The Cardinals have officially hired Steve Wilks as their new head coach. The news was first reported by Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Per the team’s announcement, it’s a four-year deal with a club option for year five.
Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process. Last week, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo, and incumbent defensive coordinator James Bettcher were all said to be in the mix, but Wilks came out on top.
“This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,” Wilks told the team website. “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.”
Wilks just finished his first year as a defensive coordinator with the Panthers, but has eleven previous seasons of experience as an NFL assistant. Both the Giants and Titans considered Wilks for their head coaching vacancies this year before choosing to hire Pat Shurmur and Mike Vrabel, respectively. Despite his relative lack of coordinator experience, it’s clear that Wilks is highly respected around the NFL.
DeFilippo missed out on the head coaching job in Arizona, but he could potentially become the team’s new offensive coordinator. Previous reports have indicated that Wilks would like to have the Eagles QBs coach as his OC, but Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) notes that the team also plans to talk to other candidates including Mike McCoy and Darrell Bevell.
Meanwhile, Wilks could already have a defensive coordinator in mind. Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb is a candidate to follow Wilks from Carolina to Arizona, according to Garafolo (on Twitter).
Wilks will have some serious tools to work with, including edge rusher Chandler Jones, linebacker Haason Reddick, cornerback Patrick Peterson, and safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker. The return of David Johnson will bolster the team on the other side of the ball, but the Cardinals will have to address their quarterback situation in the wake of Carson Palmer‘s retirement. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also thinking about calling it a career and he has indicated that the team’s head coaching hire will weigh heavily in his decision. With that in mind, a call to Fitzgerald might be one of the top items on Wilks’ to-do list.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.