Steve Wilks a ‘slam dunk’ for Carolina Panthers head coaching job?
By Dean Jones
Should interim head coach Steve Wilks be considered a slam dunk to lead the Carolina Panthers beyond his 2022 commitments?
Despite suffering a disappointing loss in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s done nothing to diminish the belief that Steve Wilks could become Carolina Panthers head coach beyond 2022. The interim appointment has done a significant amount of good work in a short space of time since replacing Matt Rhule, who never looked capable of leading grown men with the same success he accomplished in college.
Wilks is deeply connected to the Panthers and has reinstalled a spirit that was sorely lacking under the previous coach. His no-nonsense approach is going down well within the locker room and although there is some way to go, the one-time college star at Appalachian State is off to a good start.
There are already calls to remove the interim tag from Wilks from large sections of the fanbase. While the Rooney Rule prevents this before interviews take place, many in the local and national media seem to believe it’s his job to lose right now.
Steve Wilks is considered a slam dunk for Carolina Panthers’ job
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN even cited an AFC executive who claimed Wilks should be a slam dunk for the job considering how much he’s done with very little since taking charge.
"“Support for Wilks getting the Panthers’ job full-time is building in some league circles after his 4-4 start. As one AFC executive told me, Wilks should be a “slam dunk” to get the job because he has improved morale in the locker room, reenergized the staff and promoted a physical style of football. At the very least, he has positioned himself well as owner David Tepper charts a direction for the franchise.”"
Sounds good, in theory. And nobody would mind all that much if Wilks was given an extended period to build his own staff and finally solve the complex riddle at quarterback that Rhule never achieved.
But the only person that matters in this scenario is David Tepper. A man that isn’t exactly known for making the right football decisions since purchasing the Panthers from Jerry Richardson.
According to multiple reports, Tepper is after someone with legitimate NFL coaching experience, which Wilks possesses. However, his rumored intent to get a bright offensive mind to mold a young signal-caller threatens to throw a wrench into the plans.
All it will take is for Tepper to become enamored with an interviewee for the pendulum to shift. Something that could spell the end of Wilks’ dreams of coaching his hometown team.
Of course, if the Panthers somehow win the NFC South, it shifts the dynamic. Going a different route in this scenario would be difficult for Tepper, who’d likely draw more fury from a fanbase that’s becoming increasingly disillusioned about his ownership.
Tepper might have made his mind up already. Wilks himself can also leave no doubt before the 2022 campaign concludes – so the stakes are pretty high despite Carolina’s 5-9 record.
Wilks has proven credentials and is a leader of men. He’ll need the right staff around him, but this has all the makings of something special if Tepper gives it the green light.
It seems so simple. Even though Tepper’s unpredictability could make this more complicated than it needs to be.