Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Nov 2006

Ankle Injury Puts Leftwich's Season, Future in Question

Does anyone else think this seems fishy? And even if Byron Leftwich is only 85-90 percent, isn't that still better than a fully healthy David Garrard? Len Pasquarelli reports that some Jaguars officials don't believe Leftwich is the long-term answer, which might also explain the quarterback change.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 16 Nov 2006

38 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2006, 4:26am by Yaguar


by SlipperyPete (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 1:14pm

Did anyone vote in the poll in the article? The Jaguars should build their future around David Gerrard? Fans just piss me off sometimes.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 1:14pm

So much for Jacksonville being able to seriously challenge the Colts. Some team is going to get a very good, young quarterback.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 1:27pm

I think the 85-90% number comes from Lefwich himself, and not the doctors. If they're recommending surgery, I would imagine his condition is worse than he's saying, and that the bigger issue is the long-term effect of playing with bone fragments in his ankle - think Chad Pennington finishing the 2003 season with a torn rotator cuff (or, "with a shoulder", to use modern parlance). What is it with these Marshall QBs, anyway?

by Al H (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 1:59pm

The 90% number came from Leftwich and Del Rio. I don't agree with this personally, I've come to actively despise Garrard's play, and if we let Leftwich go, Garrard will not be the long-term starter, we'd probably go for a free agent QB to take the role instead.

Now to figure out who will actually be available in the next year or two.....and how to get the receivers to CATCH THE DAMN BALL!


by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:10pm

Either Leftwich is has a career-threatening injury, or the Jacksonville staff has lost its collective mind. If Leftwich is up for grabs, I can think of at least half a dozen teams who'd be happy to acquire him.

by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:13pm

I think the assessment of "very good, young QB" for Leftwich is very generous though. Even the "young" part is chronological only and doesn't account for the beatings/injuries. I think the Jags need to be thinking about a new QB regardless. If the right prospect came along they'd probably be wise to take the kind of chance that the Broncos did with Jay Cutler, even if the need isn't immediate.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:24pm

My draft day nightmare may be about to disappear -- Minnesota bungling their pick, leading to Jax grabbing Leftwich, and the resulting overpay for Kyle Boller -- it would be a riot if Ozzie wound up getting Leftwich after all!

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:55pm

The Jags coaches have clearly done their homework. All Garrard does is win, and they want a football team of winners. Keep choppin' wood, Del Rio.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:03pm

I can think of at least half a dozen teams who’d be happy to acquire him.

I know what you're saying, but there really aren't that many teams in the league with glaring QB problems

Tampa Bay (Simms has started less than 2 years worth of games)
Buffalo (Losman has started less than 2 years worth of games)
Cleveland (Frye has started less than 2 years worth of games)
Miami (Are they going to give up on Culpepper for another QB with a leg injury?)

by Sam! (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:17pm

RE: Leftwich's 24-20 record as a starter. It's fine to include his first season in his record, because he did indeed play those games. But it was the general consensus that the 2003 Jaguars were not going to be very good. They were still recovering from the Coughlin-induced Salary Cap Hell and had no depth to speak of on either side of the ball, really. Jimmy Smith missed the first 4 weeks I think that year with the suspension (and never looked right after that). The other wide receivers were: JJ Stokes (!!), Matt Hatchette, Cortez Hankton, Troy Edwards, and J. Redmond whoever that was. I mean in Leftwich's first game as starter, Hatchette and JJ Stokes were the starting wideouts... how successful do you really expect him to be?

Everybody said that we kept blaming the receivers, but maybe it's been Leftwich's fault this whole time. Well Garrard has playe for 3 weeks and guess what? They're still dropping the damn football!

Is the the longterm answer? Maybe not... only because he can't seem to stay healthy. When healthy, he has progressed steadily each year.

by Sam! (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:17pm

And the Jags were winless w/ Brunell as starter (0-3) that year as well.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:21pm

Perhaps I am completely ridiculous, but if Leftwich were the Viking quarterback, they might have 6-7 wins right now. I make that statement with absolutely no facts to back it up nor attempt to legitimize it in any way. I'm just tired of Brad Johnson.

by Sam! (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:21pm

The one thing I did like in the article was that it kind of put to rest the idea that Leftwich was simply benched because Del Rio was unsastisfied with his play but needed an "out" to start Garrard. It also puts an end to the talk that Leftwich is healthy enough to play if Andrews says he shouldn't even walk on it if possible for the next 7-10 days. Or else the conspiracy is bigger than we thought.... dun dun dunn......

by Sam! (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:22pm

I don't know Pacifist, don't your guys have problems catching passes too?

by Tampa Bay Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:26pm

#9 - Gotta add BAL to that list. Maybe even KC, NYJ, GB, and MIA. JAX too, but they're special. :^) I think James' statement is reasonable.

by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:27pm


To your list I'd add Oakland (Leftwich can throw the Deep Ball!), KC and the Ravens and maybe even Green Bay (all of whom have aging veterans who'll need replacing sooner rather than later).

