Executives around the NFL have known about Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for a while. When it comes to fans, though, until recently only Panthers fans even knew Wilks’ name.
Now, though, it seems like everyone is scrambling to find out who Wilks is. That is because with the 11-5 Panthers headed to the playoffs thanks in part to an outstanding defense, the 48-year-old Wilks has emerged as a hot candidate for the head-coaching vacancies around the league.
The New York Giants want to talk to Wilks as a possible replacement for Ben McAdoo. The connection there is obvious, with Wilks and GM Dave Gettleman having worked together in Carolina.
The Giants, though, have company. The Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions have also requested permission to interview Wilks for their head-coaching vacancies. He may also be on the radar of the Chicago Bears.
Wilks interviewed last year for the Los Angeles Rams job that went to Sean McVay.
Bradley Smith of SB Nation’s Panthers web site, Cat Scratch Reader, had this to say about Wilks:
“I really, really don't want Wilks to get a head coaching job because that means we lose our best assistant coach. It's almost inevitable at this point, but I'd like to see him stay in Carolina for a few more years because his influence on the defense has been a breath of fresh air. He's very aggressive with blitzing schemes, something the Panthers didn't show under the tenure of Sean McDermott. The Panthers finished this season with a top-ten defense, something they've done every year except for one (2016) since Wilks has been here. It says something to me about his coaching ability when he takes a rag-tag secondary and a group of defensive linemen led by 37-year old Julius Peppers and turns them into a top-ten defense. Of course, he does have the benefit of a generational talent at middle linebacker (Kuechly) and a very good -- arguably great -- outside linebacker in Thomas Davis, but that doesn't take away from his coaching ability. I think Wilks would be a great hire for the Giants, and Dave Gettleman already knows him so he should be a strong candidate to fill your vacancy.”
Last month, Smith posted a piece on why Wilks should be a head coach in 2018. Considering the Giants’ interest, take the time to read it.
Wilks is not available for interviews this week since the Panthers play the New Orleans Saints Sunday in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.