Steve Wilks

Redskins Offered Steve Wilks Staff Role

After six years with the Panthers, Steve Wilks went through one-year stints with the Cardinals and Browns the past two seasons. The Browns made him a finalist for their 2020 defensive coordinator job but opted not to retain him for a second season, going with Joe Woods instead.

Wilks does not intend to coach this year, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required), but he had at least one opportunity with a former coworker and perhaps two.

Ron Rivera offered Wilks the Redskins’ assistant HC/secondary job, Person adds, also noting Wilks met with Dave Gettleman about a Giants role. Gettleman and Wilks worked together for five years in Carolina. Washington then went with Chris Harris, who spent the past four seasons as the Chargers’ assistant DBs coach, to lead its secondary.

Wilks, 50, has coached in the NFL for 14 straight seasons. He joined Rivera’s Panthers staff in 2012 and finished that tenure as Carolina’s defensive coordinator in 2017. Wilks was a college assistant from 1995-2005. But the former head coach will wait until the 2021 hiring period to get back in the game. The Cardinals are still paying Wilks, having signed him to a four-year deal in 2018 before firing him after that season.

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Browns Down To Steve Wilks, Joe Woods For Defensive Coordinator

New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is considering keeping Steve Wilks in his role as defensive coordinator while also considering former Broncos DC Joe Woods. The Browns are down to Wilks and Woods for the job, Jim Trotter of NFL.com tweets.

This news comes a day after Wade Phillips and ex-Vikings DC George Edwards were believed to be in the mix. But Stefanski looks to have since narrowed the field. He and Woods worked together for eight years in Minnesota, with Woods coaching the Vikings’ defensive backs from 2006-13 — Stefanski’s first eight years with the franchise.

Wilks has spent one season as Browns DC, coming over after a one-and-done tenure as Cardinals head coach. Woods, who replaced Phillips in Denver as Broncos DC in 2017, is currently serving as the 49ers’ pass-game coordinator and secondary coach.

Freddie Kitchens brought Wilks over from Arizona. The Browns improved from 30th to 22nd defensively from Gregg Williams but dropped from 18th to 23rd in defensive DVOA. Wilks, 50, also oversaw the Panthers’ defense in 2017, being promoted after a five-year run as Carolina’s secondary coach.

Woods received the same promotion in Denver, with the Broncos opting to let Phillips walk in 2017 to elevate Woods. While Woods’ two Broncos defenses were solid, the 49ers’ rise from 23rd to second in pass-defense DVOA has obviously been key to the NFC No. 1 seed’s success. The 49ers’ Richard Sherman-led secondary has become a much better unit compared to last season, when Sherman did not play at a Pro Bowl level. Woods also oversaw the Broncos’ dominant No-Fly Zone secondary that helped the team to a championship in 2015, working under Phillips. Woods, 49, has a chance to collect a second Super Bowl ring and may ride that momentum into another DC job.

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Staff Notes: Rams, Cards, Bengals, Pats

The Rams will bring in Wade Phillips‘ son to be part of their offensive staff. Wes Phillips will move from the nation’s capital to Los Angeles, with Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reporting (on Twitter) the former Redskins tight ends coach will take over that position with the Rams. This move was rumored prior to Super Bowl LIII, and it will come to fruition. The father-son tandem has not been on the same staff since Wade’s days as Cowboys head coach. Wes Phillips’ move west will likely coincide with Rams tight ends coach Shane Waldron focusing on his duties as passing game coordinator and Jedd Fisch shifting to quarterbacks coach.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Cardinals continued to add new assistants. Kliff Kingsbury‘s staff will include Charlie Bullen as assistant linebackers coach and Peter Badovinac, Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic notes. Bullen spent the past seven seasons with the Dolphins, serving as a defensive assistant throughout the Joe Philbin and Adam Gase tenures. Bullen and new Cardinals DC Vance Joseph worked together in 2016. Badnovinac will follow Kingsbury from the college ranks, moving to Arizona after stays at Missouri State and Ohio State. Badnovinac accepted a graduate assistant position at Oklahoma recently but will begin his first NFL job instead. The Cardinals also hired Spencer Whipple and Rob Grosso as quality control coaches.
  • While the Rams are hiring their defensive coordinator’s son, the Patriots are expected to add the son of former executive Mike Lombardi. Mick Lombardi is expected to be one of Bill Belichick‘s new hires, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter). The Patriots employed the younger Lombardi from 2011-12; he served as the Jets’ assistant quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. New England just lost assistant QBs coach Jerry Schuplinski to Miami.
  • Steve Wilks received interest from teams aside from the Browns but scheduled the Cleveland summit first because that was his top choice, according to McManaman. The one-and-done Cardinals coach is now the Browns‘ DC, coming to Cleveland after receiving a substantial buyout from his four-year Cards contract.
  • The Bengals looked to the local high school ranks for a staffer, hiring Cincinnati Moeller head coach Doug Rosfield to become the assistant to Zac Taylor, per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Rosfield spent 11 total seasons at Moeller. In between those stays, he worked as the University of Cincinnati’s director of player development for three years.

