Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Patience Needed While Byron Learns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Patience Needed While Byron Learns

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

There's no speed-reading course or magic potion that Byron Leftwich can take to make this any better. The only painkiller is time.

Because as much as the Jaguars' offense sputtered with Leftwich at the controls yesterday against the Miami Dolphins, there'll be more turnover-filled days. More throws that he wish he could have back. More games where it seems nothing goes his way.

Sorry, Jaguars fans, but Leftwich didn't sign up for a love boat cruise. In the NFL, relying on a rookie quarterback not named Dan Marino is guaranteed to bring suffering. It requires patience, commitment and, above all, a willingness not to abandon the ship once it sets sail.

For the second time in three starts, the future face of the Jaguars made too many mistakes that prevented his team from enjoying a victory celebration. Except for a couple of nifty Fran Tarkenton-like scrambles, there wasn't much about Leftwich's performance in a 24-10 loss to Miami to amaze 66,437 spectators.

It was just another day of a long evolutionary process -- Breaking In Byron -- for the 1-5 Jaguars. Sometimes you get brilliance. More often than not, you get something on film that coaches must use as a teaching tool.

Take a second-quarter sequence when Leftwich failed to connect with Troy Edwards, who had Miami cornerback Sam Madison beat streaking down the left sideline. The pass went over the wrong shoulder and out of bounds. Two plays later, Leftwich's pass went one way and Jimmy Smith another, resulting in a Madison interception.

Maddening as it is, this is what happens with rookie quarterbacks.

The question isn't so much what Leftwich didn't do, but how quickly can he learn from failure? Yes, he occasionally held the ball too long, or didn't hang on to it well. …

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