A Bill Walsh Story Sums Up Byron Leftwich And Might Explain Jason Licht’s Thought Process

June 21st, 2023

Quoting the master.

Past words of wisdom may explain some things about the Bucs in 2023.

Last year in his lone Bucs season without his personal blanket known as Bucco Bruce Arians to protect and shield him, football-unemployed former Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was exposed as a brutal coach who didn’t believe in mismatches; and a little man who bristled when questioned on his grossly subpar results. He was a condescending man who mocked legitimate questions as “fantasy football” and who proved to be way, way over his head as a coordinator.

That latter is why Joe nicknamed him “SpongeBob.”

Yesterday, Joe was listening to Michael Lombardi, the former Browns general manager and coffee fetcher for Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh, on his podcast “GM Shuffle.” There, Lombardi relayed a Walsh story on what he once heard Walsh say about being an offensive coach.

Walsh, per Lombardi, told him anyone could draw up pass plays on a whiteboard. But a man who can craft and execute a consistent, solid run game was a top-shelf and gifted coach.

Joe thought immediately of SpongeBob.

The Bucs passing game was not really the problem last year. But the Bucs had the worst rushing attack in the NFL.

And perhaps Walsh’s words also explain why Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht never addressed the running backs this offseason despite the draft being loaded with running backs.

Perhaps Licht could see what Walsh referenced, as the Bucs’ rushing attack was entrusted to a guy who was like a chicken with his head cut off? And that all the Bucs needed was an offensive coordinator who understands the run game and could scheme up production from Rachaad White and Sneak Vaughn.

47 Responses to “A Bill Walsh Story Sums Up Byron Leftwich And Might Explain Jason Licht’s Thought Process”

  1. shankasorous Says:

    “A man who can craft and execute a consistent, solid run game was a top-shelf and gifted coach.”

    Bucs were dead last in the NFL last season in rushing yards per game AND rushing yards per carry.

  2. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Never heard that Walsh quote before. It’s believable.

  3. Buc4evr Says:

    Yeah, Leftwurst was one dimensional and Brady just wasn’t able to cover his mistakes due to the OLine issues. Of course SpongeBob refused to make any corrections whatsoever when questioned by the fans and the press. I am amazed that the head coach wasn’t demanding changes. Sad situation.

  4. Lt. Dan Says:

    And if “Baby Nick Chubb” pans out…glass half full.

  5. SufferingSince76 Says:

    This just makes it more aggravating that the Bucs knew they had a stinker at OC and did nothing about it. It’s total bullspit that there was no one better available. Anyone who ever held a football would have been better. BA did many good things for the Bucs, but trying to pass BL as head coach material (or OC) was not one of them.

  6. Hodad Says:

    I said this in a post yesterday that White was a second round pick, Vaughn a third. Not exactly like they were taken from a USFL practice squad. Chase has had some success, and if the kid with the heart problem can play we should have decent enough backs. Much happier we spent a 2nd on an O lineman than a RB. The problem was more about scheme, and O line play, than not having good enough backs. Joe disagreed. If White stays healthy he will rush for a 1000. That would not be possible under Lefty.

  7. Mike C Says:

    Bucs will be better on Offense after losing The Goat, THAT is how bad spongebob was!

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Hodad….White was a 3rd round pick….

    And, yes….our problem was likely the Oline & coaching….not the RBs….& that included Lenny.

    We will see….

    And, Joe…..don’t be so hard on Byron.”rhymes with Myron” he do what he do the best he can. (Which is not good)

  9. Elita Vita Says:

    Bruce Arians is known to be fiercely loyal to those he promises to be. Two of these are Byron Leftwich & Todd Bowles. No greater friend can you find then BA. In order for Arians to come come out of retirement and coach the buccaneers the Glazers promised Arians that Leftwich and Bowles would be his successors. The Glazers are honoring their commitment to him. Leftwich didn’t have the talent to succeed at OC. Bowles is getting another chance at HC. In return Arians coached a Super Bowl winning team.

