Cardinals defensive coordinator Bowles puts head coaching thoughts 'on back burner'



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TEMPE, Arizona — Apparently every NFL team with a head coaching vacancy wants to talk to Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

"That's what my coaches tell me," Bowles said after Wednesday's practice, "but me and coach (Bruce) Arians talked about it. We'll deal with it next week as opposed to this week."

Various reports have Bowles drawing interest from San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, the New York Jets and Oakland.

"You don't have time to be flattered," Bowles said, "because you don't think about it because you have games to play."

He said his only concern is getting his defense ready for Saturday's wild card playoff game at Carolina.

Because the Cardinals are in the wild card, teams can't interview Bowles until next week.

"We've talked about it," Arians said. "This week is hands off anyways."

Arians said he told Bowles, "Next week, when you're preparing for the game, set aside a time that you want to pick a team or which teams you want to talk to."

"And I'm all for it," Arians said. "He deserves it and he's earned the right, but it's not going to affect his focus on next week's game."

If Arizona has a next week's game.

The Cardinals (11-5), who probably will start third-stringer Ryan Lindley at quarterback, are 5 ½-point underdogs to the Panthers (7-8-1) and are coming off their two worst defensive performances of the season.

"The last two games we've missed an enormous amount of tackles," Bowles said. "We've addressed that. We always do, and the guys have addressed that. We've just got to get them down. It's want-to and we've got to gang tackle. It can't be just one guy. Everybody's got to get to the ball."

Until the last two games, Arizona's defense was the team's backbone and among the NFL's leaders in run defense. But the Cardinals had all kinds of trouble against mobile quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. Now they face another athletic one in Cam Newton, who is bigger and stronger than the other two.

"He's a tight end, he's a quarterback and he's a tailback," Bowles said.

Arizona's defensive players know they have to return to their early-season form, when the team got off to a 9-1 start before losing four of its last six games.

"We've just got to get back to what got us here," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "... We've just got to tackle more viciously."


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