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Leftwich Helping Brady Transform Potent Buccaneers Offense

Leftwich Helping Brady Transform Potent Buccaneers Offense

Byron Leftwich remembers traveling to Lambeau Field for the first time, walking into the legendary stadium and soaking up the atmosphere.

TAMPA, Fla.: Byron Leftwich remembers traveling to Lambeau Field for the first time, walking into the legendary stadium and soaking up the atmosphere.

When you think of it, its the mecca of football. … Its like (Madison Square) Garden in basketball. I guess its like Wrigley Field in baseball. Its a beautiful place to play the game of football, Leftwich said.

The way it looks, all of the names that are hanging on the walls there, he added. Its football, old school football, and what football is all about.

Leftwich was a young quarterback in his second NFL season when he led the Jacksonville Jaguars into Green Bay in December 2004.

He returns this weekend, a little more than a week after his 41st birthday, as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs (13-5) face the Packers (14-3) in Sundays NFC championship game, with Leftwich calling plays for a potent offense hes helped six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady transform into one of the leagues best.

There have been growing pains, with Brady needing much of the season to get acclimated to a talented group of playmakers that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Cameron Brate, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski, the quarterbacks favorite target from his days with the New England Patriots.

Leftwich, the seventh overall pick from the 2003 draft, played nine seasons with the Jaguars, Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers. Hes in his second season handling play-calling duties in Bruce Arians no risk it, no biscuit system.

Many questioned whether the 43-year-old Brady would be a good fit for a scheme that places an emphasis on pushing the ball down the field. He and Leftwich not only have made it work, the Bucs have thrived offensively during the six-game winning streak Tampa Bay will take to Lambeau Field.

It wasnt just Tom learning the guys, it was the guys learning where Tom is going to put the ball, how hes going to see a certain play. All that just took a little time, Leftwich said.

The key for us was to just win games during the process. This league is about winning, dont be fooled, Leftwich added. Week in and week out there will be different storylines, but we understand being in this game as long as weve been in it … its about winning football games.

By the time Leftwich began his pro playing career, Brady had already won a Super Bowl title.

Nearly a decade after hanging up his cleats, the offensive coordinator understandably is thrilled to have a chance to coach and learn from a guy who is, obviously, the best to ever play as Brady pursues a seventh championship ring.

Tampa Bay led the NFL in passing and ranked third in total offense in 2019, Leftwichs first season as a full-time playcaller.

Brady threw for 4,633 yards, third-most in the league behind Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, this season. He also set a franchise record with 40 touchdown passes, second in the league to Green Bays Aaron Rodgers (48).

Despite the success, Leftwich has not been invited to interview for any of the head coaching openings in the NFL this winter.

That doesnt sit well with Arians.

Byrons done a heck of a job, the coach said. He and Tom have a great relationship.

One that Leftwich said continues to grow.

I think what helps is were around the same age. We like the same type of things, we see life kind of the same. … We just clicked from the time that we had an opportunity to work with each other, the offensive coordinator said.

I have a lot of respect for Tom … and I think its the other way, too, Leftwich added. We just work our butts off every day trying to put our team in the best position to win football games.

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