Steve Wilks seriously pleads to win Panthers permanent head coach job

Winning the permanent head coaching job at Carolina was always going to be a tough climb for interim coach Steve Wilks, but sources in Charlotte say Panthers owner David Tepper liked the competitive turnaround he got. seen from the team since Wilks took over.

Wilks, the former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, took over after Tepper fired Matt Rhule five games this season. The Panthers went 2-4 under Wilks, and among those four losses was an extra point missed against the Falcons at 3-3 and a showdown last week in Baltimore that saw a 3-3 tie midway through the fourth. quarter.

All of this is happening as the Panthers are now in their third starting quarterback of the season. Only the Miami Dolphins have had three different starters this year, and that was solely due to injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.

Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick that Carolina traded for this offseason after a strong push from Rhule, has now been benched for the second time this season. The first time came when third QB PJ Walker retained his starting role after Mayfield returned to health after spraining his ankle. After a performance against the Ravens that earned a 54.6 passer rating last week, Mayfield found his way back to the bench.

Sam Darnold gets the start Sunday against the Broncos in his first action of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury in the preseason. Darnold offers more athleticism at the post than Mayfield, and he’ll help Carolina move the pocket while making plays after things have broken down much better than Mayfield.

“Sam has a better arm and will try his luck,” a Panthers source said. Indeed, Mayfield had just 7.3% of his pass attempts 20 yards or more on the field, third worst among all qualified quarterbacks. And 30.1% of his throws are at or behind the line of scrimmage, second in the league.

Wilks’ eventual record would certainly factor into Tepper’s decision to make the interim head coach his permanent coach, but that won’t be all. Tepper realizes Carolina has one of the league’s worst quarterbacking situations, having retired two of the top three draft picks and getting its best – albeit sometimes inconsistent – ​​play from Walker, who was leading the XFL Houston Roughnecks two years ago.

But Carolina is also clearly a more competitive football team with Wilks in charge, and that was noted by another (permanent) NFL head coach earlier this week to CBS Sports. In the absence of quality play in the sport’s most important position, Wilks has instituted a greater attitude towards football management and is more aggressive up front.

This is evidenced by a running game that somehow improved even after trading their best player, Christian McCaffrey.

In Week 5 with Rhule as head coach, the Panthers ranked 15th in the league in yards per rush (4.36) and 25th in the league in yards before contact per rush (1.13).

Since Wilks took over in Week 6, the Panthers rank 11th in the league in yards per carry (4.62) and 14th in the league in yards before contact per carry (1.68).

Sources have previously told CBS Sports that Tepper wants a promising offensive mind as the next head coach, coming out of the pro ranks rather than college. But Wilks is pushing hard, and what he and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo are able to accomplish to close out this season before Carolina can land a franchise quarterback in the 2023 draft could make Wilks a contender. hard to refuse – especially with the bedroom locker on his side.

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