ever.
Sure, the Buccaneers may bring in an established veteran, helping Leftwich out a little bit, but nobody is Tom Brady. There’s also the incredibly realistic scenario that Kyle Trask ends up taking over as the starting quarterback of the Bucs, in which case any success or failure of the former second-round pick will be attributed to Leftwich. That’ll be the case with just about anyone the Bucs choose to be their next quarterback, but it will be exacerbated with Trask. Leftwich, Arians, and the rest of the organization are clearly high on Trask, and reportedly prefer him to any incoming rookie in this draft class, so this scenario is highly likely to happen. There’s a reason they drafted him where they did after all.
At the end of the day, Leftwich is going to be watched under a much larger microscope this season. It is incredibly likely that this season will be something of an audition for his imminent first head coaching gig, and that gig very likely may come in Tampa Bay. We already know Bryon Leftwich is a good coach, we’re about to find out just HOW good.