Steve Wilks Hired as Cardinals HC to Replace Bruce Arians

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2018

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2015, file photo, Carolina Panthers assistant head coach Steve Wilks watches players warm up during NFL football team's training camp in Spartanburg, S.C. Wilks was the second coaching candidate the Tennessee Titans interviewed Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018,  as they kicked off their search for a new head coach. The Titans earlier interviewed Mike Vrabel, Houston's defensive coordinator. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The Arizona Cardinals announced Monday that Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has become the team's next head coach, replacing Bruce Arians.

Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com first reported Wilks had emerged as the clear favorite for the job.

According to Kent Somers of AZCentral.com, "The Cardinals had planned to conduct second interviews this week with [New England] Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and [Philadelphia] Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo. Wilks was impressive during a second interview with the team last Friday and is expected to be the successor to Bruce Arians."    

Somers also reported Wilks was interested in hiring DeFilippo as his offensive coordinator. Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb is expected to be hired as Cardinals defensive coordinator, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter

Rapoport shared an anecdote about the first time Wilks met Cardinals general manager Steve Keim: 

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Recently on vacation, a person walked up to #AZCardinals GM Steve Keim and introduced himself. On a beach in the Carolinas, Keim was blown away by this impressive dude. It was Panthers DC Steve Wilks... who Keim is expected to hire as his new head coach.

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson expressed his joy at the hire, with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman giving his seal of approval:

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Patrick Peterson /P2 @P2


*Joshua R. Norman @J_No24

@P2 dude you think your game on a High level now? Your abt to go #Supersonic!SegaGenesis!🤯😩

Wilks, 48, started his NFL coaching career with Washington in 2005 as the secondary coach. He then spent three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears and three years with the then-San Diego Chargers in that same role. Carolina hired him in 2012 as its defensive backs coach, and he also became assistant head coach in 2015 before taking over as defensive coordinator in 2017.

Under Wilks, the Panthers finished seventh in yards allowed and 11th in points allowed after finishing 21st and 26th, respectively, in 2016.

The Cardinals undoubtedly have talent on the defensive side of the ball, led by players such as Peterson, safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, defensive lineman Chandler Jones and linebacker Haason Reddick.

The bigger questions will come on the offensive side of the ball. While David Johnson is one of the most dynamic talents at running back in the NFL, he also missed essentially the entire season in 2017. Quarterback Carson Palmer retired with no clear successor in place. Wideout Larry Fitzgerald is only under contract for one more season and is 34 years old. 

The Cardinals have gone 15-16-1 in the past two years, failing to reach the postseason since 2015. Wilks will have his work cut out for him rebuilding the offense, but the defense has the potential to be a strong unit immediately. 

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