Buccaneers Fire OC Byron Leftwich

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich
Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, according to Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud. Stroud added this move was part of Tampa Bay's plan to make "sweeping changes" to the coaching staff following an 8-9 regular season and Wild Card loss.  

Leftwich joined the Buccaneers as offensive coordinator under head coach Bruce Arians in 2019; Leftwich previously was a quarterbacks coach under Arians in Arizona. In 2020, Arians announced he delegated the offense to Leftwich, a season they finished with a third-best 19.8% offensive DVOA.

This season was Leftwich's worst season by DVOA with Tom Brady at the helm. Most skill position mainstays from Leftwich's tenure--including Brady, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin--posted new lows in both DVOA and DYAR relative to the last three years. Tampa Bay's 18.2 points per game were 25th in the league this season and their worst mark since 2014. 


33 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2023, 3:10pm

#1 by BigRichie // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:37am

If "sweeping changes" means they're bringing in some hotshot college OC to radically revamp things, then I understand. Otherwise, I don't get it.

Points: 0

#3 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:02pm

They're gonna bring back Todd Monken and wonder why Bowles can't get them out of mediocrity.

Points: 1

#2 by BlueStarDude // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:56am

A BS move.

Points: 1

#4 by theslothook // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:04pm

Its still the season for scapegoat firings. 

This one is particularly ripe with irony when you consider how Leftwich went from a hot coaching candidate to out of a job. Not coincidentally, his quarterback is 46 going on 47 and posted a career dud. 


Points: 4

#6 by Noahrk // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:35pm

The playcalling, though. For a team that ran so little, they were horribly predictable about it when they did. It was kind of funny, actually.

Points: 1

#8 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:15pm

It's almost like when the offensive line goes from playing 90+% with the same starting 5 to only 1 starting player playing 90+%, you just might be limited in your ability to call plays.

Some part of me thinks that they fired Leftwich because he actually came out and openly admitted that. Can't really imagine it'd sit well with players when the OC's out there basically saying "uh, yeah, I can't do my job because that dimwad over there can't run that play."

Points: 0

#20 by Noahrk // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:39pm

That's one thing, but stubbornly running on first down for two yards and then going pass-pass time and time again is bad playcalling. It reminds me of the Dave Shula OC years in Miami, when they would always run for two yards on second-and-ten. Sure, the talent to run wasn't there anyway, but being so predictable really compounds things.

Points: 2

#29 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 20, 2023 - 12:14pm

I can see this as being a Bowles problem as much as a Leftwich problem - he wasn't like that under Arians. Much like Daboll had to keep trying to "establish the run" when the line sucked at run blocking. McDermott learned. Bowles has shown he doesn't.

Points: 1

#9 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:19pm

 Not coincidentally, his quarterback is 46 going on 47 and posted a career dud.

Also not coincidentally the offensive line went from 2 seasons of nearly perfect health to just about as far away from that as you can imagine.

Points: 1

#11 by KnotMe // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:55pm

And the QB was still 8th in DVOA. (higher in DYAR since they couldn't run)

Points: 2

#14 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:13pm

Pretty much the worst thing you can combine a bad OL with is a bad RB, and that's what Fournette is. The problem was that Fournette's a good pass-blocking RB. And so you end up with a totally dysfunctional offense. Scrambled OLs often times work out better run-blocking because they're acting rather than reacting, so the communication's easier. But if your RB sucks, that's a losing situation anyway. So now you're left passing with limited receivers and using an RB as a blocker.

Tampa was really screwed personnel-wise this year.

Points: 0

#19 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:39pm

No, limited meaning "restricted in size, amount, or extent; few, small, or short" rather than "not great in ability or talents." Because guys ended up staying in protection more.

Points: 1

#23 by BigRichie // Jan 19, 2023 - 6:13pm

Do you have data for this? I didn't see much of Tampa Bay (after Week 1 vs. the Cowboys) 'cuz God they were awful to watch, but when I did catch them I didn't notice any max protects. Every pass play had 4-5 guys out in the pattern. With a fair share of the '4 guys out' winding up at 5 once Fournette leaked out after initially staying in to block.

Points: 0

#26 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 6:56pm

Not really, it's from film breakdowns. I think some of them were in Ben Muth's column here, now that I think about it. Max protect (TE + RB in to block) isn't exactly what I was talking about though. When you've got iffy protection it's not that hard for the defense to essentially "lock" the RB into not really being a threat by showing blitz and then backing out (with a bit of a delay). So the RB essentially ends up holding for a moment and either not getting out on a hot route or having a really, really minimal hot route.

With an OL that's working well together stuff like that can be anticipated or just avoided.

Points: 0

#32 by RickD // Jan 27, 2023 - 3:08pm

Godwin and Evans were fine - each gained more than 1000 yards receiving in spite of missing time.  Fournette was a poor runner but reasonable as a receiver.  But the depth wasn't there.  Julio Jones was supposed to add depth, but he missed about half the season. The Bucs got very little out of the TE position this season.  Cameron Brate didn't make anybody forget Gronk.  

Things were so bad with receiving options, at one point they split Brady out wide!  

Back to the original point: I'd agree with those who pointed to the line as the source of the problems, as opposed to the WR corps. Even with a lack of depth, two stud WRs should be able to accomplish a lot. 


