“When I Think About Our Next Coach, That’s The Guy” | Making The Head Coaching Case For Byron Leftwich In Jacksonville

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The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a rare position of a total restart. With lengthy NFL coaching contracts, the cost outweighs the decision to unload an underperforming head coach for most NFL teams.

However, after many missteps, Jaguars owner Shad Khan removed Urban Meyer from the organization’s top coaching slot. Now sitting at 2-11, the team needs to identify who will replace Meyer, but there’s an obvious option: Byron Leftwich.

Making A Case For Leftwich

On Thursday, Jaguars legend Jimmy Smith told TMZ that Byron Leftwich is the perfect replacement.

Just hours after the Meyer firing, Smith revealed that he thinks the ex-Jags quarterback makes sense as the new Jags head coach.

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“When I think about our next coach,” Smith said, “that’s the guy.”

Smith cited Leftwich’s love for the franchise due to his ties at the beginning of his career. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Leftwich seventh overall in the 2003 NFL draft. He was a member of the Jaguars for four seasons before having one-season stints with the Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons.

The Left Switch

Smith knows more than most, as he caught passes from Leftwich during their careers as Jaguars.

Leftwich also played four non-consecutive seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger. He was also on the Super Bowl-winning team in Super Bowl XLIII.

“That’s a guy that, at this stage right now that we’re in as far as the franchise, you need a guy who’s going to love the city and love the fans and love the franchise,” said Smith. “I can’t think of a guy better than Byron Leftwich.”

Byron’s Way

In 2016, Leftwich went to the Arizona Cardinals as a coaching intern during training camp to help train quarterbacks. In under a year, he was hired by the Cardinals as their quarterbacks coach under head coach Bruce Arians, his offensive coordinator on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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After the Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in 2018, Leftwich was promoted to take over his role as interim offensive coordinator. However, by late 2018, Leftwich was fired by the Cardinals and head coach Steve Wilks.

Fortuitously, Leftwich was hired in 2019 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive coordinator. It reunited him with head coach Bruce Arians. After the end of the 2020 season the Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV after two seasons with Leftwich.

Just Trying To Win

However, with all the chatter surrounding Leftwich, the third-year OC dismissed the inquiries on Thursday.

“I’m just trying to win a division,” Leftwich said, per Bucs insider Rick Stroud.

The Buccaneers currently sit at 10-3 and are four games ahead of the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. Under Leftwich, the Bucs hold the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC and are coming off last year’s Super Bowl title.

In addition, Leftwich has transitioned Tom Brady and the Bucs offense into the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL. His offensive acumen has helped Tampa Bay log 410.2 yards and 31.5 points per game, making the Bucs a league leader.

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With Jaguars No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence needing assistance at the quarterback level, Leftwich’s credentials make him an excellent choice.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.