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Atlanta Falcons To Start Leftwich

In a move that has been roundly condemned already by everyone posting on this site, the Falcons have inserted  Byron Leftwich at QB. It's fairly remarkable to find myself in the mind state I'm in at the moment, as it wasn't long ago that I was championing Leftwich to succeed Harrington. My expectations for the season have changed so much that I no longer view a shift away from Joey Joe Joe as a source of relief.

On the contrary, I think it's a sign that the Falcons are going in the wrong direction.

Added wide receiver Joe Horn: "We have to do our jobs first before Byron can be successful. Everyone has to join in and beat the man in front of him. If that doesn't happen, if we drop balls and the line doesn't block, what's the need to have Byron starting anyway?"

That's exactly my point.

None of those things have happened consistently this year. The receivers had plenty of drops last game and the line hasn't blocked successfully since their ancestors came over the land bridge from Asia. This is not a fluke that Lefwich can fix with his cannon arm and the Fat Albert jokes he inspires. Instead, he's likely to end up getting pressured even more than Harrington. Leftwich arguably has the better career numbers than Harrington (okay, more than arguably), but he is famous for being unable to escape the rush. With a pair of rookies at tackle and an unhappy Alge Crumpler suddenly forced to block more, there's a recipe for disaster brewing. Worse still, Norwood's not getting enough carries and the running game is going nowhere.

This is not to completely knock Byron, who behind a good offensive line does offer superior arm strength and reasonable decision making skills. Behind this particular line, he's going to get killed. Pet Rhino might as well shoot him in the back while he's jogging out to the field and get it over with.

If the Falcons are serious about leaving Leftwich in this position for the rest of the season, they'd better set him up with a game plan that involves lot of quick routes or deep outs from White and L-Rob. Anything short of that is going to leave him with the ball in his hands for far too long, and that's a problem we already had with Harrington. It might also help to put all hands on deck in passing situations, getting Mughelli and Dunn/Norwood involved in blocking as much as possible to offer some additional protection. With the right combination of luck and skill, Byron could do a good job the rest of the way.

But I'm not optimistic.