Seismic Transition

June 8th, 2020

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

There’s an awful lot riding on this Tom Brady experiment in Tampa.

Brady is determined to prove his unparalleled success isn’t tightly tied to Bill Belichick’s coaching acumen. Buc fans have joined the franchise on this all-in thrill ride, expecting a 10-win season, at minimum. The Glazers signed off, knowing this is likely a 2-year deal with no long-term quarterback plan in place. Once Bruce Arians pursued the legend behind Door No. 2, he realized he was hitching his legacy to a quarterback who will turn 43 in August.

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.

And then there is the case of Byron Leftwich, charged with making the seismic transition from Jameis Winston to Brady, knowing his professional future is on the line.

Leftwich was hired last year because Arians trusts he can do the job. He also believes the NFL’s only black coordinator who serves as primary play caller may be on the fast track toward a head coaching position.

The 2020 season will go a long way in determining Leftwich’s future in this league.

Despite directing an offense ranked third in total yards and tied for third in points scored, Leftwich didn’t get much of a sniff while executives and owners filled the NFL’s coaching vacancies. That 7-9 record wasn’t much of an endorsement and Winston’s turnover barrage turned off the decision makers.

Broken Pipeline

Given the league’s sorry record on hiring minorities for key positions, Leftwich is facing an uphill battle. Mike Tomlin, Anthony Lynn and Brian Flores are the only three black head coaches while Miami’s Chris Grier and Cleveland’s Andrew Berry are the lone black general managers.

In 2016, seven GM positions were filled by minorities.

A broken pipeline is another issue. In a league that worships touchdowns, Leftwich and Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy are the only black offensive coordinators.

“I think he’s a rising star in this business,” Arians says of Leftwich, who is two years younger than Brady.

For that star to rise, Leftwich must prove he can re-shape Tampa Bay’s playbook to accentuate Brady’s skill set.

“We’ll see,” Joe Montana told USA Today. “He’ll be a good addition to that team, as long as they don’t hold the ball like they’ve been doing. I don’t think he fits into that category to hold the ball. Can he do it? Yeah. But physically, it becomes a different game when you’ve got to hang on, because you’re going to get hit.

“What they do in New England, they get the ball out of their hand pretty fast. Occasionally, they’ll throw it downfield. They probably have a little better offensive line (in Tampa) than in New England.”

That remains to be seen.

Collaboration will be different this year

Brady can be hard on his offensive coordinators. With six Super Bowl rings, he is entitled to significant input on Leftwich’s game plan and Arians isn’t about to stand in Brady’s way.

Address Change

The 2020 Buc offense will be a collaborative effort, but if Tampa Bay has the kind of season fans anticipate, Leftwich could find himself rewarded with a dream job. Former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger texted Leftwich when Brady came aboard in March:

“Hey, don’t screw it up,” Roethlisberger said. “All I’ve got to do is get out of the way,” Leftwich answered.

Not quite.

Ultimately, it is Leftwich’s responsibility to keep Brady upright. It is Leftwich’s responsibility to generate a complementary running game that will maximize Brady’s penchant for play action.

In April, Brady made national headlines when he entered the wrong house, looking for Leftwich. The NFL let it go and everyone got a big laugh out of Brady’s misdirection.

But the ramifications of Brady’s signing are serious, especially when it comes to his ambitious offensive coordinator.

Byron Leftwich has designs on a particular address — the head coach’s office.

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Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford, where the stunning offers and 0% interest rates are waiting for you. Click on Ira to visit BillCurrieFord.com. GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally.

19 Responses to “Seismic Transition”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Leftwich progression is purely lip service from Bruce Arians to try to get him a Head Coaching gig.

    There were too many times last season where the play calling was questionable at best.

    This season it will be Tom Brady calling his offensive gameplan……NOT Leftwich; so really nobody knows if Leftwich is even a good OC.

    All I know is this……it better not be conservative play calling. I totally get Tom Brady “Dink-n-Dunk” offense because that was a New England staple and Bruce Arians will not require Brady to learn a whole nother offensive system or style of play.

    So if you ask me….this season; Leftwich is nothing more than a clip board holder for Tom Brady until he is gone.

