As the infamous Monday-after-the-regular-season unfolded, one name began circulating quickly and often as head coaches were fired and replacement interviews requested: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.
In his first season as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, Wilkes confirmed Monday afternoon he had received interview requests from the Indianapolis Colts, the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants.
Multiple reports also surfaced that Wilks had been officially requested by the Chicago Bears, who fired former Panthers coach John Fox following a lackluster season.
After Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement on Monday afternoon, that vacancy also could be a potential fit for Wilks.
Yet another intriguing offseason wrinkle for Wilks is that the Giants hired former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman as their GM last week.
Carolina cannot block Wilks from interviewing for the positions, but because the Panthers are in the playoffs he cannot interview for those jobs until the postseason run has ended.
Wilks said he’s glad for the opportunities, but wants to focus on Carolina’s upcoming wild-card game in New Orleans on Sunday.
“That’s what you work hard for – the opportunities,” he said. “But most importantly, once again, is trying to stay focused on the Saints and take care of those guys.”
Wilks said that most of the planning and portfolio work for such jobs takes place during the summer. He got his feet wet last offseason with his first known head-coaching interview, with the Los Angeles Rams, before taking the Panthers’ defensive coordinator post following the hire of Sean McDermott as Buffalo’s head coach.
Wilks’ unit finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL rushing defense (88.1 yards per game), No. 3 in sacks (50), seventh in total defense (317.1) and No. 18 in passing defense (229 yards per game).