*With the Rams' search for a new head coach underway, we will be posting plenty of content at therams.com to keep you updated. Here is the first of our coach profiles, which we'll post periodically until L.A. has found its new coach.
The Rams have begun the search for their next head coach, reportedly interviewing Panthers assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Steve Wilks for the position on Tuesday. Here are three nuggets to help you get to know one of Los Angeles' candidates.
1) Has helped lead the Panthers' defense since 2012
Wilks is a longtime defensive backs coach, having held the position with Carolina since head coach Ron Rivera's second season in 2012. In that time, Wilks has built a unit that finished in the top 10 in pass defense twice, including last year's Super Bowl run.
Additionally, Wilks' units have done well in garnering takeaways. In 2015, the Panthers finished No. 1 in interception rate, picking off a league-high 24 passes. Despite injuries — and losing top cornerback Josh Norman after his franchise tag was rescinded — the Panthers still finished within the top 10 in interception rate in 2016.
Back in 2013, Carolina also finished No. 6 in pass defense and No. 5 in interception rate.
2) Well regarded by Rivera
With the exception of two years, Wilks has coached alongside Rivera since 2006, when both worked for the Bears. From there, Wilks followed Rivera to San Diego in 2008 to be the Chargers' defensive backs coach with Rivera as the club's defensive coordinator. And one year after Rivera took the Panthers job, Wilks joined him in Carolina to coach DBs.
Rivera spoke highly of Wilks in a 2014 Charlotte Observer profile of the defensive backs coach.
"I really do believe he'll be a head coach in this league, without a doubt in my mind. It's just a matter of time before he becomes a coordinator, and he's going to be a damn good one," Rivera told the Observer. "He's very detailed, very thorough. In all honesty, I almost hate doing this interview because I don't want people to know about him, selfishly. But also, professionally, I want my friend to get an opportunity."
With Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott receiving a number of interviews for head coaching vacancies in the last few coaching cycles, Wilks has reportedly been one of the internal candidates that could have taken over at defensive coordinator — showing how much Rivera trusts him.
3) Extensive experience in both college, professional level
Wilks spent 1995-2005 in the college ranks before breaking through with Chicago. In that time, he did spend a year as the head coach at Savannah State, compiling a 5-6 record.
In all, Wilks coached at Johnson C. Smith University, Savannah State, Illinois State, Appalachian State, East Tennessee State, Bowling Green, Notre Dame, and Washington at the college level.
Wilks was a defensive back himself for Appalachian State, playing from 1987 to 1991.