  2. gp Says:

    BucsAnthem
    I agree in principle but you left out that Leftwich will be learning from Tom. How well he does in the future depends heavily on how well he learns from Brady’s experience.

  3. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ gp

    Very good point indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  4. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Except for Tomlin (he is starting to fall in to the “what have you done for me lately” category. What are the combined records of these coaches? The best man (regardless of race) should get the job.

    Bienemy has been an Offensive Coordinator for how long now? Some would say that Mike Shula would be an awesome offensive coordinator with Mahomes as his QB.

  5. Bucc941 Says:

    Tomlin has never had a losing record as a head coach. He won 8 games last year with Mason Rudolph and Duck Rogers for gods sake. Lol

  6. Knuckle Sandwich Delivery Service Says:

    Naw Scotty- these days it’s not about winning and losing, but placating those concerned with the “diversified” make up of every damn thing that exists on this planet.

    If you need proof, just observe how the Brady haters act. I prefer winning with the best available person to fill the position. But then again, I’m not part of the whole crowd.

  7. Knuckle Sandwich Delivery Service Says:

    “Woke crowd”

  8. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Joe Montana said. “He’ll be a good addition to that team, as long as they don’t hold the ball like they’ve been doing. I don’t think he fits into that category to hold the ball. Can he do it? Yeah. But physically, it becomes a different game when you’ve got to hang on, because you’re going to get hit.”

    I worry that Arians is gonna ask Brady to run the same offense Jameis ran last year.

  9. Joe in Michigan Says:

    TheBucsAnthem: you’ve made disparaging comments on here before about Byron Leftwich, and I asked you then, which you didn’t respond to…How do you know so much about Byron Leftwich? Have you ever played for him? Do you know him? Have you ever even spoken to him? If so, your opinion might have some validity. If not, you’re just talking gibberish about someone you don’t know.

  10. stpetebucsfan Says:

    @Joe

    You have just identified a JBF staple. LMAO

    “If not, you’re just talking gibberish about someone you don’t know.”

  11. Mike Johnson Says:

    Ira your 1st sentence bout sums it all up in a nice little package. Because that is just what this current buc venture/fiasco is…an experiment. I hope Buc fans are not terribly disappointed. This could turn into just another saga of..BucLife. so here is hoping for the best. As me and my best friend, Don Julio sit out on the back porch sippin and contemplating…

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    “This could turn into just another saga of..BucLife.”

    Yes or this COULD turn out to be a dramatic run to another SB title.

    Yet you only see ONE possibility. BOTH are possible….that’s the literal fact yet you choose to ONLY view the negative possibility. WTF is wrong with you man?

  13. gp Says:

    It takes a special kind of person to be a long time Bucs fan. Some just can’t keep it up and eventually expect losing even when things look the brightest. Take it easy on him, he’s actually quite fragile and could break at any moment!

  14. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Play-call, or who is calling the plays….does not matter. Tom will run the offense by selecting whoever is open —albeit quickly. Meaning RB, Godwin, or a TE. And ME will get his turns from Tom, but nowhere near the frequency from earlier, unless ME is running shorter routes. ME will get a 2-3 long passes (beyond 20 yards), per game. Montana is not a dummy….

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    To me, it looks like a no-win situation for Leftwich…….if Brady performs well and the Bucs win because of it……that will be the story…….”Brady makes the Bucs Winners”
    If he doesn’t, Leftwich will get some of the blame…..
    Hard to see how Leftwich wins….
    But…a rising tide lifts all boats. So, he will be a part of the winning team….how far will that take him?…..Who knows?

    I am quite convinced that the offense will be stellar……but, it will be the Defense that brings home the championship…..

  16. orlbucfan Says:

    Bucs better have some decent backup QBs cos they’ll need them.

  17. gp Says:

    orlbuc
    Relying on a back-up quarterback = picking early in the next draft

  18. topdoggie Says:

    1/10 of a second. 1/10 of a second. 1/10 of a second. That’s the difference in time between how long Winston held the ball last year and how long Brady held it.
    Why do people keep repeating that Brady gets the ball out faster?

  19. topdoggie Says:

    Sorry double checked it’s actually 2/10 of a second. The fastest is the Red rifle Dalton. That caught me by surprise. Also the 2/10 was consistent over the last three years.