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Is Byron Leftwich A Good Head Coaching Candidate?

Are you sold on the idea that great offensive coordinators make great head coaches?
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Byron Leftwich NFL Head Coach

Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

We're halfway through the NFL season, and it wouldn't be November without the rumor mills churning. Usually, there are a few head coaching positions in the NFL that are "likely" to open up. We've known this situation far too often over the last decade in Chicago, and here we are again. The name Byron Leftwich is floating around NFL watering-holes, or Twitter feeds in the COVID-19 era, which makes me wonder if he would even be a good head-coaching candidate.

Something Bears' fans have heard quite recently, the 2018 offseason to be precise, is bringing in a new and young head coach. They want someone with a modern offensive mind and scheme as well as experience calling plays. This sounds an awful lot like the pros attributed to Matt Nagy. The biggest con, which those excited for the hire forgot, was Nagy's final offensive coordinator duties in Kansas City. Did everyone forget the collapse against the Titans in the playoffs? I digress.

But Byron Leftwich isn't Matt Nagy and he shouldn't be treated as such.

Byron Leftwich the QB

JACKSONVILLE, FL-  DECEMBER 12:  Quarterback Byron Leftwich #7 of the Jacksonville Jaguars passes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the game at Alltel Stadium on December 12, 2004 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars won the game 22-3. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

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Leftwich played in the NFL for a decade for the Jaguars, Steelers, Falcons, and Buccaneers. He never played in a full 16-game season and was never more than just average. At the very least, he checks the box of experience playing at the NFL level.

Time in Tampa Bay

For the last four years, Leftwich has spent his time as an offensive coordinator. His first year was 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals before taking up the same position with Tampa Bay. In 2020, the Bucs brought in Tom Brady, and the match between his experience and Leftwich's offensive mindset was born. Obviously, the Bucs won it all last year, but Brady was the final missing piece.

Before Brady joined Tampa Bay, the Bucs' offense still ranked in the middle of the league. In certain categories like yards and points, they ranked in the top five. When you think about it, Jameis Winston's 5,000 passing yard season came with Leftwich at the helm of the offense. His offense works, clearly, and Brady is able to do something Winston couldn't: protect the football. It's all history from there, but where does that leave us?

Can Letfwich Be a Head Coach?

As we've seen with Matt Nagy, great offensive minds don't always make great head coaches. Sometimes the responsibilities of leading other men and having to worry about every aspect of the game of football are overwhelming. There are coaches in the NFL who can do it. Sean McVay is a great example. He is a young and offensive-minded coach who has no issues with leading the Rams. This feat is possible, but can it be done in Chicago?

I'm not sold on Leftwich just yet. Part of me thinks that if he didn't have Brady, this offense couldn't have matured the same way it did from 2019 to 2020. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Leftwich pulls a Josh McDaniels and stays with the Bucs underneath Bruce Arians and they continue to win championships. There is still the chance that Matt Nagy remains the Bears' head coach past 2021 and all of this speculation is for nothing. However, the third consecutive year with a four-game losing streak doesn't bode well for Nagy and his collaborations.