Somehow, someway, the Carolina Panthers find themselves in the thick of the playoff race after 14 weeks of NFL action. Following their 30-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers currently find themselves with a 5-8 record and just one game out of first place in their division. The vast majority of this success has come with interim head coach Steve Wilks calling the shots, so should the Panthers hire him to be the full-time head coach in 2023?
Steve Wilks Deserves Panthers Head Coach Consideration in 2023
The Case For Steve Wilks
It should go without saying that the most important thing a head coach can do is win football games, and Wilks has done a remarkable job in that regard since becoming the interim head coach. After inheriting a 1-4 roster and trading away Christian McCaffrey, nobody would have been too surprised if the Panthers tanked the rest of the way and ended up with a top-five pick. Instead, the Panthers are 4-4 during Wilks’ eight games calling the shots, and should actually be 5-3 if it weren’t for an incorrect call on D.J. Moore’s miraculous touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.
PJ WALKER TO DJ MOORE, HOLY COW!pic.twitter.com/hNazMcWFwe
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 30, 2022
Winning is always good, but it’s not like this team is loaded with talent. The Panthers have a few talented players, but by and large, this roster is not exactly one of the best in the NFL. Additionally, Wilks has played three different starting quarterbacks since taking over, and none of the three are particularly great at their job. Put it this way, if you put Todd Bowles in charge of this team, the Panthers would probably be 2-11 right now.
This isn’t Wilks’ first time as a head coach, and based on his previous record, one might believe that his performance with Carolina is just a fluke. Yes, he did lead the Arizona Cardinals to an uninspiring 3-13 record, but nobody could have won with that team. A rookie Josh Rosen started every single game, and the best playmaker on offense was 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. The offensive line was the worst in the league, and the defense wasn’t much better. Maybe Bill Belichick or Andy Reid guides that team to seven wins, but nobody else could have won even five games with that terrible squad.
The Case Against Steve Wilks
While Wilks can’t be held completely responsible for his poor record in Arizona, but it is concerning that the team fired him after just one season. The Cardinals hired Wilks knowing that they would need time before they were ready to compete, yet they still decided he wasn’t the man to lead the organization into the future.
Additionally, second-time head coaches that crashed and burned the first time rarely pan out. For every one Bill Belichick, there are 10 Josh McDaniels, Dennis Allen’s, or Todd Bowles. Being a head coach in the NFL is a ridiculously hard job, and some people just aren’t cut out for it. Perhaps Wilks is the exception to the rule, but betting on outliers is a great way to go broke.
Even if Wilks has what it takes to be a decent head coach, he specializes in defense. Today’s NFL is all about offense, especially if you have a young quarterback. The Panthers will have a new signal caller under center next year, and the Panthers need to do everything they can to make sure that their next quarterback can turn into a franchise guy. Recently, mock drafts have sent Anthony Richardson to Carolina, and he could be great with the right coaching.
Wilks has definitely done well enough to earn an interview for the head coaching position at the end of the season. However, if the team believes that somebody like Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson could handle the job, then they need to go with him. At the end of the day, you need a quarterback to have any chance of sustained success, and the Panthers need to hire a guy that gives you the best possible chance of sustained success and the game’s most important position.