The consensus around here seems to be that Cleveland are a rising team who need adequate to good QB to make a playoff run next year. I've not seen the Browns this season, but if that's the case it looks a good fit.

The Crennel/Savage team will be in year 3 next term ,and will be expected to show progress. If they don't think Frye can offer that next season, is there any reason to think they'll stick with him?

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:27pm

14. Well, yes, that's true. I guess I don't know if the Vikes would have a better chance with Leftwich bouncing passes off Troy Williamson's hands or Johnson.

by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:28pm

Re: 9

I would add Green Bay, potentially Washington depending on how Campbell plays this year, potentially Dallas depending on how Romo plays, KC(neither Green nor Huard is a long term solution at this point) and Baltimore(McNair is not a long term solution) to that list.

A 26 year old QB who can play at a solid starting level is a valuable commodity - while I don't think that he would bring quite as much interest as Drew Brees did, I think it would be similar.

by theory (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:32pm

I'm going to agree with #6 and the unnamed Jags officials - Leftwich isn't that good. Every time I see him play, I see a QB who's innacurate and has no idea what "touch" is. His career completion percent is only 58.7, and the only season where he had a decent TD:INT ration was 2005. His DPAR that year was a modest 43.2, right along side that of Drew Bledsoe. If the Jags had any passing game whatsoever, they'd be a Super Bowl contender (and would've crushed Indy in their earlier meeting, and wouldn't have lost to the Texans twice). He'd be an upgrade in Minnesota or Cleveland, but if the Jags end up going for Damon Huard, Matt Schaub, Chris Simms, etc... I really wouldn't blame them.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:42pm

Detroit? Whaaaa? Look, it's true the Lions have a number of on-field deficiencies, but QB isn't one of them. The passing game with Kitna at the controls has been pretty good this season; it may not be great, but it's certainly not a glaring problem. What the Lions need, among other things, are quality OL and DL, and Leftwich can't play either position.

Besides, Leftwich does seem to get hurt frequently. Until the OL is fixed in Detroit, we need a QB who can take a lot of hits and get back up.

What was it that he hurt when he was at Marshall and his linemen were carrying him to the line of scrimmage? I'm just wondering if he has some kind of congenital problem and so his ankles/lower legs/legs will always be an issue for him.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:51pm

Re: 15, 16, & 18

I did list Miami and Oakland.

I don't think there's any way in hell that NY gives up on Pennington, especially after drafting Clemens high in the 2nd round this past year.

Same thing goes for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers was a 1st round draft pick and has all of 19 career passing attempts. You don't give up on a 1st round pick that fast.

And the same thing goes for Washington. There's no way they give up on Campbell after less than half a season (assuming he starts from here on out) when you moved up last year to take him in the 1st round.

And I thought about Baltimore and KC, but Leftwich isn't going to go to a team to sit on the bench for a year or two. Green is good enough that I doubt they're looking to replace him right now (drafting a good prospect would probably be a good idea, though). And McNair just got an $11M signing bonus with Baltimore, so I can't imagine they'd be willing to take that cap hit.

by Randy S (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:54pm

Oakland probably needs a more mobile QB, what with the sieve of an OL.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 3:58pm

This is just my opinion, but I think that McNair has always been viewed as "our best shot before the window closes -- two years' max." Leftwich lets the window stay open somewhat longer, and has been a more consistent QB than Boller.

Whomever replaces McNair is going to have to go through a year or two of cap hell, even as quick as Ozzie and Co. have been in rebuilding the team since the cap crash of 2001.

by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 4:04pm

What was it that he hurt when he was at Marshall and his linemen were carrying him to the line of scrimmage? I’m just wondering if he has some kind of congenital problem and so his ankles/lower legs/legs will always be an issue for him.

Leftwich broke his left tibia (the lower leg bone) in that game at Marshall.