Coaching Notes: Kaczor, Redskins, Panthers, Goodwin

The Redskins announced yesterday that they’ve hired Nate Kaczor as their new special teams coordinator. The long-time coach had interviewed with the organization earlier this week.

“We are excited to have Nate join our staff. We have had the opportunity to face his special teams play during his time at Tampa Bay and respected competing against him,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “He is a competitor and we have noticed and admired the intensity his units have played with through the course of his time as a special teams coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL.”

Kaczor had spent the past three seasons in the same role with the Buccaneers, and he previously served as the Titans’ special teams coordinator. He also had a stint as an assistant with the Jaguars. Prior to his tenure in the NFL, Kaczor spent 17 years in the NCAA, with jobs at Idaho and Nebraska-Kearney.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Panthers owner David Tepper told reports that he didn’t want to “make rash decision[s]” on the status of head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney (via Joe Person of The Athletic on Twitter). Ultimately, the owner judge the duo throughout the entire 2018 season (not just the stretch run), and this led to him retaining the pair for the 2019 season.
  • Buccaneers assistant head coach Harold Goodwin wasn’t happy that Steve Wilks lost his job with the Cardinals, noting that his friend never got a chance to succeed. “That hurt a little bit,” Goodwin told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He’s a friend of mine. We worked together back in the day with the Bears. It’s hard to build something from the ground up with one year. It’s like, ‘Hey, I want you to start this Fortune 500 company, but you’ve got one year.’ That’s impossible. And that’s what he was tasked with.”
  • Goodwin also grumbled about the lack of minority hires around the NFL, noting that teams really don’t take the Rooney Rule seriously. “Every time I went in to interview, ‘You don’t call plays.’ Well, I did call plays in the preseason,” Goodwin said. “Are we looking for play-callers or are we looking for leaders? Leaders of men, who can help build an organization from the ground up on the football side…The next excuse was, ‘Well, we don’t like your staff.’ A lot of my staff is still coaching. Some guys are coordinators in the NFL now that have had a lot of success that were on my list.”
  • We learned yesterday that the Cardinals added another name to their offensive coordinator search, as former Browns head coach Hue Jackson is scheduled to interview for the gig.

Browns Hire Todd Monken, Steve Wilks

The Browns’ coaching staff is officially set. On Monday, the Browns officially announced the hiring of Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator and Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator. In addition to those hires, the club appointed Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator, Stump Mitchell as the running backs coach/run game coordinator, James Campen as offensive line coach/associate head coach, and Ryan Lindley as quarterbacks coach.

Monken has a reputation for savvy play calling, even though Buccaneers’ offense was inconsistent in 2018. The Bucs didn’t consider him as a potential replacement for head coach Dirk Koetter, but other clubs were eager to talk with him. The Bengals, Packers, and Jets all interviewed him for their head coaching vacancies and several clubs showed keen interest in bringing him on as their new OC. Ultimately, Monken chose the Browns, who offer tremendous potential and a potential star quarterback in Baker Mayfield.

Wilks was one-and-done as the Cardinals’ head coach after the team limped to a 3-13 record. His defense did not perform up to par in Arizona, but he built a reputation for himself as a smart defensive mind in Carolina. In his six seasons with the Panthers (five as defensive backs coach, one as DC), the club finished with a top 10 defense five times.

Browns To Hire Steve Wilks As DC, Todd Monken As OC

Steve Wilks wasn’t out of work long. The recently fired Cardinals head coach will be joining the Browns as Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Just moments later, Rapoport reported in a separate tweet that Todd Monken would be joining the Browns as their offensive coordinator.

While Rapoport the deal for Wilks isn’t quite done yet, he writes that the two sides are “close on a deal and it should be done tomorrow.” Things came together quite quickly for Freddie Kitchens’ staff, and the coaching staff now has a lot of star power. Wilks was fired by the Cardinals after just one season after the team limped to a 3-13 record.

Monken received a lot of praise for his work as the Buccaneers’ play caller this season, but wasn’t retained after head coach Dirk Koetter was let go. Monken used a creative, downfield oriented passing offense with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and his offensive philosophy would seem to mesh well with Kitchens’.

Monken received some head coaching buzz and interviews this cycle, but obviously didn’t land a gig. The Lions and Packers were reportedly interested in talking to him about their offensive coordinator vacancies, but Monken clearly was intrigued by the prospect of working with Baker Mayfield. He also interviewed with the Jaguars a few days ago.

We heard a couple days ago that the Browns were working to bring in Wilks, so this isn’t a surprise. Wilks’ lone season as a head coach clearly didn’t work out, but he was highly regarded as a coordinator with the Panthers before that.

