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Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich backs Winston

The former signal caller knows all too well about trials of playing QB in the league
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) warms up Sunday while offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich looks on. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Sep. 11

TAMPA — Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich knows some of the criticism Jameis Winston is receiving for his three interception performance in Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the 49ers may not be fair.

But he says it also goes with the territory.

“I mean, who are we kidding, right? We’re talking about the National Football League and the quarterback,’’ Leftwich said. “There’s no such thing as fair. There’s no such thing in this league when you’re talking about the quarterback position.

“There’s 10 other guys and it’s little things that go on during the game the quarterback is going to get the blame no matter what happens.’’

Leftwich made his debut calling plays for Bruce Arians Sunday and the Bucs scored only 10 points on offense. They committed four turnovers and converted one of four tries in the red zone into touchdowns.

Leftwich had called plays the second half of the 2018 season in Arizona after the Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. But Sunday was different because Leftwich has been entrusted with the job by Bruce Arians.

A year ago, Todd Monken called plays for the first time for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter in Week 1 vs. the Saints and the team responded by tying a club-record with 48 points.

“We’ve got to find a way to score more than 10 points,’’ Leftwich said. “That’s part of it. But we’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.’’

Leftwich’s message to Winston about Thursday night’s game at Carolina?

“Just go play,’’ he said. “The quarterback that mostly plays well wins, right? The team that doesn’t win, that quarterback feels just like Jameis has felt the last two days…You’ve got to find ways to win games in any stadium.’’

Bucs Preview 2019

A look ahead at Bruce Arians’ first year in Tampa Bay and a critical season for Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers.


  1. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) is part of a young core of defensive backs the Bucs hope will solve their long-running pass defense problems. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    John Romano: Could Sean Murphy-Bunting and the young Bucs finally be the answer?
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves kneels in the end zone after a Nov. 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was cut by the Bucs and picked up by the Texans. JOHN FROSCHAUER  |  AP
    A day after the Bucs release the former first-round pick, he finds a home.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith, seen here celebrating after breaking up a pass during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, was dismayed that fellow cornerback Vernon Hargreaves was released by the Bucs. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    The reaction to the release of the former 2016 first-round pick ranged from dismay to acceptance.
  4. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion (8) and his wife, launched their "Punts for Pups" program in partnership with the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center where they'll sponsor a dog for every punt he kicks within the 20-yard line. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Buccaneers punter and his wife will cover the fees of adopting a dog at the shelter every time he drops a punt inside the 20.
  5. Nearly 40 high school teams, including Durant and Sickles, and more than 1,000 girls participated in the Bucs inaugural flag football tournament earlier this year. Now the team has created an academic scholarship fund for girls who play.
    The team’s foundation has created a national scholarship fund for girls who play football.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) enters the field at Raymond James Stadium before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Last week’s game at Raymond James was the lowest-attended Bucs game in the stadium’s history. What’s your take on dwindling attendance?
  7. Vernon Hargreaves was the Bucs' first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. On Tuesday, the Bucs released him. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Rick Stroud: He didn’t hustle and they didn’t want to be hustled
  8. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) and the Houston Texans will play the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 21. ERIC CHRISTIAN SMITH  |  AP
    The league previously left the game’s date and time undetermined.
  9. Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett runs past Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in a game earlier this month. Before being released by the team Tuesday, Hargreaves produced one interception, four passes defensed and 39 tackles in nine games. SCOTT EKLUND  |  AP
    With the team releasing Vernon Hargreaves, only one of the seven players selected by Tampa Bay remains on the current roster
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves (28) on the field during warmups before the Bucs game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2019 in Tampa, FL. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay selected the former Florida Gators and Wharton High star with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.