Byron Leftwich and Tim Tebow Are The Most Underrated Quarterbacks in the NFL

Omar BrownCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2010

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 19:  Byron Leftwich #4 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Mettle, you either have the mettle of a champion or you don't, it is that simple. There is no if ands or buts about it.

Byron Leftwich and Tim Tebow have proven their mettle as champions, their mettle as clutch quarterbacks.

There is no way I can convince anyone who refuses to believe otherwise, but that has never stopped me from trying before.

When it comes to Byron Leftwich, folks like to believe Byron had his chance? I tend to take exception to that notion.

In Jacksonville Byron was treated like a red headed stepchild while carrying the ball and chain of Jack Del Rios’ ultra conservative scheme on offense.

There is a reason why the Jaguars share the record of going the most games without scoring 30 or more points.

Jack Del Rio is a defensive minded coach who seems to prefer allowing his defense to take the glory off the field. For years I have seen his own offense have to go through both the opponent’s defense as well as Del Rio’s scheme that has held back the reigns on the offense.

There is a reason why Del Rio has only won a dozen games the past two seasons. Or why he had his team quit on him to the point of having one leader after another being jettisoned from the team.

It has gotten to the point of having actually having to rebuild a team that he rebuilt when he showed up.

The fall out between Byron and Jack Del Rio apparently occurred on the sideline of the Texan game. Byron and Del Rio had a shouting match.

The impression I got was Byron may have finally had enough and lost it to the point of actually going nuclear on Del Rio for making him use his cannons as pea shooters.

That was the last regular season game Byron got to start. He was benched after the game, and vindictively cut the following season just a few days before the season started, after being acknowledged as starter and led to believe that he could actually possess control of the offense that season.

Byron, despite having Del Rio pulling in the reigns on his game still managed to wind up being a top ten QB the last season he actually got to play.

His only other opportunity to start came last season in Tampa. Byron managed to jack one of the worst offenses in the league to being top 5 before the coaching staff sabotaged Byron during Week-3 by pulling in the reigns on the offense until Josh Johnson came out, then they immediately opened it back up.

Late in the fourth quarter in just one drive Johnson had more yards than the entire rushing and passing offense had combined the entire game. And this was a top five offense coming into the game.

Former Buccaneers Rookie Josh Freeman stupidly admitted that Byron was only brought into Tampa as a smoke screen so he could be landed in the draft. The smoke screen backfired when Byron won the starting role however.

In between the Jaguars and Buc’s Byron managed to have a stellar session filling in for Ben on a few occasions while helping the Steelers during their Super Bowl run in 2008.

Point, as a starter being is that Byron was not only a top-10 quarterback prior to being benched, but top five as well. Yet for some reason the NFL refuses to give him his shot to take control of a team.

"Blacks get two types of opportunities to play quarterback in the NFL: a chance and a 'nigger' chance," says James Harris Former Jacksonville Jaguars GM

Fact remains black prototypical pocket passers have not been given the same opportunities as their white counter parts have, unless they are just too old to run once they have established themselves as mobile quarterbacks. It is what it is.

Now we see an alleged habitual rapist on the verge of having his suspension reduced this Friday from six games to four.

This of course will further limit the exposure Byron has a starter showing what he is capable of when he has full control of a solid offense in this league.

Your prototypical pocket passers rule in this league, all things are not equal, mobility is not a substitute for being a prototypical pocket passer.

That is just how it is, so when I see Byron shut down time and time again when in a position to threaten the white kings of the proverbial hill in this league well it has me scratching my head. Speaking of scratching my head this brings me to a USA report on what Jon Gruden said Sunday.

"Dixon has mobility, he's been there in that system,'' "I realize he threw a couple of interceptions against Denver" Gruden said.

"All they have to do is win like they won in Ben's rookie year, run the ball, play good defense -- don't turn it over and make some timely plays in the passing game," Gruden says."

"Dennis Dixon can do that.''

The fact remains Dixon proved that he could not do that.

Hearing this from Gruden actually has me wondering why he possesses such a totally whacked out analysis.

Grudens’ take not only lacks any merit whatsoever, but it seems to emerge from the fringes of an ulterior motive.

Dixon cost the Steelers the Denver game with his two turnovers and then with his sack in the red zone on what should have been a simple first down conversion for a heralded mobile quarterback. Instead converting a first down, the ball was turned over on downs.

Last year when Dixon got his shot to start he threw another interception that cost the Steelers the game against the Ravens.

To be honest I don't think that guy can even read a defense. Now instead of having a guy like Byron out there who can, Gruden wants Mike Tomlin to carry Dixon with a rushing offense ranked in the bottom half of the league last season? Add to that Steelers lost their starting right tackle this offseason?

The Steelers do not have the No. 1 rushing offense they had when Ben Roethlisberger was carried by the rushing offense on the Bus. The Bus retired, and the Steelers have been committed to being a pass happy offense ever since.

I am beside myself hearing Jon Gruden appear totally out of character as an analyst, why it sounds as if he is auditioning for the dopey character role in Snow White.

Does Jon even realize that Dixon has taken more sacks than Byron Leftwich so far this preseason? Mobile quarterbacks typically get sacked more than pocket passers. That is just how it is.

Does Jon even realize that Byron has proven to be clutch where as Dixon does not even have the mettle to remain composed in the pocket?

More often than not Dixons’ scrambling ability is nothing more than the reflection of his scrambled brains under the heat of pressure in the pocket.

Its like that old drug commercial where they show you an egg and say "this is your brain and this is your brain on drugs" as they throw the egg in a frying pan; well Dixons’ brains gets scrambled when the heat is on.
Am I insinuating Jon is a racist?

Hell no, I think Gruden is phenomenal, he gets a preseason pass from me. He like so many others has been consumed by a wrong collective consensus.

You know the same wrong collective consensus that said the world was flat, or that the sun orbited around the earth.

Am I insinuating that the NFL racist? Hell no, has Byron however gotten a legitimate chance up to this point in his career? Hell no.

This brings me to my next point, there is a collective consensus that suggests Tim Tebow is raw, a project that will take years to develop; this despite Tebow having phenomenal success against the toughest competition in college football.

Tebow was not only phenomenal but he is actually considered to be arguably the greatest player to ever play at the collegiate level at any position.

College players build the NFL and if arguably the greatest player to ever play at the collegiate level, cannot hack it at this level, what hope does any college player coming to this level have? Well we all know that answer and is why so many fans are going to be shocked when these two quarterbacks get their opportunity to start this season.

Byron Leftwich and Tim Tebow have been compared to each other for their throwing motion, yet both have a virtually identical wind up throwing motions as highly esteemed legend Brett Favre.

Now Tim and Byron have a few other things in common besides their confident and laid back throwing styles.  They are both devoted to their craft spending countless hours above and beyond the call of duty as students of the game who take nothing for granted.

There is no doubt in my mind that both of these guys possess the mettle of a champion at the pro level in the NFL. The passion for the game that they both share is second to none.

Once Leftwich and Tebow actually get their opportunity to actually prove it, the wrong collective consensus can be made right again. But until then it will be one article after another denoting their ability and potential. It drives me up the wall. 


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