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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris calls quarterback situation a 'good problem'

TAMPA — Raheem Morris would like to see Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown do something Thursday to win the starting quarterback job.

Failing that, his hope is that one of them falls on their facemask.

You know, lose a fumble. Take a sack. Throw an interception. Maybe even all three.

"This is a good problem," the Bucs coach said of the great quarterback debate. "We're not sitting looking at two guys that just went 2-of-14. We're looking at two guys who had some pretty good games, had some pretty good throws. We're excited about it. It is a good problem. It was like, 'Man. Would somebody choke?' "

Morris told his team Monday that the Bucs will delay naming a starting quarterback until after Thursday night's preseason home opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Leftwich will start the game — as he did last week at Jacksonville — and play into the second quarter. McCown will relieve him and return after halftime. Both will play about the same number of snaps.

The delayed decision didn't particularly sit well with either quarterback.

Leftwich had a slight edge heading into last week's game against the Jaguars, but coaches want to make sure he can continue to get rid of the ball on time in the face of a live rush before the Bucs host Dallas in the regular-season opener Sept. 13.

McCown may have narrowed the gap with a two-touchdown performance in Saturday's 24-23 win over the Jaguars.

Leftwich said Monday that it's important a starting quarterback is named after Thursday to give the first-team offense two weeks to prepare for the regular-season opener.

"I think eventually, after this week, they'll have to make a decision because I've never seen a team have success going into Week 1 trying to figure out who their quarterback is going to be," Leftwich said. "You've got to make a decision, you've got to go with it, and that's the only way you can get one guy to lead a bunch of guys."

After two preseason games, McCown's numbers are better. He has gone 10-of-17 for 70 yards (58.8 percent) with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 107.2. Leftwich is 12-of-26 for 124 yards (46.2 percent) with one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 73.2.

McCown led the Bucs to 14 points, all against the Jaguars. Leftwich led the Bucs to 13 points. Both have been victimized by drops and bad field position.

"You just can't pick up a stat sheet and say, 'Whoop. There we go. That's our guy,' " Morris said.

When training camp began, Morris was adamant about naming a starting quarterback heading into the third preseason game, when starters traditionally play into the third quarter.

But he isn't worried about appearing indecisive.

"I'm not really concerned about that — the indecisive look," Morris said. "I want to get it right. I want it to be the right one.

"We could've forced it this week if we wanted to. We could've gone and forced it, but we didn't have to. There's no need to. Just let it play out and let it happen."

Morris indicated again Monday that whichever quarterback is not named the starter might not automatically inherit the No. 2 spot. That still could to go first-round pick Josh Freeman.

"Ultimately, we know the 10-year plan is obviously the big, giant, curly-haired kid out there wearing No. 5 (Freeman)," Morris said. "So you've got to get him ready and have a plan for him as well. There's a couple different looks on that one, too, that I don't care to share with you."

Leftwich said he won't enter Thursday's game focusing on the battle and risk forcing passes into coverage. For McCown, it's like an overtime period he can win.

"It's going to be a tough decision," McCown said. "We're competitors, and we'll continue to compete."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris calls quarterback situation a 'good problem' 08/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:33am]
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