The Panthers hire of Steve Wilks was a sneaky one. The Chargers in 2010 were the NFL’s #1 pass defense in the NFL and though the Carolina Panthers do not quite have quite the same personnel as the Chargers did, Wilks and Rivera hope to repeat their success. They were a lethal combination and it shouldn’t be much different after a year or two. When asked if he was excited about the opportunity to be with the Panthers, Wilks responded:
“Very excited I tell you what. It’s not only excited about being back home, but to be working with a first class organization. You know is definitely a plus for me. You know the commitment that Mr. Richardson has for this organization, and the direction in which he wants this organization to go is first class. And also having the opportunity to get back with coach Rivera, and the things that we shared at Chicago as well as San Diego. It’s a great opportunity for me. I know what he stands for as a coach, and most importantly as a person. Those are the kind of coaches he’s assembled on his staff. Great coaches and great people. It’s definitely a plus for me, and I’m truly excited about the opportunity.”
Wilks was the San Diego Chargers defensive backs coach for the last three years, but never had a more successful year than when he was paired with Rivera. His Chargers secondary was ranked 11th in the year before Rivera and 9th in the year after Rivera. They are a good pair and hope for continued success in 2012. Rivera is assembling a coaching crew that he hopes to go to the playoffs with his newly minted Pro Bowl quarterback, wide receiver, and center. Wilks will probably be adamant about adding more help on the defensive side, but he also hopes to let last year’s crew improve on their shoddy work in 2011. The days that the Carolina defense blows games that Cam Newton gives them the early lead on. To top it all off, working at Carolina has been a dream of Wilks for a long time.
“You know, I tell you what, being born and raised there. Starting my career at Johnston C. Smith. And believe it or not you always hear this cliche, from a standpoint of I’ve always dreamed of this opportunity. Well I tell you what, I can recall back in ’95 sitting outside the coaches office at Johnston C. Smith and glancing over into the distance and seeing Bank of America Stadium, and looking back at Stephen and saying one day I’m gonna work over there. I pointed to the stadium and said, I’m gonna be working for the Carolina Panthers, and that was a dream of mine and to have this opportunity come to fruition is definitely a blessing for me.”
Wilks hopes to fulfill his dreams, and Ron Rivera’s championship dreams of Ron Rivera.