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Browns Working To Hire Steve Wilks As DC

New Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens appears prepared to make the first major hire to his coaching staff. The team is working on a deal to hire former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks as the team’s defensive coordinator, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

Just earlier today, it was reported Wilks, who served one season as Arizona’s head coach, was expected to interview for the position. He apparently won over the new Browns head coach, and the two sides are working to finalize an agreement.

Wilks, 49, went 3-13 in his one season with the Cardinals before he was fired late last week. Despite the poor record, the coach had the support of the players, including Larry Fitzgerald, who advocated for his return. Before going to Arizona, Wilks served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2017, helping the team rank No. 7 in yards allowed (317.1) and tied for 10th in points surrendered (20.4).

The Browns will not have to adjust to a new defensive scheme, as Wilks employs the same 4-3 unit that Cleveland has used for the last two seasons.

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Browns To Interview Steve Wilks, Interested In Steve Spagnuolo

The Browns are interviewing former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks for their open defensive coordinator position on Friday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Cleveland also has interest in former Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo and could meet with him in the near future, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Cleveland is searching for a new defensive play-caller after new head coach Freddie Kitchens dismissed Gregg Williams earlier this week. Given that he’s handling the offense, Kitchens would likely give his new DC great autonomy. As a former head coach, Wilks would be ready for that responsibility, and despite his lack of success in the desert, his 2017 Panthers defense played extremely well, ranking seventh in DVOA.

Wilks is unlikely to reunite with Carolina, tweets Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. There’d been some thought that Wilks would head back to the Panthers after his sole season with Arizona, but that won’t be happening. Carolina is retaining DC Eric Washington, while head coach Ron Rivera will call the team’s defensive plays.

Spagnuolo, meanwhile, didn’t coach in 2018, but is highly respected around the NFL for his work as the Giants’ DC. The 59-year-old also comes with head coaching experience, as he led the Rams from 2009-11.

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Reactions To Cardinals Hiring Kliff Kingsbury

The Cardinals reached by hiring Kliff Kingsbury, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic opines. Kingsbury satisfies the team’s desire for a young and innovative offensively-minded coach, but his lack of NFL experience is cause for alarm in Somers’ view.

Steve Spurrier, for example, fell on his face as an NFL coach and Chip Kelly‘s luck ran out after his first two years with the Eagles. Some could argue that Kingsbury is a hire in the Sean McVay mold, but as Somers notes, McVay spent nine years as an NFL assistant before landing the Rams gig.

Here’s more on the Cardinals and Kingsbury:

  • Per the terms of his contract at USC, Kingsbury owes the school a $150K buyout to resign and take the Cardinals head coaching job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. There was much discussion about the buyout being a barrier to an NFL deal, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep him from joining the pro ranks. In all likelihood, the Cardinals will pick up the tab for that.
  • Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill didn’t like former coach Steve Wilks’ plan for the future, as Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated writes. “Looking at his plan for 2019 I just didn’t feel like it was a plan that I wanted to get behind,” Bidwill said. With that said, its unclear whether Bidwill actually discussed Wilks’ future plans in depth before firing him on Dec. 31. It’s also curious that he feels more secure in Kingsbury’s five-year plan given that he has never coached in the NFL.
  • Speaking of the Cardinals, the Buccaneers agreed to hire former Cards coach Bruce Arians on Tuesday night. The Cardinals claimed that they still hold Arians’ rights (even though he retired in 2017), so they were able to finagle a small amount of draft capital out of Tampa Bay.

Cardinals Fire Steve Wilks

The last expected move has been made official, as the Cardinals have fired head coach Steve Wilks, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Twitter link). 

The team showed a lot of fight in their Week 17 game against the Seahawks but came up short, and it ultimately wasn’t enough to save Wilks’ job. Wilks ended up lasting just one season in Arizona. While being a one and done is rare, it’s certainly not unheard of, and Wilks’ fate was sealed with a 3-13 record. Arizona’s season was doomed from the start, as it was clear right from the get-go that Sam Bradford didn’t have anything left in the tank. Bradford was benched for Josh Rosen, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired shortly thereafter.

The firing of McCoy did nothing to spark the offense, and Rosen showed little progress during his rookie year, which was likely one of the determining factors in Wilks’ firing. Wilks came to Arizona after a successful year as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, and has always been well liked by players.

It’s been heavily rumored that the Panthers will have a staff shakeup on defense, and Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that he would “be very surprised” if Wilks doesn’t return to Carolina in some fashion. The Wilks firing makes eight openings across the league, and it will likely be the last firing barring any late surprises.

The Cardinals have been linked to a number of coaches, including Mike McCarthy, and are seemingly interested in hiring an offensive mind to pair with Rosen. They also were reportedly impressed with Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores during last year’s cycle, and with Flores set to be one of the top available candidates, could be interested again. At this point it appears that GM Steve Keim, also rumored to have been on the hot seat, has been spared.

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