Ex-Cardinals HC Steve Wilks Agrees to Contract to Become Browns DC

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured Columnist

Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks watches during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Raiders won 23-21. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns announced Monday that they have hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks as their defensive coordinator.

Wilks joins a staff that also added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who joins the Browns in the same role. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported Wilks' hire Sunday. 

Wilks was fired by Arizona at the end of the 2018 regular season after just one season. Under his command, the Cardinals (3-13) had their worst performance since 2000 while securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Owning the top pick is something general manager Steve Keim deemed "embarrassing as hell."

While many of the other coaching changes around the league surprised few, Wilks' firing was at least somewhat shocking. He held the position for less than one full calendar year after being hired in January 2018, and he was dealing with a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen.

However, Arizona decided it had seen enough and brought in the offensive-minded Kliff Kingsbury to take over.

Wilks may only have one year of head coaching experience on his resume, but he has more than two decades of coaching experience between college and the pros. He has made a name for himself defensively, including being the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator in 2017.

Cleveland, meanwhile, promoted Freddie Kitchens, previously their offensive coordinator, to head coach after he helped the team go 7-8-1 in 2018. With former defensive coordinator (and interim head coach) Gregg Williams leading the way, the Browns ranked 30th in total defense and 21st in scoring defense.

The team managed 17 interceptions while recovering a league-high 14 fumbles, putting the defense second in the NFL with 31 takeaways.

Wilks inherits a Cleveland defense that has some promising young talent, including Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall.

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