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3 Takeaways From New Panthers’ Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks

Shortly after the Panthers officially promoted Steve Wilks to defensive coordinator, he met with reporters at Bank of America Stadium.

Here are the biggest things you need to know about latest "change" in Carolina's coaching staff.

 

1.) "Nothing's Going to Change"

 

Not surprisingly, continuity was the theme of Wilks' informal press conference. Sean McDermott is now in Buffalo, but the 4-3 defense in Charlotte won't look much different from the past six seasons.

"The biggest thing that I have been doing the last couple of days is really getting the continuity of the staff together and really letting those guys understand that nothing’s going to change," Wilks said. "I don’t anticipate us missing a beat. The things we have done in the past we are going to continue to emphasize.

"As I sat around and talked to all the defensive coaches earlier, I was telling those guys that this wasn’t Sean’s defense. This was our defense, and we all had a hand in it."

So did Ron Rivera, who's had Wilks on his staff in Chicago, San Diego and now for five-plus years in Carolina.

"The things that we’ve done at Chicago and the things that we did in San Diego, we pretty much put a mix of everything together, with what Sean did at Philly and the things we’ve done in the past," Wilks said. "So again, this is our defense. We’re not going to change anything from the standpoint of scheme-wise."

2.) OK, One Change is Coming

 

With Wilks climbing a rung on the ladder, that opens up a vacancy in the secondary.

If the Panthers really want to stick with the continuity theme, they could promote assistant defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller, who came to Carolina in 2013. But according to a source, Perry Fewell, who's coached in the NFL since 1998, including one year as Rivera's defensive backs coach in Chicago, is a strong candidate to fill Wilks' role.

"The same qualities that I have," Wilks said when asked what he'll look for in a replacement. "A guy that’s an outstanding teacher, a great communicator, understands the fundamentals and the techniques of the game but understands how to manage people.

"What we fail to realize in this business, it’s no different from corporate America; it’s about dealing with personalities. That’s the biggest thing, particularly, sometimes in that room."

 

3.) It's a Neat Story

 

Wilks grew up in Charlotte and went to West Charlotte High School before playing defensive back at Appalachian State.

He broke into coaching in 1995 as Johnson C. Smith's defensive coordinator. But that title sure isn't like the one he now has 22 years later.

"I can recall back when I was young working at Johnson C. Smith over there cutting the grass, washing the clothes and dreaming of this opportunity of one day having the chance to coach here with the Carolina Panthers,' Wilks said.

"It’s sometimes surreal, but I am very fortunate and very blessed and I am working with a great organization."

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