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Steve Wilks Named New Cardinals Head Coach

Posted Jan 22, 2018

Team gives Panthers defensive coordinator four-year contract

New Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks talks Monday after signing his contract to succeed Bruce Arians as head coach.

As they did last time they had a vacancy, the Cardinals were the final team to find a head coach this January.

They are counting on the hire of Steve Wilks to create the same kind of success that came with Bruce Arians.

The Cards named Wilks, the Panthers defensive coordinator, their new head coach on Monday after Arians retired earlier this month. Wilks, 48, signed a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth season.

A press conference officially introducing Wilks will be Tuesday at noon Arizona time.

“This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,” Wilks told azcardinals.com. “We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It’s all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level.

“I believe building a culture based on three things: Trust, commitment and accountability.”

Under Wilks’ leadership, the Panthers’ defense was seventh in total defense, 11th in points allowed, third in rush defense and third in sacks.

Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, upon seeing the news leak out, tweeted out an emphatic message in all capital letters: "I LOVE IT."

Wilks has been coaching since 1995 and has been an NFL assistant since 2006. The Panthers hired Wilks in 2012 as defensive backs coach, adding assistant head coach to his title in 2014. Wilks was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017, along with his assistant head coach role. He has also coached with the Bears and Chargers. He has coached in two Super Bowls, one each with the Bears and Panthers.

“In our research, they talked about what a passionate coach (Wilks) is on the field and what a terrific leader he is,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “Players love playing for him.”

Technically, the Cards won’t be considered last in the coaching carousel, since the Lions (with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia) and Colts (with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) are still officially waiting to make their announcements. The Giants also hired Pat Shurmur Monday, although technically after Wilks was announced.

From the start, Bidwill emphasized the Cardinals were not in a “race” to fill their spot and were going to take their time to get the right man.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera already knew at the end of the season Wilks could get a head coaching job. Wilks also interviewed with the Giants and Titans, and was among those interviewed for the Rams' vacancy last season.

“I know that Steve is a hot commodity, deservedly-so,” Rivera told Carolina reporters. “He has done a tremendous job wherever he’s been, starting in Chicago and San Diego and down here with us. It’s going to be a tough one. Him and (Bills coach and former Carolina DC) Sean (McDermott) are two very good people who are very special to this organization. We helped build this team.

“I don’t want to talk as if Steve is gone, but I have a hunch. It might be his time.”

Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said he was "ecstatic" for Wilks.

"He's been working very hard and diligently for this right opportunity and there's going to be nothing but success for him," Coleman said. "It's unfortunate, selfishly. You want him here in Carolina and I want him here as one of my coaches, but I can do nothing but be happy for him and for what he's about to do as a head coach."

There had been reports that the Cards might still have second interviews with Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, but those did not come to fruition after Wilks’ strong second interview Friday with Bidwill and General Manager Steve Keim.

“I understand it’s a privilege,” Wilks said. “I’m humbled and honored to be the head coach.”

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