Inside the numbers: Byron Leftwich has a career record of 24-20 as a
starting quarterback. During his career, he has completed 789 of 1,344 passes
for 9,042 yards, including 51 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions and has a
career quarterback rating of 80.5. Despite being considered immobile, Leftwich
has run for eight touchdowns. The former Jaguar's best season statistically was
in 2005 when he threw for 15 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions in 11 games. He
finished in the top ten in quarterback rating that season at 89.3.
Strengths: Leftwich has as strong of an arm as anyone in the NFL and
can make all the throws. He is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league,
as he will stand in the pocket and take a pounding in hopes to make a big play.
Leftwich is accurate and he doesn't take very many chances with the football.
Despite being considered slow, he can shake off tacklers. Atlanta has acquired a
very cerebral football player. He understands coverages and can go through his
Weaknesses: Leftwich's biggest weakness is his lack of mobility. He
isn't the slowest quarterback in the league, but he won't be confused with
Michael Vick at any time. He has an elongated release, but it seldom hurts
timing. Leftwich has missed 15 games over the last two seasons due to injury,
but it was one single ankle injury that caused him to miss that much time. He
has since had surgery to repair the ankle and appears to be 100 percent at this
Why he was released: Byron Leftwich was never truly accepted in
Jacksonville because he was perceived as the guy who drove local legend Mark Brunell out of town. Fans tried to point out whatever flaws Leftwich had, even
down to the way he buckled his chinstraps. With Leftwich's injury history and
contract status, the team decided to move on with the more mobile David Garrard
behind an underachieving offensive line.
Intangibles: Leftwich is a natural leader on and off the field, as
well as a great community guy.
What does he bring to the Falcons? Leftwich is an immediate upgrade at
quarterback and should be the starter as soon as he learns the playbook. He's a
solid starter who will always give his team a chance to win against any
opponent. In his career he has defeated some of the great quarterbacks in the
game, such as Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger,
and Steve McNair.
Final notes: If the Falcons' offensive line can give Leftwich time, he
can pick apart any defense. Leftwich is used to working with less-than-stellar
talent at the wide receiver position and has made the most of it. Alge Crumpler
should soon become his favorite target.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com and a syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com. He has also appeared on Sirius NFL Radio, is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.