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Should Steve Wilks get the Panthers head coaching job?

We discuss if Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks should be brought on as the permanent head coach next season.

Interim head coach Steve Wilks of the Carolina Panthers exits the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We head into Week 17, and the Carolina Panthers still have a shot at making the playoffs. They have a 6-9 record, and if they can beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, their game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 18 could be for the division and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

The Panthers have had a tumultuous season. They started out with Matt Rhule as their head coach and got out to a 1-4 start to the year. Rhule was relieved of his duties, and Steve Wilks was named as the interim head coach. The team has gone 5-4 since then but has dealt with a revolving door at quarterback between Baker Mayfield, PJ Walker, and Sam Darnold. The latter has retained the starting job, with the Panthers going 3-1 in their last four games.

Wilks has been an NFL head coach before. He held the position for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Unfortunately, the Cardinals had a down season and finished 3-13. Wilks mainly specializes in defense and was the defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach for Carolina before being named the interim coach this season.

The Wilks decision may end up solving itself. If he leads this team to a divisional title as the interim head coach, it would be pretty ridiculous for him to not have the interim tag removed if he wants the job. Sure, Wilks would have gotten lots of help from a seriously underperforming Bucs team, but you have to give him some props. This team has looked better than it has all season, even after they traded away their best player in Christian McCaffrey.

The Panthers aren’t as needy of a rebuild as some would think. A few free-agent signings and smart draft picks could have this team competing for a division title next season with a competent head coach. The franchise is still young, and they have only had one other interim head coach in history. When Ron Rivera was fired in 2019, Perry Fewell took over, but the team finished the season 0-4. This led to the Rhule hiring ahead of the 2020 season. We will see if Wilks even wants the gig, but if he does, he has likely done enough to earn a shot at the permanent job.