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Leftwich stats stand tall


Jimmy Smith spoke for the offense in accepting responsibility for beating the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.

"No one has stopped Indy from scoring, so it's to the point that you have to out-score Indy," the veteran wide receiver said. "We have to be as close to perfect as possible to beat this ballclub."

The Jaguars like to think they have one of the NFL's elite defenses. It was a defense that held opponents to 17 points a game last year and that was seventh-best in the league. The Colts offense, however, is extra special.

Peyton Manning and company were the top scoring team in the league, averaging a whopping 32.65 points per game. The Colts were held under 20 points once all season, in the final game of the year, with Manning on the bench.

The Colts broke the 30-point mark 10 times, the 40-point mark four times and even hit 51 in a win over the Titans. Manning set the all-time record for touchdown passes in a season and the Colts set standards for offensive efficiency that could stand forever.

Manning and the Colts offense are the standards by which others are judged, and Byron Leftwich and the Jaguars offense will submit themselves for review this Sunday in the RCA Dome.

Is Leftwich ready to be compared to Manning?

"I think it's too early yet," Leftwich said. "This is the league MVP."

No, Leftwich is not in Manning's league, yet. Few are. Make no mistake about it, though, Leftwich intends to reach those heights, and he took a major step in that direction last year when he led the Jaguars to a 27-24 win in Indianapolis.

Statistically, Leftwich has been almost Manning-like in his three starts against the Colts. Leftwich has completed 64 of 93 pass attempts with one interception, four touchdowns and 797 yards. His passer ratings in those games are 96.6, 101.5 and 116.0.

In the same games, Manning has completed 75 of 113 with three interceptions, seven touchdowns and 935 yards. Manning's passer ratings in those three games are 82.4, 99.8 and 124.7.

Here's the most important stat: The Jaguars won two of those three games.

"As a quarterback, you always know who the other team's quarterback is. You know who is on the other side playing quarterback," Leftwich said.

Leftwich is a student of the position. He professes to watching tape of all the great quarterbacks, past and present. He's watched tape of Manning extensively.

"I can't tell what he's really doing," Leftwich said of Manning's penchant for gesturing and directing frantically at the line of scrimmage in the Colts' no-huddle attack. "You wonder how much of that is true. When you see him doing all of that, you know he's smart. He's changing plays but he's doing things that don't matter, too."

Leftwich won't be as animated as Manning will be this Sunday. That's not Leftwich's or the Jaguars' style. It remains Manning's personal trademark. He is in a special class of all-time passers and Leftwich refuses to be so bold as to invite comparison.

There is, however, one strong similarity between the two quarterbacks: Neither guy is gonna beat you with his legs.

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