Despite the difficult season, the Buffalo Bills have requested to interview Panthers defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott. The LA Rams will also interview defensive backs coach, Steve Wilks.
Interest in Panthers: Carolina DC Sean McDermott will interview for Bills HC job, and asst HC Steve Wilks to interview with Rams, per source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 2, 2017
The interest isn't surprising. McDermott's defense wasn't statically great, finishing #26 in points allowed and #21 in yards per game. He, however, managed to make Carolina's defense relevant without his best player, Luke Kuechly, a failed Kony Ealy, and a bunch of rookie cornerbacks. The fact the secondary improved tremendously throughout the season may actually be the main reason the Rams are interviewing Wilks.
Panthers defense finished the year with second-most sacks (47) and second-most INTs (17).— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) January 2, 2017
Carolina has been fortunate to keep McDermott as long as they have. He's fielded a top ten defense four out of his six years as defensive coordinator, and that was with some run of the mill parts at times. Hopefully, the struggles in Carolina will continue to overshadow the remarkable job he has done while the Panthers defensive coordinator because he currently looks as one of their better coaching assets.
It's hard to see Wilks as the hire in LA, but he will get an interview much because of the work he has done in Carolina. Wilk's secondaries have performed despite not having any thoroughbred horses. In 2013, he got it done with Mike Mitchell, Drayton Florence, and Quintin Mikell. Last season, Wilk's secondary was "instrumental in helping the Panthers advance to Super Bowl 50 and lead the NFL in interceptions (24), total takeaways (39), points off turnovers (148) and turnover differential (+20). Despite losing starting cornerback Charles Tillman and top nickel back Bene Benwikere to injuries, Carolina limited opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 73.5 passer rating and ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense, joining Seattle as one of two teams to field a top 10 defense each of the last four seasons. Seven different defensive backs tallied interceptions for the Panthers." Carolina's secondary gave up the 4th most yards per game this season and the 10th most in touchdowns. Looking at the stat sheet, it wasn't a fun year for Wilks. He did manage, however, to field a secondary that improved week-to-week with two rookie corners and a hodgepodge of injured safeties.
Right now, Carolina is hoping these two guys stay right where they are. That doesn't seem to be the sentiment with most fans when it comes to the offensive coaches.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for the latest Panthers news and opinions from the fan perspective.