Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks is restoring pride back into the organization following their Week 7 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was a difficult week for the Carolina Panthers heading into their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. An embarrassing loss at the Los Angeles Rams coupled with trading away Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey left morale at an all-time low sitting at 1-5, which was reflected in the 13.5-point deficit they found themselves in with sportsbooks across the country.
One man above all else was tasked with galvanizing this group after more significant changes. Interim head coach Steve Wilks is getting a prolonged audition to win the job long-term after the Panthers fired Matt Rhule and after a rocky start, there is real hope things can finally start trending in a positive direction.
All the talk of tanking without McCaffrey wasn’t ever going to wash where Wilks is concerned. A proud man who knows exactly what this franchise means to its long-suffering fanbase, who’ve been more unattached than ever before thanks to severe mismanagement of the highest order from Rhule over his three years in the role.
Steve Wilks restoring respectability for the Carolina Panthers
The players are responding well to Wilks’ no-nonsense methods. He’s been around long enough to know what makes football tick in the Carolinas and this newfound confidence was there for all to see during their impressive Week 7 victory and the emotional scenes within the locker room following the triumph.
There’s been no secret formula, here. This was always a talented group that were lacking in certain areas, so all it needed was a more capable figure leading them as head coach, which Wilks clearly is compared to Rhule.
While Rhule was more focus on his own personal messages, Wilks is looking for the players to become the focal point. And if everyone remains on the same page over the next ten games, the former Arizona Cardinals head coach believes anything is possible.
"“Again, I just think it’s just really trying to set the tone, and I make it about them. I make it about us. I stood in front of these guys at the beginning when I first took over here, and I said, ‘you know, in order for us to go forward, we are going to have to surrender their individual me for the greater we.’ That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about certain individuals. It’s not about me. When we continue to keep the focus on us, I think we have a chance.”"
Somehow, the Panthers remain in contention for the NFC South crown. Whether they can do enough to win the division is highly debatable, but there is now a added incentive to start putting a consistent run of results together.
Carolina could top the division with a win at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 and if other results going their way. An unbelievable notion considering the state of affairs before Rhule’s firing and the fact their former face of the franchise is on the San Francisco 49ers.
Wilks is a hugely respected figure. A man of principle that knows how to lead men successfully.
It’s going to be a process and there will be some bumps along the way. But restoring respectability to a once-proud organization is objective No. 1 for Wilks, a challenge he might be able to accomplish after all.
And that might be enough for Wilks to enter legitimate contention for the full-time gig in 2022.