The Apprentice

January 15th, 2019

New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich got his feet wet into playcalling in an atypical manner.

That’s his mentor, Bucco Bruce Arians, always crafty when it comes to development on the money side of the football.

When Leftwich was promoted to Cardinals offensive coordinator midway through last season, Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic penned a cool feature on Leftwich’s ascent from the golf course to the playcaller role in just two years.

He was recruited off the links by Arians to be a coaching intern back in 2016. A year later, his mentor was dropping major tests in his lap.

Under Arians, Leftwich was able to call the plays in two preseason games. Each time, Arians only gave him the heads up the night before, hoping that instincts would take over.

He saw Leftwich’s instincts as a player, first “as an adversary,” and then on the same sideline, when Arians was an offensive coordinator with the Steelers.

“Gosh, he just had that ‘it-factor’ as far as a leader,” Arians said on Leftwich. “A really, really bright player. Did a great job of learning our offense.”

So now Leftwich gets his shot with a veteran-laden offense and a full offseason to acclimate and set the tone.

And like nearly everyone on the Bucs’ new staff, he’s an Arians loyalist to his core.

“B.A., he’s the reason I’m here,” Leftwich said. “He gave me the opportunity, and once I saw it, I fell in love with it. He knew the way I cared about football. He knew how much time and energy I put into this thing, so I’m glad he got me into this thing because I love every minute of it right now.”

30 Responses to “The Apprentice”

  1. Buc believer Says:

    Sure hope he is a much better coach than he was a player or we are in trouble.

  2. John B Says:

    Kubiak- Pederson- Reich all examples of not so great QBs that are EXCELLENT coaches- seems like a natural progression for Leftwich

  3. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Hope he is “as good” as Monken.

  4. El_Buc941 Says:

    Well if Bruce Arians recruited him here and trusts him I’m good with the decision. Let’s just hope that if they get Desean Jackson to stay they can find a way to use him to his potential. Also let’s hope they get a RB off the market like say Leveon Bell,Kareem Hunt, maybe even Adrian Peterson.

  5. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    No chance that Leftwich is calling the plays, he will be in same boat that Nagy, Bienemy, and Pederson were in with Andy Reid. Im sure he will signal/call plays into Jameis after Coach Arians figures out what he wants to call

  6. OneBuc55 Says:

    Imo Leftwich is a college football legend, and was a pretty good pro.

    Not to mention, while being a bit athletically challenged, he was always a very smart player with a strong arm. I think he has more credibility than any QB coach/OC Winston has had since entering the league. Between Arians, Leftwich, and Christensen, Jameis now has all the support he needs to take his game to the next level…

  7. Buc believer Says:

    One Buc55….. not trying to call you out but how can you be “a pretty good quarterback” and be athleticy challenged at the same time?

  8. JabooBuc Says:

    Bucs Believer: does the name Tom Brady mean anything to you?

  9. softastissueMcCoy93 Says:

    @ Buc Believer, Did you see Dan Marino late in his career playing with 2 knee braces? He was still pretty good at the time.

  10. Stanglassman Says:

    Leftwich will be calling the plays. Arians said “he knows the playbook better than he does and I wrote the thing.” And went on about his intelligence & what a great instincts has as a coach and play caller. I think not calling plays on game day one of the reasons why BA decided to come back to coaching.

    I’ll never forget the toughness he showed when at Marshal he had that comeback win vs Akron. He broke his leg and stayed in the game, had the OLmen lift him down the field after each completion.

  11. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Kobe cant do it

    Kobe just cant give Byron Leftwhich any credibility

    Everytime Kobe looks at Leftwhich he sees a 250lb overgrown Gary Coleman Arnold of diffetent strokes

    Kobe just cant do it

    Kobe is going to flip out when after a interception, Leftwhich screams ” Whatcha doin Winston!”

    Kobe Faker

  12. TexBuc Says:

    Having the ability to play in the NFL and coaching are not related. Most coaches never had the talent to even try.

    In Bucco Bruce I trust.

  13. Buc50 Says:

    @TexBuc you said exactly what I was about to say. Magic Johnson was a HOFer but a terrible coach. There are great coaches out there who were mediocre players. Sometimes, your body can’t do what your mind says you should do.

  14. TexBuc Says:


    Well said

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We should trust Arians at this stage…….he will have the entire NFL watching him…..I simply don’t think he is making haphazard decisions….
    With his health concerns, he needs to surround himself with coaches he feels comfortable delegating to.

