Carolina Panthers must look at the bigger picture with Steve Wilks
The Carolina Panthers must look at the bigger picture with interim head coach Steve Wilks despite their poor loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Just when the Carolina Panthers looked like their dream quest for the NFC South would become a reality, a complete capitulation late on saw Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claw back and claim bragging rights. A deeply disappointing end to what’s been an impressive turnaround overall under Steve Wilks.
The interim head coach had a difficult job on his hands after replacing Matt Rhule, who left behind an ungodly mess and took no accountability for his own failings. This task became more challenging after the Panthers traded Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey before the deadline, so to be in this situation with one game remaining represents a pretty good accomplishment in the circumstances.
There are times when Carolina’s been found wanting with Wilks at the helm. But considering all the turmoil clouding the franchise before his promotion, this appointment’s gone far better than many expected.
Carolina Panthers must take everything into account with Steve Wilks
This is a big reason why many players went public in their support of Wilks winning the head coaching gig beyond 2022. One loss – no matter how critical or demoralizing – should change that.
Wilks was in a reflective mood in the game’s immediate aftermath, disappointed about Carolina’s lack of execution. But there is a clear intent to finish the campaign strongly at the New Orleans Saints and conclude his time as an interim with a 6-6 record.
"“The message to the team afterwards was we didn’t do what we wanted to do. They made more plays than what we did today, so we have to give those guys all the credit. We didn’t play according to our DNA, which is physicality and effort, which I thought for the most part you saw that. We didn’t play smart, not at all. The one thing I stated to those guys is the last element we’re going to do this week, and that’s finish. That’s what men do.”"
Whether this result will alter David Tepper‘s perceptions is the million-dollar question. He will reportedly strongly consider the former Arizona Cardinals head coach, but the billionaire is also reportedly looking to interview some of the league’s hot young offensive minds as part of what’s expected to be a thorough process.
Wilks couldn’t have done much more. He completely shifted the culture, installed a level of professionalism Rhule couldn’t manage in three years and got every single player pulling in the same direction.
More importantly, belief returned to a fanbase that had come disillusioned and disengaged in equal measure thanks to the previous regime.
Are there shortcomings? Of course.
But these are the cards Wilks was dealt. So there could be even more to come if he gets the chance to form his own coaching staff and has a say in Carolina’s next franchise quarterback.
That only happens if the Panthers – and Tepper in particular – look at the full body of work rather than what occurred down the stretch in Week 17. A bigger-picture approach is the least Wilks deserves, even if the owner’s unpredictability means nothing is ruled out right now.
Whatever happens, Wilks can look back on his efforts with a great sense of pride. And if things don’t go his way, employment offers elsewhere should be plentiful regardless.