I originally wrote this in August. Byron Leftwich had a great game in relief on November 3, leading the Steelers to a win against the Washington Redskins. You better believe that as good as Ben Roethlisberger is, he won’t sit as long as he can walk because he knows how good Leftwich, a fellow Mid-American Conference (MAC) QB, is. I do feel somewhat vindicated now that David Garrard has led the Jaguars to a 5-9 record so far.
I’m kind of shocked that quarterback Byron Leftwich wasn’t signed by an NFL team this year until August 9, when the Steelers signed him to backup Ben Roethlesberger. Leftwich has been criticized for having a very long throwing motion, which combined with his inability to run much hurts him at a time when mobility is increasingly important for NFL quarterbacks. He has a career passer rating of 80.3, and a touchdown to interception ratio of 54-38. Solid but not spectacular numbers. But what about being a winner? Doesn’t production matter? Leftwich was 24-20 as a starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Has the NFL changed that much since Leftwich had his best season and led the Jaguars to a 12-4 record in 2005? Everybody acted as if when Jags coach Jack Del Rio replaced Leftwich with Garrard two years ago, that it was a no-brainer. Not only was it not a no-brainer, it was the wrong decision.
I heard the most ridiculous thing on Sirius NFL Radio this summer. Former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck said that last year proved Leftwich couldn’t get the job done. He didn’t join the Atlanta Falcons until week 3 of last year so he missed all of training camp, the preseason, and the first two weeks of the season. It’s true that he has a long windup that takes a lot of time, but he has a strong arm, he is still in his prime, and he has been a winner. He led some great comebacks in both college and the pros.