Sporting News: Cardinals’ Wilks ranks among bottom half of NFL coaches

Jun 24, 2018, 6:30 AM
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

The Arizona Cardinals made headlines following the 2017 season when former head coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement.

General manager Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill addressed the concerns in January, however, hiring former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Becoming a first-time head coach in the NFL, Sporting News’s Bill Bender ranked Wilks among the bottom-half of coaches in the league at No. 27.

But, Bender does expect Wilks to rise in the rankings as the season progresses.

This is overdue. Wilks started at Johnson C. Smith in Division II in 1995 and had worked as an NFL assistant since 2005. He thrived under Ron Rivera as a defensive coordinator in Carolina, so expect the 48-year-old to take advantage of this opportunity

Wilks retained six assistants from Arians’ staff, adding five others.

Former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was hired for the same position under Wilks, while Al Holcomb was hired as the defensive coordinator.

Previously, Holcomb worked under Wilks as the linebackers coach in Carolina.

Along with a slew of new coaches, Wilks and the rest of the Cardinals’ staff added playmakers both through the NFL Draft and free agency so far this offseason.

Arguably the two biggest additions came on the offensive line and behind center, with former Giants guard Justin Pugh and former Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford signing with the Cardinals.

Bradford is expected to be used as a bridge for future-franchise quarterback Josh Rosen, who the Cardinals drafted tenth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Other weapons such as veterans Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, as well as rookie Christian Kirk are expected to improve the Cardinals offense that was riddled with injuries last season.

Meanwhile, a defense that was one of the best in the league last year returns multiple starters, including defensive end Chandler Jones and cornerback Patrick Peterson.

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