Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Exit Stage Leftwich

"At this point, we have had a couple of small conversations, but that's been the extent of [the Byron Leftwich discussions]," Ozzie Newsome said.

And with those few words the Ravens’ acclaimed GM and EVP ripped open a brand new can of big fat juicy worms.

At this point we’ve all been repeatedly reminded that the Ravens tried to swing a deal with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2003 to move up and draft the big gunslinger from Marshall. But those efforts were thwarted by the Jacksonville Jaguars and a rather suspicious phone call that left Ozzie asking over and over, “Can you hear me now?”

Some things happen for reasons and I would take Terrell Suggs any day of the week over Byron Leftwich. Thankfully Sizzle happened that day albeit by default.

Leftwich has been a disappointment just like his draft class alum Kyle Boller. Neither has fulfilled the promise that their respective physical tools would suggest and now one of them is a free agent and the other is six months away from joining him.

If nothing else Leftwich’s release is very curious. He really hasn’t been that bad enough to warrant an outright release with an overall QB rating of 80.5 to go with 51 TD passes and 36 INT’s while starting n 44 of the 46 games he’s played in. Given the investment in Leftwich and given that David Garrard isn’t exactly a household name Leftwich’s release is a bit of a surprise.

Now it’s no secret that Leftwich and Jags’ head coach Jack Del Rio aren’t exactly bosom buddies. But then again, Del Rio isn’t exactly a regular dinner companion of Jags’ owner Wayne Weaver. A bad season in Jacksonville could push Del Rio straight towards the unemployment line.

The point is, Del Rio needs a good season and to have one, you want to field the best team possible. With the opportunity costs for Del Rio so great, would he allow his personal feelings to influence his personnel feelings?

You also have to ask if Jags’ GM Shack Harris (who by the way has a terrific relationship with Ozzie Newsome) would allow Del Rio’s strained relationship with Leftwich to steer Harris’ personnel moves. Don’t you think there’s something more to this story? Don’t the teams that have a player on their roster know a little more about them than those of us on the outside looking in?


All things being equal, Leftwich is probably a better long-term solution than Boller. The trouble is Leftwich doesn’t have a long-term window. He has short-term needs and those needs clash with the Ravens – at least for now.

More than likely, Leftwich’s agent is looking to steer his client towards a team that is one hit away from Leftwich becoming that team’s starter. I don’t think you have that here in Baltimore – not in 2007.

We’ve heard that Steve McNair hardly mastered the Ravens playbook in 2006 and that was after a partial set of OTA’s and a full training camp. How would the less experienced Leftwich fair in Baltimore with no preparation? One of the knocks against Leftwich is that his reads are slow and that he relies on that big arm to overcome the slow processing speed – and that’s when he knows the offense.

Ah, but you say to bring him on as the No. 3 and risk losing Troy Smith? How might that then affect Boller when he’s called on to lead the team for a couple of games this season? He’s a pretty hyper kinetic guy as it is. Might Leftwich’s presence throw that hyper kinetic field into overdrive?

It’s interesting that Ozzie Newsome even commented at all on Leftwich. Normally you might hear Ozzie say something vague like, “We’re happy with the current status of our quarterbacking situation and we’re focused on the 2007 season.”

But that isn’t what he said. He said he’s had a couple of small conversations.

Things that make you go hmmm…

The bet here is that Leftwich will end up in a place like Atlanta or DC or Tampa where Jon Gruden can’t seem to have enough QB’s. He’ll sign a one year deal and be a good citizen, say all the right things and hope to be productive with his limited opportunities. Then after the season, take in the NFL landscape and see what the offseason brings. Teams have been known to overspend for a quarterback. Just ask the Houston Texans.

As for the Ravens, next year might be the ideal time to discuss Leftwich. Kyle Boller will likely be gone, McNair might have another year or two in the tank and Troy Smith will be protected. Leftwich is from the DC area and one would think that Baltimore would be among his preferred destinations.

Ozzie has shown extreme patience in the past, allowing time and circumstance to work in his favor while remaining emotionally deattached so as to not cloud his good judgment. The bet here is that this time, it will be no different.

Exit stage Leftwich…at least for now.


MB Genius said...

If you snooze you loose and the Ravens just might do that with Leftwich. But I do agree that where there's smoke there's fire and Jax did what most teams don't do...kick a top 10 first round qb out the door before his contract expires.

The title of this blog is pretty appropriate...for now anyway

Anonymous said...

We're on the same page TL. John Clayton says that Leftwich desperately wants to play in DC or Baltimore but Wash has no interest. You can't release Kyle in favor of Byron because Kyle knows the offense. But what if the Ravens tell Byron hey come Nov 1 you'll be our #2 QB with a legit shot to be #1 by 09??? How about a 2 or 3 yr deal?? My gut says he passes and signs a 1 yr deal elsewhere and then he and Daunte both become candidates to replace Kyle next year and are given strong assurances that McNair can be unseated after another short postseason.


Harryos29 said...

I've had some time to mull over the Leftwich situation. I'm of the mind-set that the Ravens need to stay the course with what they HAVE for 2007. Make a run at Arizona in February. If this Season comes apart like a team that plays about 500 yards up RAVENS WALK, then you may want to go in the direction of Mr Byron.
I hope and Pray that KYLE gets plenty of SNAPs this year; But only because we are up by 21 points late in the game. I also Pray that STEVE MCNAIR has a healthy season and doesn't take any more late nite rides with his brotherinlaw in his Pick up truck.
My dad always told me... and my brothers and ..I told my 3 sons the same thing: NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS AFTER MIDNITE...when you are away from home...

Harry O 29
Sykesville, md