    And… simply can’t judge a coach’s ability by how good, bad or whether or not he actually played football…..there are far too many examples to prove that.

  16. OneBuc55 Says:

    Bucbeliever, what I mean is he was known as a smart QB with a strong arm…not his athletic ability as far as speed and quickness is concerned…

  17. VFL98 Says:

    This hire puts a sour note on things.

  18. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I saw Leftwich’s long windup but he could sling it.

    So he milked a ten year career as an NFL QB. Six more and JW will equal him. No he wasn’t a great QB but there really isn’t any need to go hyperbolic on him and trash ten years.

    One thing we didn’t get to see because neither he nor we had the opportunity was all the positive attributes listed here…bright..enthusiastic…natural leader…hard worker.

    We all should hold our fire until they’ve had a year…that includes our hero worship of BA. I’m a positive person and a FAN so I’m going to believe ALL the good stuff and ignore the negative until it’s forced down my throat ala Koetter and Smitty.

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    I fear that long wind-up before calling a play… 😉

  20. james west Says:

    lets just see how all this plays out before we start with all the nitpicking and sour grape bs

  21. Season Is Over Says:

    I don’t know about anyone else but I feel great knowing that Byron Leftwich and Clyde Christenson are leading the offense. A Les Steckle disciple will totally be up to date on all the intricacies of the modern NFL offensive philosophy.

  22. rrsrq Says:

    You either roll with Bruce BA Arians or you don’t. Let’s stop clamoring for Monken, he is in Cleveland. Leftwich is calling plays, I don’t think BA is gong to be the kinda coach that would have Byron looking over his shoulder, which means, BA will have him so prepared with the game plan and game situational play calling it will become second nature. The room will have BA, Byron, Clyde, Goodwin, Jameis and possibly another vet QB. That’s a lot of coaching and game playing experience.

  23. 813bucboi Says:

    i believe he’ll do a good job….


  24. 813bucboi Says:


    well said…i agree…


  25. Brandon Says:

    It’s funny that people criticize Leftwich as a coach because he had a fairly average NFL career… 10 years in the league is hardly average but he was never considered great. But he certainly was better than Doug Pederson, Gary Kubiak, and Frank Reich were as pros. Come to think of it, he was quite a bit better of a QB than Tony Dungy (Minnesota), Bruce Arians (Virginia Tech), and little Johnny Gruden (Dayton). Point is, it doesn’t matter how successful as an NFL QB you were, it has no bearing whatsoever of how good of a coach you will be… come to think of it, how many great NFL QBs were great NFL coaches? Sid Luckman?

    Here’s what we know about coaches that are successful. Most were middling players that got the most out of their limited abilities to fashion a decent NFL or college career. What did Leftwich do? Despite having one of the ugliest windups and releases in NFL history, and some of the slowest feet in the league, he was drafted in the 1st round and had early success for the Jaguars. He was a stud in college… often willing his team to win with his heart and passion for the game. Passion for the game? Isn’t that something great coaches have? That’s something that CAN NEVER be questioned of Leftwich. That collegiate game alone where he was carried after each completion to try and pull his team back into the game was one of the guttiest, most passionate performances I’ve ever seen. And people question his ability to coach because he wasn’t Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, or Steve Young on the field…. star QBs never become coaches, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that his passion for the game could be unrivaled. I like that, I want this guy coaching our guys up, with commitment, passion, and guts. I want our players to feed off his heart and try to play to the best of their abilities. I don’t know a thing about Leftwich’s actual ability to call plays, put together a game plan, and set up defenses, but I do know that he will give his all and put everything into this job. That’s enough for me.

  26. Buc50 Says:

    @Brandon spot on

  27. JimmyJack Says:

    Bruce speaks very highly of Byron. Moreso then any of his other assistants, even Bowles.

    You have to assume that Bruce and Byron work very well together and share the same vision for an QB & offense.

  28. Buc believer Says:

    @Jaboo… I KNOW you are not putting Leftwich on the same level as Brady so there must be another point to the comparison which I seem to have missed.maybe you could let me know what your point is.

  29. Season Is Over Says:

    I love the depths of rationalization this fan base resorts to in order to justify no experience Leftwich getting handed the offense. Leftwich was given OC job in the middle of October and fired by the end of December. Byron Leftwich is just what Winston needs. Two peas in a pod. Why does this organization continue to make high-risk decisions at the expense of the actual fans.

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    Generally speaking mediocre and poor NFL players end up being the best coaches – and rarely do good players end up being good coaches. This is really basic stuff anyone who follows sports should know already.