The New York Giants confirmed they have interviewed Steve Wilks, a 12-year NFL coaching veteran who just completed his first year as the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, for the team’s head coaching vacancy.
The 48-year-old Wilks, whose Panthers team was eliminated by the Saints this weekend in the NFC Wild Card round, met with team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams Tuesday in East Rutherford.
Wilks is the fifth candidate to interview for the Giants head coaching vacancy. The team previous met with interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Wilks’ prior NFL coaching experience includes stops with the Bears (defensive backs) and the Chargers (defensive backs).
He joined the Panthers in 2012 as their defensive backs coach and was promoted in 2015 as the assistant head coach. In 2017, he was promoted again to defensive coordinator, taking over for Sean McDermott, who left to become the Bills head coach.
STEVE WILKS SNAPSHOT
Pros: Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who was the Panthers general manager for four seasons, is very familiar with Wilks, who was identified by the Fritz Pollard Alliance as one of several minority head coaching candidates. Wilks is a well-respected leader among the Panthers coaching staff and a man who is said to command the attention of the locker room.
He’s also been successful developing young talent. Before being promoted to his current position, he was the Panthers’ defensive backs coach. In 2016, James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, the team’s second and third-round draft choices, respectively, earned the starting jobs as rookies.
The Panthers defense ranked seventh in the NFL in 2017, allowing an average of 317.1 yards a game. Carolina was third against the run, giving up just 88.1 yards-per-game on the ground. The Panthers were third in the league with 50 sacks and ranked 11th in scoring defense, allowing 20.4 points a game.
In 2015, the Panthers defensive secondary led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (39) and turnover differential (plus-20). They also limited opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 73.5 passer rating and were sixth in the NFL in total defense, their fourth consecutive top 10 finish.
Cons: Like former head coach Ben McAdoo, Wilks doesn’t have any head coaching experience at any level. Unlike McAdoo, Wilks did spend time assisting Panthers head coach Ron Rivera with a variety of daily tasks that likely served as on-the-job training for a potential head coaching gig.
Wilks also has spent 10 of his 12 NFL seasons working for one man—Rivera. He was with Rivera in 2006 with the Bears (Rivera was the defensive coordinator and Wilks, the defensive backs coach). They pair them moved to the Chargers where they were together in 2009 and 2010 before reuniting with the Panthers with Wilks joined the staff in 2012.
On Deck: The Giants are reportedly scheduled to meet with former Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville on Wednesday. Studesville will likely be the final candidate interviewed.