(Aug. 20) TAMPA—It's what works. Nothing beats playing well.
Byron Leftwich needed this in the worst way. He needed to have some success. He needed to chase the wolves away from his door, at least for a few days, and that's what Leftwich did with his performance against the Tampa Bay Bucs on Saturday night.
In a little less than a half of action, Leftwich was a statistical success. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 125 yards. He moved the sticks. He was good on third down, converting five times in nine tries. Best of all, Leftwich spread the ball around to seven different receivers.
It was a performance workmanlike enough to overlook a near interception by linebacker Derrick Brooks in the first quarter. Other than for that ill-advised pass, Leftwich was efficient. He got some rush in his face, but he got the ball out quickly, decisively and he was not sacked.
There was only this to criticize: He did not lead the Jaguars to a touchdown.
Hmmm. They wouldn't dare, would they? The guy was good. He was more than improved. He deserves a break this week.
Ultimately, he will be judged by his ability to produce touchdowns. Clearly, the Jaguars did not score often enough last season and all of new offensive coordinator Carl Smith's efforts are on getting the Jaguars into the end zone.
This is the preseason, however, and the preseason is more about the film room than it is about the scoreboard, and Leftwich's performance on film will get high grades. He executed the fundamentals of the quarterback position. That's what Jack Del Rio wanted to see on this night. He wanted to be a "week sharper." Leftwich was, and more.
It's what works. Nothing beats playing well.
You can't lobby for the fans' support. All you can do is earn it and that will be a weekly challenge for Leftwich.
For at least this week, he passed the test.