Would Steve Wilks accept defensive coordinator position in 2023?

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks /

If Steve Wilks does not become Carolina Panthers head coach, would he be willing to accept the defensive coordinator position, instead?

Steve Wilks is a proud man. One that is easy to root for and has the complete support of Carolina Panthers players in pursuit of becoming head coach.

His work as interim was exactly what the Panthers needed when Matt Rhule’s reign came to an abrupt end after Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers. Wilks made Carolina proud to follow once again and almost got them to a shock NFC South title triumph before faltering in Week 17 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There is nothing more Wilks could have done. His strong interview also put him among the final two candidates alongside Frank Reich, who is reportedly gaining significant momentum to become Rhule’s permanent successor.

This is in keeping with David Tepper‘s desire to find someone with legitimate head coaching experience. But the billionaire might go bold and try to keep both on the coaching staff if he feels like it’s the correct thing to do.

Steve Wilks might not accept the Carolina Panthers DC role in 2023

This was a sentiment echoed by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, who outlined his belief this was being seriously contemplated by Tepper one way or another. However, the respected insider also projected this to be a “tough sell” all things considered.

"“The Panthers’ coaching search is wrapping up, with owner David Tepper in the building today. I think ideally—and this is my opinion—they’d love to have Frank Reich and Steve Wilks on a staff together. That, though, would be a tough sell to whoever didn’t get the HC job.”"

If Wilks doesn’t do enough to get the job, then becoming Carolina’s defensive coordinator is another option. This could be seen as a slap in the face considering all his exceptional accomplishments as an interim, so exploring other opportunities might be the way he decides to go in this scenario.

Sheena Quick of FOX Sports Radio1340 indicated that the Atlanta Falcons are monitoring Wilks’ situation with the Panthers. One that could see the NFC South rivals make an approach for him to become their next defensive coordinator if he doesn’t get the top job.

Bringing Wilks in as a coordinator might not sit too well with players that wanted him to be their head coach. And a divided locker room is a dangerous thing right out of the gate for Reich if he is preferred.

The same applies to Reich if it was the other way around. But if Tepper did somehow pull this off, it would be the best move of his Carolina ownership to date by a considerable margin.

This is a tough decision that could go either way. Reporters such as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expect an announcement soon, which will shape the future of the franchise ahead of an immensely important offseason.

Few would argue the credentials Wilks brings to the table. But the offensive mind is king in today’s NFL, which means Reich could be the frontrunner given his proven credentials and track record of developing young quarterbacks throughout a lengthy coaching career.

Keeping Wilks around in a coordinator capacity is a win for the Panthers. Whether he’d be willing is another matter entirely.

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