Among the variety of reasons why prognosticators think the Ravens will have the advantage against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday is Byron Leftwich's long windup.
Leftwich’s passing motion has been compared to that of a baseball pitcher and may rival New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow’s for its elongated windup.
While critics question how Leftwich can release the ball quickly enough to execute offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s scheme, the Ravens said they aren’t giving much weight to that theory.
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“People [talk] about his throw, but I see a quarterback that can get the ball down the field, that has a very capable arm,” inside linebacker Jameel McClain said.
McClain was backed up by his defensive coordinator, who also disputed the notion that Leftwich’s windup is a vulnerability.
“I know that everyone makes that comment about it, but I’ve seen the guy be all of successful,” Dean Pees said. “They may change certain ways that they do things to kind of aid that a little bit, but I don’t think it changes. That is what he is. It’s like anything else. Everybody has idiosyncrasies in how they play – whether they are a defensive player or an offensive player or something – and you try to take advantage of that if you can. But to try to take advantage of that sometimes, it can hurt you in someplace else. It is what it is. We just have to do a good job of recognizing him and breaking on the ball and good vision on the ball.”
Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe did admit that defensive players enjoy targeting quarterbacks who have long windups. But he also took great pains to praise Leftwich’s prowess.
“He’s very capable. Anybody’s capable,” Ellerbe said. “Plus, he’s a veteran. So he can go out there and beat us just as well as anybody else can.”