Leftwich had struggled through bad days, too

by Gary Shelton on October 25, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Winston has had to bounce back from bad games before./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

He started 50 games in the NFL. He threw for more than 10,000 yards. He spent nine seasons in the league.

But during a three-week stretch in 2003, Byron Leftwich threw three interceptions in a game twice (against Houston and Miami).

So, yeah, he knows a little about trying to bounce back, and where quarterback Jameis Winston might be this week.

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“You just go to the next opponent,” Leftwich said.  “All you’ve got to do is just cut the tape on for the next team, and trust me – as good as this team is playing right now, especially on the defensive side of the football, you forget about the team you just played. That’s going to be every week for him, for us, in general – we’ve got to have the idea that no matter what, we’re going to prepare our butts off for the week. Once that game happens, we’ll move on to the next opponent. That’s all you can really do in this league.”

Leftwich, the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, was calling the plays last week when Winston had six turnovers against the Panthers.

“I don’t know if you ever foresee that,” Leftwich said. “I don’t know if that’s something that you can really foresee. It happened, regardless of the issues and the reasons why. Just like you said, we’ll learn from it, we’ll get better from it – we’ve got to move on and try to find a way to win this game.”

Winston’s contract is up after this season.

“You’ve got to handle it the same, to be honest with you,” Leftwich said. “His Monday has got to be the same after the Rams game and after the (Week 6) Panthers game. His Monday’s can never change – that’s just this league. This thing can get hot (or) cold on you very quick – just look around the league. That’s just the way the league goes, and no matter what’s happening, it’s going to get judged. (There’s) no reason to even worry about that. It’s time to just focus on the game, focus on your team, focus on the building, focus on execution – and not just the quarterback, just everyone – focus on what we need to do to be able to execute week in and week out. If you do that, if your mindset allows you to do that, you’ll never hear the noise [and] you’ll always be able to focus in and understand what the agenda is and what we need to do from a week-in and week-out basis.”

Winston has also had 13 of his 25 sacks over the last two games.

“I always said it was always my responsibility, first and foremost, to put our guys in the best position for negative plays not to happen,” Leftwich said. “The sack is always a negative play. The sack is always a play that you try to get rid of as quick as possible because of what it does to your team. Sacks normally always put you in second-and-long, third-and-long situations, and that’s not a recipe for having success, especially in this league [with] the way that guys rush the passer. We’ll correct these things, we’ll keep getting better at it and try to limit those negative plays.”

That won’t be easy against Tennessee on Sunday, Leftwich said.

“They’re a physical team,” Leftwich said. “You know they’re well-coached and these guys come ready to play every day, so we understand what we’re up against and it’s a challenge on Sunday (but) it’s a challenge that we’ll accept.”

Leftwich was asked if he was surprised teams haven’t done more to slow receiver Chris Godwin.

 “No – teams are playing defense,” Leftwich said. “

They’re playing what they feel as though is best. The good thing is when you have Mike Evans on the field, it limits what they can and cannot do. It’s tough anytime you’ve got two guys the way that we have two guys that can make the plays on the football the way that these guys make the plays on the football. So, I’m not shocked with anything. Guys week in and week out – every team tries to do the best thing for their team and try to put their team in the best position to win. That’s how I really see it, from that standpoint. Now, we’ve just got to make the play. If someone’s getting doubled, the other guy has got to make the play – not just Chris and Mike, but everybody else that’s on the grass.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was asked about having the league’s best defense against the run but the worst against the pass.

“When you stop the run that quick, you are going to get more passes,” Bowles said. “Before last week, we had about 50 or 60-plus more passes than anybody in the league, so that’s part of it. The other part is we’ve got to continue to communicate and we’ve got to make more plays when they throw it that much. You don’t mind the yards going up as long as you get the turnovers. We had some things to correct in the Bye Week that we practiced and that we went over and talked about. Hopefully the second part of the season those things get corrected and we go from there.”

Bowles also talked about Shaq Barrett, who hasn’t had a sack in two games.

“He can’t get frustrated,” Bowles said. “We understand they’re going to chip him and turn to him sometimes. It’s up to us as coaches to move him around and get him some one-on-ones to create the best matchups we think we have for him. It’s up to the other guys to help, as well, getting to the passer. If they’re going to try to double him, we’ve got to have somebody else step up, as well.”

The Bucs play at the Titans Sunday at 1 p.m.

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