The Carolina Panthers intend on going through a full head coach search after the recent success of interim head coach Steve Wilks, NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero wrote in a Sunday report.
“Owner David Tepper's top priorities have been solidifying the quarterback position and the offense, so expect the Panthers to interview all of the rising offensive gurus,” the report read. “If Wilks is going to get the job, he'll need to sell his plan for that side of the ball, too.”
The 5-5 record earned by Wilks and the Panthers since he took over for now-Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule has positioned the 53-year-old head coach as a “strong candidate” for the full-time job. Wilks is “well-regarded” and “liked within the building,” the report continued, and Panthers owner David Tepper “respects Wilks' leadership traits.”
Matt Rhule went 1-4 to start the season before the Panthers fired him, opening the opportunity for the former Temple and Baylor head coach to take up the lead spot at Nebraska and compete with newly-hired Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell in the Big Ten West. Rhule was hired as the Panthers' head coach in 2020 after elevating the Baylor Bears from a 1-11 record in his first year to 11-3 two years later.
Steve Wilks last took the head coaching helm with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. He went 3-13 in 16 games before former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury took over the next year. Wilks went on to take the defensive coordinator spot for the Cleveland Browns in 2019 before taking a coordinator job with the Missouri Tigers in 2021.
The Panthers will tie the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the top spot in the NFC South with a 7-9 record with a win in Tampa Bay on Sunday. A win by the New Orleans Saints over the Philadelphia Eagles and a loss by Tampa Bay could give all three teams the same record.