Byron Leftwich Is Poised To Start for the Pittsburgh Steelers In Tampa

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Byron Leftwich Is Poised To Start for the Pittsburgh Steelers In Tampa
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office put up a huge smokescreen last season when they duped Byron Leftwich to sign with them so they can draft Josh Freeman.

"Oh yeah. I felt that all along. Even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me—they told me it was a smoke screen, everybody would think they didn't want a QB," said Josh Freeman while appearing in an NFL.com chat.  "They said they were ready to trade up. I think it worked out great. I was sitting there with my family and enjoying it, and I got to go to the team that I wanted to go to."

While Byron kept his end of the bargain

By beating everyone out for the starting role.

By jacking one of the worst offenses in the league last season into the top five.

By being the third-ranked QB in the league in TDs and yards combined, after also breaking the 10,000-yard mark on a 42-yard TD strike to Kellen Winslow.

The Bucs offensive coordinator put the breaks on the spread offense, and sent it crashing into the ground for a nose dive, with an ultra-conservative, predictable gameplan designed to do nothing more than bench the starting QB.

Shockingly enough, the offense was opened up late in fourth after Byron was benched.

The QB came in and managed to not only out rush the entire rushing offense the entire game, but managed to have more passing yards than Byron did with the top-five offense in that single drive alone.

One of the only highlights of the offense that game on NFL.com shows how Byron was forced into a situation to throw to two receivers yards from each other on the same side of the field with a swarm of defenders aiming to shut them down.

If it was not bad enough to be kicked to the curb by Jack Del Rio a week before the season started, Byron was being treated like red headed step child in his last official starting campaign in Tampa.

Byron was ranked in the top 10 in his last two roles as the official starter: In 2005, with the Jaguars, the last time he actually got to play out the season, and last season in the limited role he had as the starting QB for the Buccaneers before having the rug pulled out from underneath him by a franchise known for the tremendous efforts it goes through to maintain its losing tradition.

Last week, we had to put up with Vince Young and David Garrard being ranked No. 1 and No. 2. This week, the hype revolves around a QB whose rating was under 60, while having turned over the ball 20 times in the 10 games he played in being made out to be this phenom after just two games.

Now do you suppose Byron has something to prove after being treated like dirt by the franchise, to the point of forcing him to play on their practice squad?

Or how about the Steelers seeing them take their back-up last season and put them in a situation to where they were defeated in a game in overtime while going with their unproven back-up Dennis Dixon, who has been a tremendous disappointment to the organization, especially after having to deal with the rhetoric of his agent's disdain in not naming Dixon the starter during the preseason?

I think the Steelers have a lot to prove this game. Not only why they gave a seventh-round pick to the Bucs to get Byron Leftwich, but why their top-10 WR corps is so underrated. Just 34 yards last week is not a testament of what this corps is capable of.

If you asked Byron at the beginning of the season if he could only start one game, which game would he choose, what game do you suppose he picked?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office put up a huge smokescreen last season when they duped Byron Leftwich to sign with them so they can draft Josh Freeman.

"Oh yeah. I felt that all along. Even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me—they told me it was a smoke screen, everybody would think they didn't want a QB," said Josh Freeman while appearing in an NFL.com chat.  "They said they were ready to trade up. I think it worked out great. I was sitting there with my family and enjoying it, and I got to go to the team that I wanted to go to."

While Byron kept his end of the bargain

By beating everyone out for the starting role.

By jacking one of the worst offenses in the league last season into the top five.

By being the third-ranked QB in the league in TDs and yards combined, after also breaking the 10,000-yard mark on a 42-yard TD strike to Kellen Winslow.

The Bucs offensive coordinator put the breaks on the spread offense, and sent it crashing into the ground for a nose dive, with an ultra-conservative, predictable gameplan designed to do nothing more than bench the starting QB.

Shockingly enough, the offense was opened up late in fourth after Byron was benched.

The QB came in and managed to not only out rush the entire rushing offense the entire game, but managed to have more passing yards than Byron did with the top-five offense in that single drive alone.

One of the only highlights of the offense that game on NFL.com shows how Byron was forced into a situation to throw to two receivers yards from each other on the same side of the field with a swarm of defenders aiming to shut them down.

If it was not bad enough to be kicked to the curb by Jack Del Rio a week before the season started, Byron was being treated like red headed step child in his last official starting campaign in Tampa.

Byron was ranked in the top 10 in his last two roles as the official starter: In 2005, with the Jaguars, the last time he actually got to play out the season, and last season in the limited role he had as the starting QB for the Buccaneers before having the rug pulled out from underneath him by a franchise known for the tremendous efforts it goes through to maintain its losing tradition.

Last week, we had to put up with Vince Young and David Garrard being ranked No. 1 and No. 2. This week, the hype revolves around a QB whose rating was under 60, while having turned over the ball 20 times in the 10 games he played in being made out to be this phenom after just two games.

Now do you suppose Byron has something to prove after being treated like dirt by the franchise, to the point of forcing him to play on their practice squad?

Or how about the Steelers seeing them take their back-up last season and put them in a situation to where they were defeated in a game in overtime while going with their unproven back-up Dennis Dixon, who has been a tremendous disappointment to the organization, especially after having to deal with the rhetoric of his agent's disdain in not naming Dixon the starter during the preseason?

I think the Steelers have a lot to prove this game. Not only why they gave a seventh-round pick to the Bucs to get Byron Leftwich, but why their top-10 WR corps is so underrated. Just 34 yards last week is not a testament of what this corps is capable of.

If you asked Byron at the beginning of the season if he could only start one game, which game would he choose, what game do you suppose he picked?

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