Points: 0

#17 by DGL // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:03pm

In this league it is found good from time to time to fire an assistant coach to encourage the others.

Points: 3

#5 by mehllageman56 // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:20pm

Bowles kept Chan Gailey for two years, (which didn't work out) but he's had a new OC every other year that he's been a head coach.  

If I were the Jets I'd have called Leftwich already.  Not sure if Byron would pick up though.

Points: 2

#7 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:49pm

I hear Adam Gase is available.

Points: 0

#10 by Tom Tulpa // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:30pm

It feels like the Super Bowl window has closed for the Bucs, so detonating the team seems appropriate. The offensive play calling was awful, and the red zone performance was shockingly bad, especially considering the Football Gods inexplicably favored us with the Old GOAT at QB. The only thing that worked was two-minute drill from Brady. The team underperformed on both sides of the ball and was totally unprepared for almost all their big games. The only thing different, aside from a less capable offensive line and some injury regression, was the ascension of Todd Bowles to HC. This season I saw what the Jets fans saw in him.

This move deprives us of/saves us from Leftwich as future HC (I'll decide in a few seasons). It's worth pointing out that Leftwich is well thought of and was Arians' protege, he'll make a useful addition to somebody's staff.

We'll always have 2020, back to the Buc Basement for awhile...hey look, it's Dirk Koetter's old golf clubs and Chris Simm's spleen, preserved in formaldehyde...check out this autographed photo of Dan Orlovsky stepping out of the back of the end zone...hello darkness my old friend.

Points: 5

#13 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:02pm

aside from a less capable offensive line and some injury regression

"Aside from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

Percentage of preseason starting OL snaps:

TB 2020: 93.5%
TB 2021: 96.4%
TB 2022: 58.5%

That wasn't "some" injury regression, that was a full fledged smackdown by the injury gods. "Some" injury regression would be like having a typical year. Regression to the mean on injuries actually means recognizing that in both '20 and '21, the Bucs were actually worse than they appeared. Meaning the actual significantly below average OL continuity in '22 isn't nearly the dropoff from '20 and '21 that it appears.

Points: 0

#12 by KnotMe // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:56pm

I guess the conclusion is Arians was the real offensive genius. 

(Edit: Sarcasm doesn't travel over the internet)

Points: -1

#15 by theslothook // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:13pm

That plus Brady finally aged and the offensive line, per Pat, was in tatters 

Points: 0

#16 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:54pm

The Bucs OL was obviously likely to take a step back in '22 with losing both guards (Marpet to a surprising retirement, Cappa to an $11M/yr deal with the Bucs having zippo cap space). Trading for Shaq Mason and drafting a 2nd round guard helps, absolutely, but when your new vet OL ends up being the guy who plays the most snaps on the team, that's, uh, bad. And it might've even been worse than I had above if you call Stinnie the preseason expected starter.

Midseason comments from some of the replacement OL actually suggested that losing Marpet was a bigger deal than it might've seemed, too, as apparently he handled a lot of the communication between linemen.

But the key to remember is that it wasn't just that the OL had worse-than-average continuity - it's that you're comparing it to Tampa '20 and '21, when they had near perfect continuity. So it looks like this massive dropoff, but in actuality it's compounded by "great injury luck, great injury luck, bad injury luck."

Points: 3

#27 by BJR // Jan 20, 2023 - 6:42am

Given the context, I don't think it is at all obvious that Brady suffered age-related decline. Obviously his level fell from borderline MVP the previous two seasons, but it was still well ahead of 2019.

If there's a criticism of Brady it could be that he is simply unwilling to take hits anymore, but the times I watched the Bucs I didn't see anything to suggest the decision making, quick release, or arm strength was in significant decline. My only consistent take from watching them was that the running game was hot garbage, and Brady rarely had any time to throw.

Points: 1

#28 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 20, 2023 - 9:34am

Brady to an extent always has, but especially now, needs a really good offensive line or he doesn't work at all.

The only team which has a really good offensive line who maybe/sorta needs him is SF. But would he sign on for a QB system who can make any warm body work so long as they don't mind having their knee be snapped off in week 7?

Points: 1

#33 by RickD // Jan 27, 2023 - 3:10pm

If I were the Niners, I'd stick with the newer late-round pick who 'only wins' before rolling the dice with Brady. 

Points: 0

#30 by theslothook // Jan 20, 2023 - 3:58pm

I mentioned in the discord channel after Brady was humiliated by SF. Like you, I didnt see any obvious signs of decline physically.

But what I did see was a player that was slower mentally. That all of his movement and decision making just felt weaker and more ponderous. This led to responses suggesting that even mental accuity in a football context starts to decline as you age. I mean, Brady is closer to 50 than he is 40!. Thats usually the age where regular adults start to feel declines across the board

Points: 0

#31 by BJR // Jan 21, 2023 - 6:03am

Yes, to be clear, I'm not suggesting Brady is not suffering from any age-related decline whatsoever. Of course, at his age it is probable. Just that it's not conclusive right now. There are other more compelling reasons for the Bucs relatively poor offensive performance this season. 

Points: 0

#21 by Spanosian Magn… // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:54pm

I still think he's going to be a good head coach someday, probably soon. Hey Chargers, it's not too late to fire Staley and hire Leftwich. Please. Pretty please.

Points: 1

Save 10%
& Support Cale
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Cale Clinton. Use promo code CALE to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Cale.