HEAD COACHING SEARCH UPDATE: Carolina DC Steve Wilks Reportedly Set to Interview Tuesday

A look at key interview questions New York Giants head coaching candidate Steve Wilks will likely be asked.

The New York Giants official head coaching search is expected to continue this coming week, and their first scheduled interview of the week will reportedly be a significant one.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that “win or lose” Carolina defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Steve Wilks is likely to interview with the Giants Monday. Wilks has ties with current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who of course was the Panthers general manager until July of last year.

Update: Wilks is scheduled to interview with the Giants Tuesday per Josina Anderson of ESPN.

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.

KEY QUESTIONS FOR STEVE WILKS
What’s the plan to develop a young quarterback?
This is perhaps the first question hat should be asked of the defensive-minded Wilks.

With the Giants in a position to potentially draft a franchise quarterback at No. 2  and with second-year man Davis Webb still on the roster as a potential heir to long-time starter Eli Manning, the answer to this question could very well be a make-or-break proposition.

Wilks’ suggestions for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will likely go a long way toward answering this question.

How do he plan to help the young talent that went astray this season?
The Giants had some disciplinary issues on the defensive side of the ball, most notably second-year cornerback Eli Apple, who in addition to a suspension, was benched and fined this season for various infractions.

Apple has far too much talent to kick to the curb, but it’s clear that the previous Giants leadership either struggled to help him deal with his personal issues or chose to not do so. If Wilks is hired what kind of plan would he have in in place to help Apple not only get back on track talent wise, but also to repair the locker room.

The same can probably be said of left tackle Ereck Flowers, who denied a NFL report claiming there was”serious concern” about his attitude leading up to that game.  Both Flowers and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo claimed that Flowers was inactive due to a groin injury, but remember, this was a guy who as a rookie played through a high ankle sprain that some believe was far worse.

What’s his plan for helping Odell Beckham Jr. mature?
Forget any talk about trading Beckham, a wildly talented receiver. However, the histrionics that have punctuated Beckham’s short tenure with this team such as the dog peeing incident which drew Mara’s involvement, have to stop because they are creating distractions for a team that’s otherwise trying to be all about football.

How would he fix the defense?
The Giants 2017 defense had most of the same personnel from the year prior when it finished as a top-10 unit overall, and a top-5 unit against the run and in fewest points allowed.

The unit was supposed to be better this year given its experience, but instead, the sacks never came, the Giants finishing tied for 29th in this category with 27.0 (down from the 35.0 posted in 2016) and the interceptions dropping from 17 to 13.

If rushing the passer and stopping the run are staples to a winning franchise, Wilks better have some ideas on how to get the Giants defense back to the level it played at in those categories in 2016.

Although the 48-year-old Wilks doesn’t have any prior head coaching experience at the NFL level—he did serve as the head coach for Savannah State back in 1999–he is believed to be a strong candidate for the Giants opening.  Wilks was one of several minority head coaching candidates recommended to the NFL by the Fritz  Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that collaborated with the league on its hiring practices.

One of Wilks’ strengths, according to his Panthers team bio, is developing young talent. In 2016, Panthers second-round draft choice James Bradberry and third-round draft choice Daryl Worley became the team’s starting cornerbacks. Bradberry’s 11 passes defensed made him the first rookie to lead the Panthers in passes defensed since 2012, while Worley finished second on the team with 10 passes defensed.

Wilks, a native of Charlotte, has a solid reputation as being able to command and hold attention in a NFL locker room, which is one of the criteria Giants team co-owner John Mara has expressed an interest in having in the team’s next head coach.

In addition to Wilks, former Broncos and one-time Giants running backs coach Eric Studesville, whose interview with the team was postponed last Thursday due to Winter Storm Grayson slamming into the area, is due to have his interview Wednesday.

 

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