Leftwich: “Time to let the young guys in there”

Published: September 30th, 2009
By Bucs Beat

Seven years ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars were 0-3 under their veteran starter and they turned to a young quarterback.

It was Byron Leftwich.

That's why the Bucs' 29-year-old veteran was not surprised about his benching in favor of 23-year-old quarterback Josh Johnson.

"(Mark) Brunell was there. It wasn't anything that Brunell did wrong. It's just that we were 0-3,'' Leftwich said. "And by the fourth game of the season, they put me in. It was the exact same scenario. So I would be naive to sit up here and be so mad and act like I don't know how this thing works. I understand how it works. I tried my best, went out there and played, gave it all I had, it wasn't good enough. Now it's time to let the young guys in and let those guys run with it. My job is going to be to help those guys out. The funny thing is that it's identical to me seven years ago. Seven years ago probably to the day I was in the reverse situation.''

Leftwich said he knew with Johnson and first-round pick Josh Freeman waiting in the wings, he would have to get the Bucs off to a fast start to keep his job.

"To be honest with you, I think we all knew that I had to win coming out of the gates,'' Leftwich said. "I knew if we didn't win any football games that there was going to be a change no matter how good I played. I knew we couldn't constantly lose football games with two young guys under me and all you guys saying we're rebuilding and everything. I knew we had to win games, and when that happened, I wasn't surprised about it. I waS disappointed, but I wasn't surprised.''

Leftwich said he will perform his role as a mentor to the Bucs' young QBs.

"That was part of my job when I came here and I understood that,'' Leftwich said. "We've got very young quarterbacks and there are things that I've seen that I can pass onto them because I've been in the situation that they're going to be in. The only thing that's changed for me is that I'm not taking the snap. He's taking the snap and I'm still going to be there to help the guys out.''