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Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor: Offensive Coordinator, Byron Leftwich

There may be no game bigger than this one, for the offensive coordinator to showcase his abilities

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll be honest and tell you I struggled a bit settling on an X-Factor for this weekend’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Detroit Lions.

Finally, I settled on offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich. It’s a little unconventional, granted, but since Leftwich used to wear pads in the NFL I figure you guys can follow me on this.

At one point, I was thinking of going with Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, or even Jason Pierre-Paul. All of them will need to step up just a little bit bigger with Devin White ill, even though he’s playing through the sickness.

Then there’s Josh Wells. Who will be replacing an injured Donovan Smith, who will miss the first game of his career.

Or, Chris Godwin. Taking over number one receiver duties in the absence of Mike Evans. Then, of course, there’s Breshad Perriman who is filling in the No. 2 role as Godwin steps into the one. Justin Watson could have been chosen as well. It’s clear he’ll be hoping for another big performance after his Week 14 production against the Indianapolis Colts. But then there’s Scotty Miller. The young speedster who’s been watching from the sidelines as his depth partners stepped into the spotlight.

Of course, Jameis Winston was an option. The divisive quarterback with the fractured thumb who’s going to try and keep the ship afloat with all that’s going on around him.

But you know who is really going to have the biggest impact on this whole thing? Byron. Coach Leftwich.

Because no matter what, he’s going to have to coach perhaps the hardest game of this season today. To begin with, his starting left tackle is a back-up who was worked in the few snaps he got last weekend.

His back-up wide receivers turned starters have done well, but the loss of Evans is a significant drop in talent and versatility, which limits the range of what Leftwich can do as a play-caller.

Then there’s his quarterback. Playing with an injured or back-up left tackle, and suffering with an injury to his throwing hand already, in a system that inherently accepts more hits to his position than most.

How does Leftwich, with all of these other things happening, keep Winston from further injuring the very hand which has helped get his team from 2-6 to 6-7?

All the while having to solve this puzzle box, while Todd Bowles leads an already young defense without their most talented rookie, either at all or at 100%.

On paper, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should get a solid chance at their fourth straight victory this season, against the Detroit Lions in Week 15. But it’s all going to hang on how Byron Leftwich calls the game on the field, to determine this weekend’s winner.