  10. geno711 Says:

    Another Bill Walsh quote that I hope fits our running game this year:

    “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

    I love NFL coaches football quotes:

    Jimmy Johnson: “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”

    Bum Phillips: “There are two kinds of coaches: them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”

    Dick Vermeil: “If a quarterback’s in a game and he’s dropping back to pass, and nobody’s open, I’m not calling that play again.”

    Tom Landry: “The secret to success is to know something nobody else knows.”

    Mike Ditka: “If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.”

    Reporter: “Coach, how do you feel about your team’s execution?”
    John McKay: “I’m in favor of it.”

  11. Jeff Says:

    Byron, much like Devin White, just isn’t smart enough. These are not dumb men by any means, but they lack the elite intelligence that makes coaches and players great. Derrick Brooks, for example, very talented athletically but even more talented mentally.

  12. NutterBuccer Says:

    Agreed with MIKE C…..Leftwich was so bad that this team will improve without brady. I loved brady too but let’s face he he recently said he didn’t want to get hit anymore and oline regressed. We all saw it he had some great Moments in 2022 but he wasn’t the same guy. Let’s hope for a better 2023.

  13. ATLBuc Says:

    Byron wasn’t a schemer. Mike and Chris had to literally fight for every reception they got. Now, Mike says he’s never been this wide open. Perhaps this scheme is why Geno played so well and Russell Wilson played so well. If that’s the case, perhaps either qb will flourish in this offense.
    After winning a division championship and to hear the national media repeatedly say that Tom Brady was the only reason for success and without him we will totally crumble, I expect this team to play with a HUGE chip on their shoulders. I expect the offense to be efficient and the defense to punish opponents.
    Thank you talking heads. You given this team enough bulletin board material to last the whole season.
    Don’t come jumping on our bandwagon after we beat Minnesota and Philly!

  14. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    The names of Bill Walsh and Byron Leftwich should never be included in the same sentence.

  15. Tye Says:

    I wish the Bucs had a Bill Walsh for HC!

    ‘Toilet’ Todd will handicap this team and keep them subpar…

  16. Craig Says:

    It was the lack of craft in Lefties’s offense.

    He did not add his line into the run game, they just blocked with no counters, pulling guards, or treys.

    The RB was left on an island to fend for himself.

  17. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    SufferingSince76 Says:
    “This just makes it more aggravating that the Bucs knew they had a stinker at OC and did nothing about it.”

    They didn’t actually know until the season started, and it is against team policy to fire coaches during a season.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Also, not to make excuses, but you can’t run the ball if you are constantly behind.

  19. Buc1987 Says:

    Bonzai…that’s why they have such a great D minded HC.

    So they’re not playing behind.

  20. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    This lands on Jason Licht and Bowels, how could either of these guys not recognize what the entire football world could see, that BL is not qualified nor ever was to call plays at this level or even the college football level

  21. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:


    They definitely had those plays, and then BL did them in poor football situations, watch the game against the steelers and how BL ran with the LG pulling on multiple plays despite him getting blown up

  22. Derf Says:

    Good riddance

  23. Fred McNeil Says:


  24. Fred McNeil Says:

    This is ridiculous

  25. Crickett Baker Says:

    Geno, those quotes were GREAT! I’m still chuckling.

  26. Brandon Says:

    Having a QB that could back the safeties up a little by throwing downfield might have helped the ground game.

  27. Who Says Says Can't Say Says:

    Good coordinators take what they have and craft an attack based around the personnel to maximize the impact from their skills.

    A bad coordinator can look good if those skills match what their one and only gameplan is. That’s why Leftwich could look good as the OC that won a Super Bowl, but when he had to craft a new gameplan to adapt to injuries and existing talent, he was clueless.

    I would argue Chucky is not a good coordinator either, same reason.

  28. HC Grover Says:

    One Arians legacy disaster down and one to go. It was not Ariens that got the Bucs the SB it was just Brady. Ariens hates that.

  29. Fred McNeil Says:

    What am I being moderated for now? I didn’t say anything controversial of NSFW.

  30. captivajim Says:

    Grover is spot on !!!

  31. Destinjohnny Says:

    Lefty won a super bowl ?

  32. Joe Says:

    What am I being moderated for now?

