Panthers should consider bringing Steve Wilks back
The Panthers should consider bringing Wilks back in 2019.
Perhaps the firing of an old friend could mean a return to the Carolina Panthers? That is a situation that presents itself with former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks. Wilks was fired from his post as Cardinals head coach on Monday after the team finished with a 3-13 record. That will guarantee Arizona the top overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for the first time since 1958.
As far as his positions with the Panthers, Wilks was the defensive backs coach in 2012 as well as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach from 2015-2016. He then served as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2017. Currently, Eric Washington holds the role of defensive coordinator.
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The Panthers should consider bringing Wilks back and putting Washington in charge of the linebackers and the line again. In 2017, the defense was much better than what we saw this season. They ranked seventh in total yards given up with 5,074. This year, they ranked 15th with 5,651 yards given up on the season. Last year, they had 50 sacks on the year. This year, they only recorded 35 which ranked at the bottom of the league. There are numerous categories in which the Panthers recorded better statistics last year than this year. The point here is, the Panthers were more effective on defense last year and it does not take a bunch of statistics to realize that.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I would not mind if Wilks came back in the defensive coordinator role while Washington assumed the defensive line position again. He was much more effective in that role and the Carolina Panthers enjoyed success under him especially at the linebacker position. Particularly in the 2015 season, the defense seemed to be unstoppable. I understand that this was Washington’s first year as the defensive coordinator, but he looked way in over his head.
If the Panthers can correct their defense next season, they should be very good. They have the right mix of veteran and rookie talent to really make some noise in the NFC South. That’s what made their failures this year so disappointing. With Wilks having led successful defensive units before, maybe he can work his magic again with the Panthers. Under him, they seemed more aggressive and willing to attack the football. This year, they played very conservatively.
I am not suggesting that Washington is a bad coach. Rather I just think he was put in the wrong role this season. I truly think he is more effective with the linebackers and defensive line. If Carolina can somehow bring Wilks back, they now have a pair of coaches operating with their positional strengths. That would benefit the Panthers greatly in 2019. The chances of this happening may seem unlikely, but the Panthers should consider it if they want to have success in the new year.