Byron Leftwich NFL Stats
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Byron Leftwich NFL Game Log
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Free Agent Team Injury Report
Leftwich missed the entire 2011 season due to a fractured arm, and hasn't started a game since 2009 while with Tampa Bay. If he can remain healthy, Leftwich is first in line should Ben Roethlisberger go down.
Leftwich returns to Pittsburgh after spending the 2009 season with Tampa Bay. The Steelers have yet to announce he will start in place of Ben Roethlisberger until he returns from his four-to-six games suspension, but the job belongs to Leftwich. He inherits a team that has lost their leading receiver from a year ago (Santonio Holmes), an offensive line that gave up 50 sacks and also lost one of their top men (Willie Colon), and an offensive shift back to the run. What's not to like about the fantasy prospective of his first few games of the season? Leftwich is a serviceable backup for the NFL, but Pittsburgh will likely ask him to manage games more than rely on him to win them. The game plan will be dialed back a bit with him under the center.
Tampa Bay is a likely QB wasteland in 2009. Leftwich has a release so slow it needs to be timed with a sundial. And rookie Josh Freeman is nowhere near ready to take the reins. Josh McCown will also get a shot at the job, and even second-year man Josh Johnson is nominally in the mix. New head coach Raheem Morris was promoted from heading up the defensive backs and appointed as offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, formerly of Boston College and fired for interviewing with the Jets. Jagodzinski hasn’t really stayed anywhere long enough to give one a firm sense of his offensive philosophy. He did have a pass-happy attack at Boston College and had a large role in developing NFL-ready Matt Ryan. So maybe the learning curve for Freeman will be accelerated. But to expect returns from him in 2009 is foolish.
Yes, Antonio Bryant looked last year like the franchise wide receiver the Bucs designated him as in February. And TE Kellen Winslow will be productive if healthy, though he’s rarely that given his chronic knee troubles. The best hope for 2009 production lies with Leftwich; but he’s too mechanical – lacking the improvisational flair one needs to be a big scorer in the fast-paced NFL world.
Coach Jack Del Rio sent out strong signals after the draft that he’s not happy with the QB situation in ruminating over passing on Brady Quinn. Leftwich has the reputation of a big-armed, downfield passer. But only David Carr and Mark Brunell generated a lower percentage of air yards than Leftwich’s 44.7. Of course, Carr and Brunell are now carrying clipboards. We suspect Leftwich will soon be, too. Garrard is nothing special, but he’s won as a starter and gets credit for that. Garrard is also much more accurate than Leftwich (12 percent poor throws – fifth best overall – compared to 18 percent for Leftwich). But Garrard’s pocket awareness is inferior, as he was sacked once every 12 attempts compared to once every 20 for Leftwich. It’s not worth bothering with either because the Jags are a defensive team that runs more than they pass in the first half of games and has a two- or even three-headed RB committee with Greg Jones now back from injury.
It’s a real struggle to find things to like about Leftwich’s fantasy prospects. He had a 5.68 YPA on first down, which is why the Jags were 28th in first-down pass percentage. Jacksonville was 23rd in pass percentage and 30th in red-zone pass percentage. Leftwich is terribly inaccurate, with 20 percent poor throws (and he’s always well below average in this category). He's got an outstanding arm, but the biggest questions surrouning Leftwich have always been accuracy. Eight of his 20 red-zone throws were TDs, an amazingly good 40 percent efficiency (would have led the league if it continued barring injury). But in ’04, he converted just 8 of 58 red-zone throws, which is beyond bad. So, maybe ’05 was a sample-size fluke. There’s lots of size now in the receiving corps, but it’s completely unknown whether any is capable of replacing the retired Jimmy Smith as a legitimate No. 1 weapon.
While Leftwich’s season-ending stats weren’t much to write home about, it’s worth noting that he missed two games with a sprained knee and played (if you can call it that) through a concussion in a third. If you were to prorate his 2,941 yards and 15 touchdowns (plus two rushing touchdowns) through a full season, he’d have 18 passing and two rushing scores with 3,620 yards. Leftwich also cut down on the picks in 2004, throwing just 10 – though to be consistent, let’s call it 12, given a full season of games.
Leftwich is a big, strong quarterback with a good arm and decent feet in the pocket, but he’s heavy and not fast enough to be much of a threat making plays on the move. With top target Jimmy Smith turning 36 this winter, second-year man Reggie Williams needs to take a big step up to give Leftwich a legitimate second receiving option. Rookie Matt Jones, who has tremendous physical tools, could also contribute, but after Smith, there’s not a lot of polish among Leftwich’s targets.
Leftwich has a reputation as a great pure passer, yet almost 20 percent of this passes were poorly thrown last year. He also struggled greatly in the intermediate range, throwing eight picks and one TD on passes between 11 and 20 yards. The Jaguars have upgraded their receiving corps with the addition of the talented but raw Reggie Williams. Better cause for optimism can be found in Leftwich's home splits; he averaged over 7.5 yards per attempt and had nine TDs against just seven INTs in Jacksonville . Experience should allow Leftwich to narrow this home/road discrepancy. A 2004 breakout is unlikely because of the Jags emphasis on defense and the transition underway at No. 1 receiver. So draft accordingly.
The Jaguars surprisingly selected Leftwich with their first round pick, which has left many assuming he will be their starting quarterback in 2004. For '03, we expect him to battle with David Garrard for backup. If Brunell should get injured, opening up significant playing time, we expect Leftwich will get the majority of it.