TAMPA, Fla. — NFL assistant coaches rarely go into detail when they address their ties to head coaching vacancies during the season. The Jacksonville Jaguars asked permission to speak with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Leftwich said focusing on another job opening would be a slight to the next opponent and to the players in his locker room.
"I kind of think it’s disrespectful to the guys that you really work with every day. That’s really how I view that," Leftwich said after Thursday's practice. "If I’m ever fortunate enough to be in that situation that’s when I’ll handle it. But as of right now, I’m really focusing on the opponent we’re about to play and getting us ready to try and play our best football."
Bowles' comments were much briefer.
"I'm just focused on the team right now."
Bowles' defense has been banged up the past couple of weeks, but he has faith in the entire unit. The Bucs racked up seven sacks against Carolina, and they didn't allow a touchdown for the second straight game.
"Those guys have stepped up all year and they’ve come in and made some plays," Bowles added. "Obviously, it’s bad when you lose any starter for a long period of time, but those guys have come in and made some plays and really showed themselves worthy of playing."
The Bucs offense is missing key pieces as well. But quarterback Tom Brady said it's a matter of getting the right pieces in the right places to be successful.
"I think everyone’s going to have to play a role with different people in and out of the line-up," Brady said Thursday. "At different times you’ve got to adjust. You’ve just gotta get guys to play a role and provide the level of production that allows you to go down and score points."
Brady needs three touchdown passes to join Drew Brees as the only quarterback with back-to-back 40-touchdown seasons.
The Bucs (11-4) travel to New York to face the Jets (4-11) Sunday at 1 p.m.