The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the brink of a return to their first Super Bowl since the 2002 season, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has played a key role. Spearheaded by the arrival of Tom Brady, it appears the Buccaneers are peaking at the right time.
Brady has come from New England, and despite doubts, has overperformed. In Bruce Arians’ offense, Brady has thrown for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while completing 65.7 percent of his passes. At the age of 43, that is simply phenomenal.
While Brady and Arians are getting the credit for making their unorthodox marriage work, it appears we have forgotten one key cog in this machine: Byron Leftwich. You know, the offensive coordinator of the Buccaneers.
Why is he not getting credit for the Buccaneers’ offensive prowess? Better yet, why is he not getting any consideration for head coaching jobs?
Byron Leftwich earned his chops first by starting as an NFL quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars and became a backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, and the Buccaneers. After he retired in 2012, he returned to the NFL as a quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals under Arians in 2017. When Arians took the Bucs job in 2019, Leftwich was tapped to be the offensive coordinator.
So far this season, Leftwich’s offense has generated the fourth-most touchdowns this season with 64. Brady is also tied for second in the NFL with Russell Wilson, with both quarterbacks throwing 40 touchdowns. Leftwich has meshed well with someone of the caliber of Brady, which is never easy.
So again, why is Leftwich not getting credit? And also, why is he not being mentioned as a head coaching candidate. Let’s roll with two theories.
The first is that Leftwich does not have much coaching experience. As a coach, this is Leftwhich’s fourth year on the sidelines. While he has done a great job combining Brady’s precision with his and Arians’ aggressiveness, one successful season alone as a coordinator may not be enough to push him into coaching interviews. Besides, it could be a chance that NFL General Managers see this season as a Brady imprint.
The second theory: while controversial, as an African American man is writing this, I can state it is possible: he is a minority. Tony Dungy touched on how he felt NFL GM’s make excuses about not hiring African American coaches. Some could have great interviews, but some GM’s may not be comfortable internally hiring a black coach.
Byron Leftwich may be a coach who they are not comfortable interviewing As Dungy alluded to speaking about it, he does not field the stereotype as a loud coach due to his skin color. We may tiptoe around this matter, but it is what it is. Hopefully, this has not affected Leftwich.
If Leftwich can pilot Brady and the Bucs to the Super Bowl, win or not, he should deserve at least a look as a head coach. However, the only thing Leftwich can do is control what he can handle.
He can start by leading a winning offensive attack against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.