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Leftwich stands strong


Byron Leftwich said fan dissent shouldn't bother him this season because he's had plenty of practice dealing with it.

"When has anybody said anything great about me since I've been here?" Leftwich said jokingly. "I came into a quarterback controversy. I understand what type of quarterback I am. I understand how hard I work and what I give. It's not everybody. It's a few who don't like me."

Leftwich has led the Jaguars from 5-11 in his rookie season to 12-4 and a playoff berth last year, but Jaguars fans remain divided into pro-Leftwich and anti-Leftwich factions.

Can he stand strong in the face of dissent?

"It doesn't control me and it doesn't affect our football team. I'm human but I understand what I have to do. Nobody is liked by everybody. As long as everybody knows how serious I take my job; that's all I can do," Leftwich told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm appreciated by the people who really understand, but when people don't like you, they don't like you. No quarterback in this league is liked by everybody. It's not my job to make people like me, but I know I can give them everything I've got," he said.

Saturday night, against visiting Tampa Bay, Leftwich will get his most playing time of this preseason and he hopes to be able to declare himself and the Jaguars offense ready to begin the regular season.

"We were terrible in the preseason last year. We were terrible and we found a way to go 12-4. I don't judge on the preseason but it's time not to make the little mistakes," Leftwich said. "It's the preseason. It's a different feeling. No matter what happens, it has nothing to do with what happens in the regular season."

Leftwich has quarterbacked eight drives to date in this preseason. He has a 50-yard touchdown pass to Matt Jones, but nothing else in the way of points. Leftwich hopes to be more productive against Tampa.

"I want to start playing now. I really want to play three quarters," he said. "We'll have a little more in (the game plan). It's not a true game plan, it's more of an idea of what they do. Nobody likes to show their goods."

The Jaguars will finish the preseason in Atlanta on Aug. 31, in a game in which the starters will probably play the first quarter only. As far as developing momentum for their regular season opener against Dallas on Sept. 10, this Saturday's game is the one.

"It's all about Sept. 10 and we've got to use this preseason to make sure we're ready," Leftwich said. "I'm trying to win the Super Bowl and I really do believe this year we have a championship-caliber team. It's time for us to take it to the next level. We don't want any excuses."

Leftwich won't use unpopularity as an excuse.

"It comes with the position," he said. "I like that responsibility. It drives you … that you don't want to fail."

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