In a recent discussion on our show with Scott Reynolds, the topic of QB stack rank featured prominently. Scott brought up the style difference between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown as a key thing to watch in the preseason games. I think this topic bears a little more discussion. These quarterbacks, during training camp, have been like night and day. Luke seems to be like the “little Engine who Could,” plugging along, not doing anything stupid but not tearing the world up either. Byron, conversely, is making some really bad decisions but in between those, making some pretty spectacular plays. This dynamic sets up an interesting situation for preseason review.
In 7 on 7 drills, Luke is getting through his reads very quickly and making crisp throws. His arm and legs have not been in question, it has always been his head that got in the way.Sadly, that seems to be happening again when the team goes to 11 on 11. Luke is not making it through his reads as quickly and, rather than risk an interception, is pulling the ball down and running with it. The funny thing about a pass play is that normally, the goal is to actually pass the ball. Now everyone likes a QB who can get out of trouble and turn a negative into a positive, but right now, it looks like Luke gets scared.
If there is one thing that Byron Leftwich is not, that is scared. Byron has been horrible in training camp for the most part. I have been railing on him constantly for his lethargic movement, telegraphed throwing motion, slow wind up and slower release. He has compounded this by throwing quite a few interceptions throughout the sessions that I have attended and being sacked (virtually most of the time, once really by Jarriet Buie, but that is a different story) regularly. The flip side to this really annoying set of conditions is that in amongst this poor performance, Byron will uncork a gorgeous 60 yard bomb to <insert any receiver here> (<-That is not a typo, he is open to throw these to any receiver) for a touchdown. Now, the crowd loves them some long ball, so this of course, endears Byron to the crowd. But, much like the fighter who puts together flurries at the end of a round or the end of a fight, Byron may be assembling enough points to have taken the lead in the QB race at 1 Buc Place from the incumbent, McCown.
On our show, Scott and I talked about how the lights and pressure of the game will add a nice layer of intrigue to this battle. Can Luke take his style and perform under pressure with the veteran QB breathing down his neck? Can he stop taking the safe way out on every possession and lead the team to points? To score touchdowns in this league, you have to take chances. Will Luke take his chances? He better, because we know that Byron will.
This battle will get very interesting in Tennessee Saturday.