Leftwich is in his third season with the Bucs and head coach Bruce Arians and in his second season working with quarterback Tom Brady. Leftwich also was Arians’ offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.
The Bucs lead the NFL in yards per game (405.8) and passing yards per game (306.6) and rank second in points scored per game (23.4). They ranked seventh, second and third in those categories in 2020. For rushing yards per game, the Bucs ranked 28th in 2020 and 27th this season.
The Bucs’ offense led the NFL in passing and ranked third in points per game and yards per game in 2019 with quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Jaguars requested permission on Dec. 28 to interview Leftwich, but he said he didn’t want to talk to the Jaguars because he wanted to concentrate on the upcoming game against the New York Jets. Something apparently changed his mindset this week because he’s interviewing two days before the Bucs (12-4) host Carolina (5-11) to close out the regular season.
Tampa Bay is currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC but can move up to No. 2 by beating the Panthers and having the Los Angeles Rams lose to San Francisco on Sunday. They also could drop to the No. 4 seed if Dallas beats Philadelphia on Saturday and the Bucs and the Rams lose.
“I really think it’s disrespectful to the Jets and whoever you’re playing that week when you’re talking about things that really has nothing to do with Sunday’s game,” Leftwich said last week. “I’m completely focused on this football game on Sunday. Obviously, as a coach anytime your name is thrown around, I guess it is what it is, but it really means nothing at this point. It really means nothing at this point, and I kind of think it’s disrespectful to the guys that you really work with every day. That’s really how I view that. 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.”
If Leftwich were to be hired — the Jaguars have already interviewed Jim Caldwell, Doug Pederson, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and are also scheduled to interview Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett within the next week — it would be a homecoming for him. The Jaguars drafted Leftwich third overall in 2003 out of Marshall, and he ranks fourth in franchise history in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
The Jaguars have also requested interviews with Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
The Jaguars fired Urban Meyer with cause just before 1 a.m. ET on Dec. 16 after he went 2-11 and committed a string of embarrassing missteps that included two viral videos of him behaving inappropriately with a woman who wasn’t his wife, reports of him berating his assistant coaches, trying to hire a strength coach who was accused of making racist remarks and bullying Black players at Iowa, and having No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence alternate days with the first team with Gardner Minshew during training camp.
Former kicker Josh Lambo on Dec. 15 also accused Meyer of kicking him during warm-ups before an August practice, an allegation that Meyer disputed. A spokesperson for owner Shad Khan released a statement to The Associated Press that said Khan made the decision to fire Meyer after the Jaguars’ 20-0 loss in Tennessee on Dec. 12.
ESPN’s Jenna Laine contributed to this report.