I think Leftwich repeatly suffers lower-leg injuries for two reasons: 1) he's oversized, putting more strain on his legs, and 2) he's relatively immobile, and takes straight-on shots to the lower body when in passing position.

by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 4:46pm


I missed Oakland. Sorry. As for the 'Skins, did Joe Gibbs ever see a veteran QB he didn't like?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 4:55pm

Re: 25

Touche, but I don't think Leftwich is nearly old or overhyped enough to trigger Snyder's pavlovian response.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 5:30pm


The FO game-charting has likely traced Leftwich's injury problems to a tendency not to throw the ball until just before he gets hit. According to the gamebook for the Washington-Jacksonville game where Leftwich originally got the injury, he was hit 7 times in addition to 4 sacks. Against Houston, he was hit 5 times and sacked once.

by Rollo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 7:10pm

I hope Leftwich makes it back this season, and comes on strong, and its fairly clear to me that he's better at this point in his career than Garrard. However, I think the team's concerns are valid - every time Leftwich gets on a roll and seems to be really progressing, he gets injured. I do think his size and immobility contribute to his continuing leg injuries. If its between him playing hurt and ineffectively, and seeing his very good backup get some playing time, I think its not a bad decision to go with the latter. If nothing else, you gain information on your QB situation for 2007, and with the state of the Jags' passing game they aren't going far in the playoffs if they make a wild card anyways.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 8:15pm

Detroit either doesn't need a quarterback, or Matt Millen was insane for signing Josh McCown. When Peter King becomes vexed about why the Lions didn't select Leinart, I think, "because the draft comes after the free agency period, in which Detroit signed Kitna and McCown."

by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 9:56pm

Re: Lions & Leinart
I originally thought, well, nobody would expect Young or Leinart to fall to the Lions, so the QB signings looked like a good deal. And the Lions do play in a division where the pre-season favorite was going to start Rex Grossman, so they had a shot.

However, on draft day, I really wish they had had the courage to grab him and throw the previous plans out the window. Especially since Ernie Sims still doesn't seem likely to make it through four years in the NFL, much less play at a high level for that time. [Sims is playing well, but his next concussion could end his career.]

by OMO (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 10:17pm

Re: 24

You can add to that list: "a very long stride to deliver the football" which sticks his front leg out very far and increases the probability of a Cobra Kai sweep the leg injury via a defensive player.

a la Kimo Von Leggenhacken

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:20am

24, 31:

Really, the next QB coach Leftwich has ought to train him to throw the ball faster when he sees someone coming at him, and try to rework his mechanics so he doesn't have to take such a long stride.

Does anyone else see the possibility of the Falcons, Jaguars, and Raiders getting involved in a three-way trade that sends Vick to Oakland, Leftwich to the Falcons, and Schaub to Jacksonville?

by Colin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:01am

29 & 30: I've never heard this discussed, but Leinart to the Lions probably would have had the added value of salvaging the Mike Williams pick.What's a sixth quarterback in mini-camp, anyway?

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:49pm

I really don't know what people see in Byron Leftwich. He was playing well below replacement level and never did anything to "trick" fans along the lines of an amazing clutch performance or Super Bowl victory. He's a mediocre guy who's never done anything remarkable in the league, and the Jags would be smart to let somebody else make the mistake of overpaying him. Draft a young guy to develop and hope the defense can keep that garbage attack in the game.

by Kalyan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:57pm

Does someone know if Leftwich is in the last year of his contract and becomes a UFA next year? If so, can all this not trying to hard-ball during negotiations?

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:48pm

Leftwich's contract runs out after 2007.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 2:50am

Leftwich would last 1 game probably in a Martz offense in Detroit. In fact he is a terrible fit for a Martz offense with his slow-ass wind-up.

As a big Leftwich fan-I was hoping the Lions would go with McMahon in 2003 so we could have a shot at Leftwich...but I am beginning to come around to the idea that Leftwich is a mediocre QB...I mean his career numbers are not that better then a certain Joey Harrington (who was throwing to terrible WRs-except for a young Roy Williams).

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 4:26am

37, you said Leftwich is a mediocre QB and his numbers aren't much better than Harrington's. You're right on one out of two. Leftwich is a mediocre QB, but his numbers are definitely better than Harrington's.

Leftwich actually gets DPAR points and stuff, while Harrington is always replacement level. Leftwich is actually worth having, and there are plenty of teams that would be happy to start him. However, I don't think he'll ever become anything more than a better-than-average but injury-prone quarterback.