When the news, first broke by Pewter Report, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plan on parting ways with Byron Leftwich, Kurt Warner, Hall Of Fame quarterback, had something to say about it. Now that the team has parted ways with Leftwich let’s dissect Warners comments.
Kurt Specifical Tweeted The Following,
“Few things irritate me more in NFL talk than when ppl talk about getting rid of a coach after getting their team to the playoffs!!! Please just STOP-this job is difficult, it’s dependent on a lot of factors against best in the wrld & we are so flippant w/that”
Unfortunately for Kurt the Buccaneers’ fan base has payed close attention to what’s been happening on the field. More so than he has. Also his choice of words is interesting. I drew particular attention to the “getting their team to the playoffs” piece. In no means, way or fashion did Byron Leftwich get this team to the playoffs. Instead they got there despite him.
Additionally, it should be pointed out that this team didn’t necessarily win their way into the playoffs. Lest we forget they ended the season with a losing record. They were just fortunate enough to play in an injury riddled, mismanaged, and horrid division this year. They were gifted the playoffs.
Typically the bad teams are spread out amongst the divisions. But not this year. Outside the shortened 1982 season three teams have made the playoffs with a losing record. 2010 Seahawks (7-9), 2014 Panthers (7-8-1), and the 2020 Commanders (7-9).
Had the Seahawks not fired Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator) after the 2010 season they would have never won a Super Bowl. The Panthers had an excuse not to fire anyone in 2014. Cam Newton was severely hampered by injuries. As for the Commanders, well they stuck it out too and are still mislabel. So it’s safe to say (with a small sample) that sticking with your weakest coordinator after making the playoffs with a losing record equates to…well, more losing. Oh by the way Ron Rivera coached two of those teams.
Warner Responded To A Comment About The Historic Drop Off In Points Per Game With
“OK, but they have the same players… so u think all the sudden they trashed all the plays they had in past & the coach forgot how to design plays?? That’s my point there are lots of factors, sometimes coaching has to be better & sometimes players – but we panic thinking grass is greener!”
Forgot How To Design Plays
First lets talk about trashing plays and forgetting how to design them. We can actually look at the number of plays and make a determination here. In this season Tom Brady has 16.2% of his offensive snaps be play action. In 2021 it was 18%, and in 2020 it was 19.7%. So there is a slow degradation away from what worked well and was proven from Brady’s first season with Leftwich to this season. Again in this season, Brady threw 13.3% of his passes in a screen play (wide receiver screen). 12.8% in 2021 and 11.9% in 2020. An increase in plays the fan base noticeably called out as ineffective. If we bring in Leftwich’s year with Jameis Winston it looks even worse. Only 10.1% of passes were screen passes.
Now the number increase and decrease seems minimal but plays a larger role in how defenses align and stop this offense.
Now factor in that the play action aids in setting up the deep shots and suddenly numbers really start to matter. This season Brady only attempted a deep shot on 9.4% of his passes. Compare that to 2021 (11.4%) and 2020 (14.9%) and the drop off from year to year with Leftwich getting more and more control of the offense starts to show though.
Leftwich essentially phased out the “no risk it no biscuit” that his mentor tried to bestow on him. Even if not intentionally. So he didn’t “just forget” he’s been forgetting more and more.
Now I can agree that there are lots of factors that aid in the losing effort. Hurt players, miscommunications, dropped balls, bad passes, and many others don’t help. But what rubs salt in the wounds of some fans is that there were mic’ed up players calling out the play before the snap and mentioning that certain lineups and motions gave away the play call. That’s ALL on Byron Leftwich. If, as fans, we can see the line up on tv and know that play, well that’s an issue.
Other things fans have rightfully called out are the repeating of ineffective plays right after another. I witnessed one game where Leftwich called three wide receiver screens in a row. The third Godwin was dropped at the line of scrimmage and they were forced to punt.
Or routes that seemed to crowd each other, none of which looked designed to get anyone open or take advantage of space.
Now, this team was missing a few key pieces it had last year (so no not the same players) but what makes a great coordinator stand out from a good one is the ability to adapt to the new players strengths and overcome the loss of other players. This season there were not any injuries that an appropriate scheme would not have solved.
So Kurt, please spare us the theatrics. Buccaneers fans aren’t going to give you an inch on this one.
One last thing, without Bruce Arians to guide and direct Leftwich he falters. Just ask the Cardinals. This will be the second time Arians has retired and left someone holding the Byron bag.
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