In a critical year for the franchise, and a critical year for quarterback Jameis Winston, new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is taking a bit of a gamble by turning the offensive coordinator and play calling duties to a mostly inexperienced Byron Leftwhich.
Of course Arians wouldn’t agree, and said he thinks Leftwich is more than capable of leading Tampa Bay’s offense in 2019 and beyond.
“Just watching what he did with someone else’s offense,” Arians said. “I think they scored, I don’t know the exact statistic, but they scored on like 80 percent of their first drives. With third-string linemen and guys injured everywhere, so I know he knows how to script it.
“He was the smartest quarterback, maybe, that I’ve ever coached, including Peyton [Manning] and Andrew [Luck]. Because that’s the way he had to play the game. Bugging him to get off of the golf course and into coaching, I knew how good he’d be. It was instinct. With his instinct, and rapport with Carson Palmer. They were drafted in the same class and all of a sudden this dude is like begging him for information. How did you see this, when you played how did you read this, and those sort of things, and he was able to teach it right away and that’s rare.”
Arians, who was the offensive decision maker with Arizona, Indianapolis, and even for a time with the Steelers, is allowing himself to delegate with his new job. So how can Arians bite his tongue and allow his young play caller to fully handle his duties?
“I won’t bite it. I’ll bite his, but he knows,” Arians laughed in Arizona when asked the question by PewterReport.com prior to the coaches breakfast last week. “I mean, there’s going to be times when you get gut feeling during a game. And we script our gameplans so meticulously that there are only about five or six gut calls in a game. It’s time to, ‘hey, pound it, just pound it,’ or, ‘we got ‘em, it’s time for a shot.’ It’s odd because when Byron [Leftwich] called plays for me in the preseason, we called a lot of the same plays. Harold [Goodwin] called plays, he ran the ball more. He’s an offensive line coach. We ran the ball successfully, but we aren’t going to score enough points going four at a time. We’ve got to get some chunks in there. I’ll be there, in full force on the headset, with input. It’ll give Byron and I a lot of time together too.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“We’ll have to watch and make sure we don’t overcoach Jameis. That’s what Clyde [Christensen] is great at, ‘coach that’s awesome stuff, but I think we’ve got enough, I don’t think he can handle anymore.’ Being able to sit with Byron, game plan, know what I’m looking for and what he’s looking for, I’m looking forward to that.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.