    You are not.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Sometimes if you take a look at who someone was taught by you can get an idea of why ‘they do what they do’. BL’s teacher was BA as we all know. Take a look at BA’s offenses in terms of running prowess …

    o 2013 Cardinals: 1540 rushing yds … rank: #23
    o 2014 Cardinals: 1308 rushing yds … rank: #31
    o 2015 Cardinals: 1917 rushing yds … rank: #8
    o 2016 Cardinals: 1732 rushing yds … rank: #18
    o 2017 Cardinals: 1386 rushing yds … rank: #30
    o 2019 Bucs: 1521 rushing yds … rank: #24
    o 2020 Bucs: 1519 rushing yds … rank: #28
    o 2021 Bucs: 1672 rushing yds … rank: #26

    Byron was on his own with the 2018 Cardinals when he was the OC (part year) for Steve Wilks (who lasted 1 season there like BL did without BA). The result? 1342 rushing yds … rank: #32

    Byron was also on his own with our 2022 Bucs when he was OC (without BA) for Todd Bowles. The result? 1308 rushing yards … rank: #32.

    Gotta give Byron credit; he was consistent. Well, consistently bad when it came to planning a running attack and integrating it into his offensive attack. Perhaps THAT was the product of BA’s tutelage?

  34. Fred McNeil Says:

    DR, that was most enlightening!

  35. Fred McNeil Says:

    Weird thing, if I post from my phones network it goes through. If I post from my WIFI it just vanishes.

  36. Lamarcus Says:

    Yes but there were people here really putting Leftwich on a pedal when things were going right. Calling him a head coach and that was cringe worthy 😆

  37. WillieG Says:

    Everything okay Joe? I had my breakfast dose, and then nothing. No lunchtime reading. No dinner reading……

    Hope all is well.

  38. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Sometimes coaches get too much blame when things go wrong, and they get too much credit when things go right.
    Case in point bill belichick record with Brady, and then without Brady.
    While lefty was no Einstein, he certainly appeared to do well the year the Bucs took it to the house!

  39. Duane Says:

    Im a Licht fan, but there hasnt been a consistent running game since he got here. He did make scoring a thing for this franchise though. Byron and a shot GOAT were great contributors to the dud last season. Its a scoring league, and he has put a higher premium in getting that done. The running game would be nice to get rolling. I would be happier to see more 50/50 balls to Evans.

  40. IE Buc Says:

    Management gave Bowles the ok to fire Leftwich after the Ravens game, but he didn’t pull the trigger. The Seahawks game after that led to some false hope. Who knows how much of a deeper run the Bucs could have had in the playoffs if Bowles had gone through and fired Leftwich.

  41. Defense Rules Says:

    IE Buc … I’d love to know how you found out that ‘Management gave Bowles the ok to fire Leftwich after the Ravens game, but he didn’t pull the trigger’. And if BA was onboard with that.

    We played the Rams right after the Ravens, and barely beat them (16-13) using predominantly a passing attack (58 passes – 20 rushes). We then played the Seahawks in Germany & beat them 21-16 using a heavy running attack (30 passes – 44 rushes). So that’s 2 straight wins AFTER the 27-22 loss to the Ravens (which followed the 21-3 loss to the Panthers).

    We next played the Browns & lost to them in OT 23-17 after allowing them to come back to tie it in the 4th qtr. Once again though, BL went back to the pass-heavy scheme (43 passes – 20 rushes). Then we beat the Saints 17-16 using a pass-heavy attack (54 passes – 20 rushes).

    So Byron & the Bucs … after the Raven loss … won 3 of the next 4 & lost 1 in overtime. And then the wheels fell off against 2 very good teams, the 49ers & the Bengals. Yet even though we were on a winning streak, we weren’t putting up very many points (our defense kept us in the games, except against the Browns). Personally I would’ve canned him after that 21-3 loss to the Panthers, but I can understand Bowles’ reluctance to make a major change midway in the season when we were 3-4 after the Panthers game.

  42. SlyPirate Says:

    2016 Denver Broncos

    John Elway is arguable the greatest QB of all time (yes, better than TB12). In today’s game, Elway would be unstoppable. Elway took Denver to 3x Super Bowls and lost! It wasn’t until Coach Shanahan instituted the most innovative running attack that the Broncos (and an old Elway) won two championships.

