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Koetter praises Leftwich


Byron Leftwich and the Dirk Koetter offense are off to a fast start following a lights-out performance in Friday night's scrimmage.

A crowd of 11,039 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium watched as Leftwich completed 12 of 17 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, a 23-yard bullet over the middle to Matt Jones. The new Leftwich, lean and confident-looking, was razor sharp in making all of the throws in Koetter's wide-open passing attack.

"Byron was sharp," said Koetter, the Jaguars' new offensive coordinator and a man who has been handed the responsibility of repairing Leftwich's career and giving the Jaguars a playoff-caliber passing game. "He's been sharp the whole camp. He's really in a good rhythm."

The quarterbacks were not "live," of course, and Leftwich's touchdown pass to Jones was in a touch-tackle series, but there was no denying that Leftwich was on top of his game.

"It was just another day of work. I think you all know I like what I'm doing right now. Don't ask me to be a robot. I'm not good at playing a robot," Leftwich said.

Leftwich had told earlier on Friday that he never felt more comfortable in an offensive system, even though he's in a new offense for the third time as the Jaguars' quarterback. Comfortable-looking would be a perfect description of Leftwich's performance on Friday.

"Byron's in an unbelievable rhythm right now. His footwork and timing are right on. Any quarterback in that rhythm is tough to stop," Koetter said.

Koetter is as impressed with Leftwich as Leftwich is with Koetter's design, and Koetter praised Leftwich's command of the position.

"I've never been around a quarterback who understands the game and sees the field like Byron does. Byron gets it. Byron gets the concepts. He's thinking way ahead of the game," Koetter said. "When we put together a game plan, Byron will have input. He'll tell me what he thinks and I like that. I'm OK with it when he tells me no."

Backup quarterback David Garrard was also sharp. The unknown for both quarterbacks is the sack factor, since they weren't "live" for defenders to hit.

Garrard was nine of 16 for 125 yards and one touchdown. He connected three times with rookie wide receiver John Broussard for 62 yards.

"David did a really nice job," Koetter said.

The final score of the offense vs. defense scrimmage was 46-13 in favor of the offense. A modified scoring system awarded points to the defense for interceptions, gimme sacks, etc., but you didn't need a scoreboard to know what was happening: The Jaguars offense was dominating the action.

Doesn't that sound nice, for a change?

"The Jaguars offense needed it; we've been stressing explosive plays. With the kind of running game the Jaguars have, we're kind of under the gun," Koetter said of the passing game.

It was only a scrimmage, but Leftwich gave Jaguars fans real hope for the first time in a long time.

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