Playing matchmaker for a Byron Leftwich coaching staff with Jaguars

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman) (Jacob Kupferman, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From the moment Urban Meyer was fired, many fans have been banging the drum for Byron Leftwich to be the Jaguars’ next head coach. As the interview process has progressed, his name has been gaining some momentum.

The main drawback about Leftwich in the minds of some is that he doesn’t have any head coaching experience. If you listen to the News4JAGs podcast you know that the key is to surround any first-time head coach with a room of experienced coaches that have been there and done that. What would that staff for Leftwich look like?

It is too early to pinpoint exactly who he would look to add to his staff, but I went back through his playing and coaching career to see what his coaching tree looks like.

So, let’s play matchmaker. If the Jaguars were to hire Leftwich, Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator, here are some of the guys who he has crossed paths with who could join his staff in Jacksonville.

Anthony Lynn

Lynn is widely considered one of the top running back coaches in the NFL. He was the Chargers’ head coach from 2017 until 2020. Lynn was Detroit’s offensive coordinator in 2021 but had his play-calling duties stripped midseason by head coach Dan Campbell. Lynn and the Lions parted ways at the end of the year.

Leftwich and Lynn crossed paths when the ex-quarterback first got to the NFL. Lynn was a running backs coach for the Jaguars in 2003 and ‘04. He could fit in as an OC or RB coach. With the 20 years of coaching in the NFL and experience as a head coach, Lynn would bring a lot of experience to any staff he joins.

Mike Zimmer

Zimmer is fresh off being fired. He was the Vikings’ head coach from 2014 to 2021. Zimmer is a well-respected defensive coach around the NFL and has been a defensive coordinator for four different teams throughout his long coaching career. It was during his brief stop with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 that Zimmer and Leftwich crossed paths.

Zimmer could bring head coaching experience and an aggressive defensive presence to the staff.

Hines Ward

Ward is best known for his time as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Leftwich and Ward were teammates in 2008, 2010-11. Since hanging up his cleats, Ward has jumped into coaching. He spent some time as an offensive assistant with the Jets and is currently the wide receivers coach at Florida Atlantic. Not a long resume, but Ward is starting to build momentum as a coach. According to reports, he received an interview for Houston’s head coaching job.

While it may be early to consider Ward a strong candidate for a head coaching position, it is never a bad thing to have well-respected coaches on the staff. Ward’s best contribution to the staff would be his experience and toughness.

Rich Bisaccia

Bisaccia is a name that has been hot around the NFL this year. This season, he took over as the Raiders’ interim head coach. Bisaccia guided them through a difficult season and helped them land a playoff spot. Bisaccia is far from a lock for the permanent position with the Raiders.

If Vegas does decide to go in a different direction, Bisaccia has been an assistant head coach and special teams coordinator for four different teams. Leftwich and Bisaccia crossed paths when he was the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator for the Bucs in 2009.

Bisaccia is a veteran coach and the experience he gained leading the Raiders through their turmoil this season is invaluable.

Larry Foote

Foote is another former Steelers player turned coach. Foote and Leftwich coached together in Arizona and Tampa Bay. Foote, similar to Leftwich, is a disciple of Bruce Arians. He has spent his short coaching career in the same position he played — linebacker. But Foote likely won’t be coaching linebackers for much longer. If the Bucs were to lose Todd Bowles to a head coaching job, it is expected that Foote is being prepared to be the Bucs next DC.

Foote does not have a long coaching resume but is believed to be an up-and-coming coach that, paired with his experience as a player, makes him a valuable addition to any staff.

Freddie Kitchens

Kitchens has had an interesting coaching journey. In 2019, he was Cleveland’s head coach before being fired after a season. Most recently, Kitchens was the Giants interim offensive coordinator. Kitchens and Leftwich worked on the same staff in Arizona during the 2017 season. Kitchens was the running back coach at the time. He has worked with tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks.

Kitchens has also been an offensive coordinator. Kitchens will likely be looking for a new gig now that the Giants have fired Joe Judge. His relationship with Bruce Arians dating back to his college playing career at Alabama makes his inclusion on this list make even more sense. Kitchens could fill several different roles on a staff along with bringing more head coaching experience to the room.

Al Holcomb

Holcomb has been in the NFL since 2009. He is currently Carolina’s run game coordinator. Leftwich and Holcomb crossed paths in 2018 when the latter was the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator. Since then, he has bounced to two different stops as a run game coordinator. Holcomb will be in strong consideration for any vacant defensive coordinator jobs around the league.

Antwaan Randle El

Randle El is the third former Steelers player on this list. Leftwich and Randle El didn’t cross paths until their time as coaches with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Randle El is currently Detroit’s receivers coach. He helped coach Amon-Ra St. Brown to a stellar rookie season in Detroit.

Adrian Wilson

If you are in the group hoping the team will move on from general manager Trent Baalke, then here is your guy. Wilson is a former NFL safety. After retiring, Wilson he was hired as a scout for the Cardinals. That is where Leftwich and Wilson crossed paths. Wilson has since worked his way up the ranks and is currently the Cardinals vice president of pro scouting.

According to reports, Wilson interviewed for the Giants’ open general manager position. If Khan still believes that a coach-centric model is the best way to build a team and decided to move on from Baalke, then Wilson would make sense as an experienced exec who has worked with Leftwich in the past.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.