Matt Rhule's tenure in Carolina was ... flat-out bad. A 1-4 record to begin this season carried his reign to an 11-27 conclusion before he was ousted two weeks ago.
In his place came Steve Wilks, a defensive coach in his second stint with the franchise — the first coming from 2012-2017, when the team went to the Super Bowl under Cam Newton.
All eyes are on the 53-year-old coach, not only because his team pulled off a massive upset against Tom Brady's Buccaneers in the game after trading Christian McCaffrey last Sunday, but because he has an uphill battle in earning a full-time job.
Of the 40 interim head coaches since 2000, according to The Washington Post, just 10 have earned the full position. Black coaches have been named interim HC just 14 times since 1990, and only three were retained. Only three NFL head coaches out of 32 are Black.
Wilks was previously the head coach for the Cardinals in 2018, though he was fired after one season when the team finished just 3-13. His abrupt end, in which his representation alleges he was hired as a "bridge coach" who wasn't put in position to succeed, led him to join Brian Flores' racial discrimination suit against the NFL.
Make no mistake, the Panthers have a bad football roster, quarterback uncertainty, and are actively trying to trade away some of their best players, but he has the support of the players.
“He’s a leader of men,’’ Josh Norman, who previously played under Wilks told ESPN. “There is no question about when he walks in a room who has the reins.’’
His current team is playing for him, too. “Wilks is a Charlotte guy. He has nothing but respect from this team and this city,” linebacker Shaq Thompson told The Athletic. “We’ve gotta go out there and get it done for him.”
The Panthers have the fifth-fewest pass yards and are tied for the second-fewest passing touchdowns (6)
Despite the QB uncertainty, Carolina's thrown four 40+ yard passes, which is more than Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers have
The Panthers' defense has scored two pick-sixes, tied for the most in the NFL