    Cool Walsh quote, Joe. Let me add to it. Jimmy Johnson used say, “You throw to score. You run to win.”

  43. geno711 Says:

    Another long post by me. Pretty ugly offense last year.

    Been on this site a long time. At the start of the playoffs in 2019, it was a bunch of teams that ran the ball pretty well that made the playoffs and went far in the playoffs. All I saw on this site is that we have to run the ball good to be a good team.

    Turned out that the worst running team that year won the playoffs. Of course, they had Mahomes.

    In 2020, 2021, and 2022 mostly the teams that excelled in passing were the ones that made the playoffs. Those run the ball better guys on this site got a lot quieter with all the success the Bucs and other teams passing the ball had.

    Multiple ways to win in the NFL. You do NOT have to have some sort of balance.

    Really you can even be crappy like the Bucs at running the ball and win the Super Bowl. Or crappy like the 49ers at passing the ball and get to the Super Bowl.

    What you really need is 3rd and 4th down efficiency on offense to just keep drives going. That is where we were really different last year than the BA years IMO. 2019 41%, 2020 44% (higher 2nd half of year), 2021 47%. Last year 37% 3rd down efficiency without BA.

    We do not need to be good yardage wise in rushing the ball to have a good offense. We need to have an offense that converts their 3rd downs better than the next guy. If that comes from dominance in the run game this year over the pass game, then fine.

    However, I am worried that this Bowles and Canales combo will be the same as every other Bowles combination with an offensive coordinator and lack any consistency in converting 3rd and 4th downs.

    Bowles with Jets and 3rd down efficiency:
    2015: 41%
    2016: 36%
    2017: 36%
    2018: 32%

  44. DungyDance Says:

    Joe says: “He was a condescending man who mocked legitimate questions as ‘fantasy football’ and who proved to be way, way over his head as a coordinator.

    That latter is why Joe nicknamed him ‘SpongeBob.'”

    Finally the SpongeBob reveal. I was about to go find someone to resurrect Robert Stack for an Unsolved Mysteries episode on that nickname. I can rest easy now.

  45. Mord Says:

    I’m not sure I understand how that trait becomes a reference to SpongeBob. Am I forgetting some particular episode?

    Regardless, Walsh’s wisdom remains profound

  46. Voice of Truth Says:

    Byron better have saved his money, no one in their right mind will ever pay him to coach again. I wouldn’t let that guy coach my grandson in PopWarner

    As many have already referenced- no matter how bad Byron was, not one OC has EVER lasted more than 1 season with Toad Bowles as HC

    0 for 4 and counting – NONE have made it to year 2

    Think that had anything to do with him getting turned down by his top choices prior to Canales???

    Expect Canales to be next when the entire staff gets run right after our 6-11 finish

  47. Defense Rules Says:

    geno711 … ‘Multiple ways to win in the NFL. You do NOT have to have some sort of balance.’

    I always enjoy your posts, and your points are spot on about Bowles’ offenses & 3rd down efficiencies. I suspect that we diverge a little in terms of ‘balance’ though. I tend to view ‘balance’ at the macro level admittedly (ie, the ‘balance’ between offense & defense?). A great offense can mitigate having a average (or worse) defense, and vice versa, much like our 2020 & 2002 Bucs’ teams showed. But as I look at Super Bowl winners, those are more the exceptions rather than the rule. It appears to be more common to find BOTH the offense AND the defense of the winner ranked in the Top-10 (Points Scored & Allowed) than not. Tom Brady’s 10 trips to the Super Bowl this century were a testament to that IMO. In all but 1 of those 10, the Pats/Bucs ranked in the Top-10 BOTH offensively & defensively.

    From a run-pass ‘balance’ perspective, I agree wholeheartedly that a ’50-50 balance’ isn’t necessary, but opposing teams do need to respect the threat of you using either. And that was the major problem last year IMO; opponents didn’t respect our running game, allowing them to tee-off on TB12 & short-circuit any deep passing threat. ‘Balance’ in that perspective mostly means that BOTH the run & the pass have to be credible in terms of the threat that they represent to the defense.