Cardinals QB guru Byron Leftwich is rising up the coaching ranks

Aug 18, 2017, 7:34 AM | Updated: Aug 22, 2017, 11:41 am
(Adam Green/Arizona Sports)...
(Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
(Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It didn’t take long for Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians to be sold on Byron Leftwich as a coach.

Leftwich, in his first season as the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach after spending last year as a coaching intern, received some high praise from his boss.

“He’ll be a head coach early and fast,” Arians said during offseason workouts, per the team’s website.

Leftwich isn’t thinking about his future.

“It’s great to know B.A. has as much confidence as he has in me,” Leftwich said. “And he doesn’t hold me back. He turns me loose and lets me go. No restrictions on it.”

When did Leftwich find out he was calling plays last week against the Raiders?

“If you know B.A., you know you don’t get too much of a warning,” Leftwich said with a smile as he was answering the question.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer appreciates the unique insight he receives from Leftwich, who was drafted six picks after Palmer went No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Well, perspective. Just a totally different perspective,” Palmer said. “And it’s not just because he played in the NFL, it’s because he played in this system in the NFL and knows this system. He was in this system at the end of his career when he had the most experience and probably was his smartest football-wise during his playing career because he experienced so much in different systems.

“His opinion of reads and knowing how difficult certain things are and how to make certain things easier has been really good for us.”

Last year, Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin called plays in the three of the four preseason games. He also took control of the offense this year in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys. Goodwin’s background is coaching the offensive linemen, so he tends to favor running plays, where Leftwich calls more pass plays down the field, as he did in Pittsburgh when Arians was his offensive coordinator.

Drafted by Jacksonville, Leftwich played four seasons with the Jaguars and one season with Atlanta before joining the Steelers for the first time in 2008 as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup.

One would imagine Arians is never giving up play-calling during the regular season. But Leftwich is an up-and-comer, and it’s a wonder if he could be a bigger part of the Cardinals’ future.

Follow Mike Jurecki on Twitter

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