Wildcard Sunday Commentary: Panthers DC Wilks Deserves Consideration

| January 7th, 2018

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were supposed to be in Carolina to run the table, but Steve Wilks and the Panthers had other ideas, knocking Rodgers around and essentially ending the Packers season.

That game gave Bears fans a lot to like when it comes to Carolina’s assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. He wasn’t scared of Rodgers. He wasn’t scared of the moment. He wasn’t just going to let the quarterback who has tormented the Bears for years come in and win. He attacked Rodgers. He hit him repeatedly, left him battered, bruised and intercepted him three times.

While he only has one season as a defensive coordinator, Wilks has been in the league for a long time and has been the assistant head coach (a move teams made to keep their coaches) for the last three seasons in which Carolina has gone 32-16.

  • As a coordinator, he brought Carolina’s defense from 26th in scoring to 11th.
  • As a defensive backs coach, Wilks has worked with guys like Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Danieal Manning, Quentin Jammer, Eric Weddle, Antonio Cromartie, Josh Norman and Sean Taylor.
  • He’s been a part of several top-10 defenses, has an NFL record of 133-90-1 and coached on two Super Bowl teams.

On top of that, Wilks is considered to be a great leader and excellent communicator, arguably the two biggest qualities that make a head coach successful.

The biggest issue with Wilks — as it is with all defensive coaches — is his relationship with the quarterback. Wilks could, in theory, tap his former boss Norv Turner to run the offense. He could turn to Rod Chudzinski, Pep Hamilton or one of the numerous offensive coaches who currently sits unemployed. If he has any hope of landing the Bears job — or any other for that matter — Wilks has to come with a coordinator who is going to get the job done.

But the greatest dynasty the league has seen since the merger is run by a defensive coach. The Vikings took the NFC North from the Packers by hiring a defensive coach. Seattle had a great run with, yes, a defensive coach. There’s an argument to be made that the best way for long-term success is to pair a franchise quarterback with a defensive coach — as long as that defensive coach understands the impotence of the position.

If Wilks can promise to bring a great offensive mind to develop Trubisky — at least for a couple of seasons — then he deserves heavy consideration.