Leftwich: "When I get home, I'll probably scream.'
Byron Leftwich said he was trying to control his emotions but found it hard not to show his excitement over being named the Bucs' starting quarterback Saturday.
"I'm very excited. Very excited,'' Leftwich said. "When I get home, I'll probably scream in the livingroom and let all my emotions out. I've been holding them in. To work my tail off to get back to this point again to be a starter on Week 1, that's what I wanted and I'll take full advantage of it and I think there will be a lot of good things for the Bucs this year.''
Bucs coach Raheem Morris called Leftwich and Luke McCown to his office Saturday morning to inform them of his decision.
"It was almost like you were going to see the Principal,'' Leftwich said. "You sit there and he was straight forward with us and gave us the news and I was happy. At the same time, I understand. I felt Luke. Like we said, we're in this thing together. Our goal is to win a championship and it all starts with Week 1.''
Leftwich, 29, is coming off a shaky performance in the Bucs' 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins Thursday in which he missed several open receivers. But Morris said his errant throw to tight end Kellen Winslow was due in part to Winslow running the wrong route.
"When I watched the film, I wanted to make sure I was going to the right place with the ball,'' Leftwich said. "I've never been an inaccurate passer. I know I'll hit those passes, I'm not worried about that. The great thing about it is that I was able to get to the right place with the ball. Some of those were on my third and fourth reads that I got to, and that's what I wanted to see. The balls that I missed? I missed them. Thank God it was preseason and not the regular season. But I learned a lot from it and I'll hit those when they count. You want to hit them in the preseason, but I've never been an inaccurate guy.''
McCown, who did not take advantage of his best opportunity to become a starter in his fifth season with the Bucs, said he was surprised by the decision.
"Yeah, a little bit I guess,'' McCown said. "You have to continue to believe you did everything
you were asked to do. I still believe that. But like I’ve said all along, once they name the starter, it’s about whatever is best for this team to win ballgames. Byron’s the starter. And I’m going to do everything I can to help him be the best starter he can be. And at the same time, prepare and be ready to
play if I’m called upon.''
It's the first time since 2006 since Leftwich has begun the season as a starting quarterback. He was released by the Jaguars in 2007. After a failed stint in Atlanta, where he suffered an ankle injury, he resurfaced as Ben Roethlisberger's backup for the Super Bowl champion Steelers.
"I just go out and be myself,'' Leftwich said. "And I try to tell those guys, "Hey, if they're going to get open, I'm going to get you the ball. I don't care where you're at on the field, I'll get you the ball. And it's my job to get us to the right checks and all those things. In this offense, the quarterback is asked to do a lot. He's asked to always get the team in great plays, which is something that I like...I just try to keep those guys on their toes and tell them, "Hey, you never know who's going to get the ball.
"I'm used to leading a bunch of men and I actually like being in that position.''