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Jacksonville Jaguars expected to hire Byron Leftwich as head coach

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to hire Byron Leftwich as the franchise’s seventh full-time head coach, and ninth head coach overall, multiple sources confirmed to our Demetrius Harvey, The expectation of Leftwich earning the gig was first reported by Eric Dillard.

Leftwich’s most recent role was on Bruce Arians’ staff as offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2019 through the 2021-2022 season. With Leftwich calling the plays, the Bucs won Super Bowl LV, handily defeating the Kansas City Chiefs by a final score of 31-9

This season, the Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs on Jan. 23 in the Divisional Round, losing to the Los Angeles Rams by a final score of 30-27, which allowed Leftwich to take a second interview with the Jaguars on Jan. 25.

The Jaguars fired Urban Meyer on Dec. 16, just 13 games into his tenure, after a 2-11 start on the field and a number of off-the-field issues. Bevell was then named interim coach for the remainder of the season.

The 42-year-old Leftwich first met with Jacksonville for his initial interview on Jan. 7, via Zoom. Things reportedly went well, which made the offensive coordinator a top candidate for the lead role with the Jaguars.

During the 2021 regular season, under Leftwich’s tutelage, the Buccaneers were second in the NFL in total yards per game (405.9), first in passing yards per game (307.6) and second in scoring offense (30.1 points per game). Leftwich. of course, worked with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady over the past two seasons.

Leftwich is also Jacksonville’s first Black full-time head coach hire, with Mel Tucker serving as interim head coach for the final five games of the 2011 season before returning as the defensive coordinator the next season.

Prior to his time in Tampa Bay, Leftwich got his start in NFL coaching with the Arizona Cardinals, also working under Arians. In 2016, he was hired as a coaching intern during training camp, and worked with the quarterbacks. Arians then hired Leftwich as his full-time quarterbacks coach in January 2017. Arians would briefly retire after the 2017 season before taking the job with the Buccaneers in 2019.

Despite Arians leaving Arizona, Leftwich stayed on with the Cardinals as quarterbacks coach for 2018, serving on Steve Wilks’ staff that season. Leftwich also took on the role of interim offensive coordinator for Arizona that season after Mike McCoy was fired from the position in October of 2018.

As many Jaguars fans will recall, Leftwich played 10 seasons in the NFL. He was drafted out of Marshall by Jacksonville in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft at No. 7 overall. Leftwich is of course plenty familiar with the franchise and the area.

In four seasons in Jacksonville, Leftwich completed 789 out of 1,344 pass attempts (58.7 percent) for 9,042 yards, 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He also added eight rushing touchdowns. Leftwich eventually lost his starting position to David Garrard, but he led Jacksonville to a 24-20 record in 44 starts (he played in 46 games total for the Jaguars).

After his stint in Duval, Leftwich went on to spend time with the Atlanta Falcons (2007), Pittsburgh Steelers (2008, 2010-2012) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009). The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII during the 2008-2009 season, and Leftwich earned a ring as a backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger. Arians was on Pittsburgh’s staff as offensive coordinator from 2007 through 2011.

In 60 career NFL games, including 50 starts, Leftwich completed 930 passes on 1,605 attempts (57.9 percent) for 10,532 yards, 58 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. He also ran for 415 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Leftwich is now tasked with rebuilding a franchise that has lived in futility. The Jaguars have had one winning season in the past 14 years of competition (going 10-6 in 2017 and making a run to the AFC Championship game).

Leftwich is also the third different head coach the Jaguars have had in the past three years: Doug Marrone took over the job in Jacksonville in 2017, with his final season coming in 2020; Urban Meyer didn’t make it out of 2021, the same year he was hired; and Leftwich now takes over for 2022 and hopefully beyond.