The Lonesome Case Of Lumbering Leftwich
Jaguar fans were shocked last year to see their offense actually (gasp) put up points. For instance, a major reason why I am such a Josh Scobee fan is because he was the one who was doing their job scoring points. We had one of the best defenses in the league but that was because we had no other choice — if our defense allowed more than 13 points there was no way we were going to even come close to winning.
I am not joking in the slightest bit.
Here are some scores from the 2006 season:
As you can see, the Jaguars didn’t score more than 14 points in any of those games. There were two games that season that we completely ran the table (we shut the Jets out 42 to 0 and we beat the Colts 44 to 17) but the rest of them didn’t average over 17 points.
I picked these games out because it also shows that if the defense faltered, there was no way for the offense to pick it up.
So what changed in 2007?
On August 31, 2007 David Garrard became the starting quarterback and Byron Leftwich was sent packing.
Leftwich was drafted as the seventh pick overall in the 2003 draft. He was never that mobile and in 2005 he went down hard with an ankle injury. Garrard started for him for five games and won all but one of them, helping guarantee a playoff spot. The Jags were set to play against the New England Patriots and Del Rio made the choice to start Leftwich.
The score ended 28-3 but the game was much closer than what the score suggests. This is from memory so bare with me here. The Jaguars held strong until a few mistakes ate them away. Leftwich held the ball a long time, leading him to get sacked. A lot. Instead of spicing up the game with runs from Fred Taylor, Leftwich insisted on throwing the ball. Again. And again. And again. It was like watching a five year old play Madden. Leftwich was taken out and Garrard came in but at that point it was too late to save the game.
A quarterback controversy stirred. The Jaguar fans were broken up into camps: Leftwich Loyalist and Garrard Groupies. A mediocre 8-8 2006 season sealed the deal in a lot of people’s minds: Leftwich had to go. He had reached the best of his abilities and it just wasn’t good enough to win games in the NFL.
Del Rio seemed to think the same. After a poor showing during the 2007 preseason, he let Leftwich go. Atlanta decided to pick him up. As Joey Harrington‘s backup. Who was Michael Vick‘s backup. He played a few games with the Falcons before he was cut in early 2008.
A Washington Times article recently did a profile story of Leftwich. What does he say about that faithful New England Patriots playoff game?
"Leftwich returned for a playoff loss to New England. He was rusty, and he also hinted at additional damage that went undetected. He would not explain further.“I’m saving it for the book I’m gonna write one day,” he said, laughing."
Leftwich is still looking for his team. In the same Washington Times article he said
"And on whether he could handle being a backup, Leftwich said, “I believe so. That’s not where my mind-set is, but at the same time, I want to do whatever I can to help a football team. I just want to have the opportunity. Just give me the opportunity, and we’ll go from there.”"
He is a good guy. As some one who wasn’t a big fan of Leftwich (I cheered when he was cut. Loudly.) I hope he finds his team. He’s got one heck of an arm on him.