In wake of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ugly 31-14 home playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys, rumors of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich not being retained surfaced pretty quickly. It’s been a trying year for the Buccaneers as a whole, but especially on offense, and many expect Leftwich to surface somewhere else during the 2023 season.
Head coach Todd Bowles, whose job seems safe will have to determine if Leftwich did enough to keep his job, but as of now he’s still the team’s OC.
During his Tuesday end of the year press conference, Bowles talked about Leftwich rather briefly.
“No there hasn’t been any decision,” Bowles said.
“We’re evaluating players,” he said. “We’ll meet as a coaching staff later in the week and I’ll meet with individual coaches as well as the staff — which we do every year — and we’ll make those assessments then. I don’t want to sit here and say we’re talking about things when I haven’t even talked things through with my coaches. We do our yearly assessment just like we do with the players.”
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 17, 2023
Offense Was Bad All Season, But So Was Team
From the beginning of the season, the Bucs were a mess, and it all began with Tom Brady’s 11-day hiatus during training camp, which was reportedly scheduled and given the green light by first-year head coach Todd Bowles.
That in itself was a sure signal that things could go awry quickly in Tampa. And that it did, as the offense minus tight end Rob, who retired, and speedster Antonio Brown who decided to walk off the field during a game last season was short on proven weaponry. Throw in the sudden retirement of one Pro Bowl offensive lineman and injuries to two others, and it wasn’t a good look for a now-45-year-old quarterback who needs help more than ever.
Point blank, the offense struggled all season to find continuity and consistency, it put a burden on Leftwich, who was considered a rising star on a way to a head coaching job just last season. Now his future in South Florida is being questioned.
Is it time for Tom Brady to hang up the cleats?
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) January 17, 2023
The Bucs finished last in rushing yards and attempts per game, and 25th in scoring, which is not exactly a recipe for success. And that all came to a head in Monday’s wild card loss, where Brady attempted 66 passes, just two shy of the playoff record set by former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a 2020 wild card loss to the Browns. It was the second-most attempts in the league behind the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes who attempted 68 passes in a Week 9 overtime win over the Titans.
Is Byron Leftwich to blame for Brady’s Struggles?
While Leftwich should be at fault for some of the offensive shortcomings, Brady, the 23-year veteran and seven-time Super Bowl winner looked his advanced age often, including Monday’s playoff loss. Then there’s Bowles, whose defense wasn’t always up to snuff itself, so in no way, shape or form is an 8-10 season all about offensive regression. But in this business, someone has to take the fall, and it could be Leftwich.
Pittsburgh Steelers Would Love B-Wich As Their OC
It’s no secret that the Steelers haven’t really been satisfied with current offensive coordinator Matt Canada. But head coach Mike Tomlin has made it known they’re not going to make any staff changes right away and will evaluate just as Bowles is doing in Tampa. But if Leftwich were to become available, it’d be hard not to take a flier on him. With Canada’s offense being considered too college-centric, and quarterback Kenny Pickett’s continued development being vital, Leftwich would be a better option for the Steelers offense, whose players called the current OC out multiple times during the season.
Steelers rumor: Mike Tomlin is waiting to see if Byron Leftwich gets fired before making a move on Matt Canada.
How would swapping out Leftwich for Canada make you feel?
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) January 16, 2023
Leftwich also has ties to the “Steel City,” having played as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger during Tomlin’s lone Super Bowl-winning season of 2008. So, the familiarity is there, and relationships go a long way in the NFL.