The Cardinals may not have a QB or even an OC right now, but what they do have in newly appointed HC Steve Wilks is the kind of leader and communicator who can make the Cardinals stand out as a flock of tough, tenacious, high flying birds.
Charley Casserly of NFLN put the hiring of Steve Wilks in the perfect perspective. Casserly alluded to the Rooney’s philosophy for hiring head coaches: insert a strong leader and communicator at the top. It doesn’t matter which side of the ball the coach specializes in. Find a head coach who can galvanize and motivate a team of 53 men.
Casserly also made an excellent point that while some pundits and fans question how prepared Wilks is to be a head coach if he’s only been a coordinator for 1 year, he said “Wilks would have been a coordinator for years now had the Panthers and the Chargers not blocked other teams from hiring him.”
Wilks was the assistant head coach at Carolina for the past six years. Whenever Ron Rivera had to miss some practices for personal reasons, he wanted Wilks to run the team. As an assistant head coach Wilks has the best possible training to become a head coach. In Carolina, in that role, he stood out. Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim said that unsolicited endorsements from Wilks’ players, past and present, came pouring in. And the common theme was that Wilks not only helped them grow into standouts as players, he invested in them as human beings and he treated them like men.
One of the most resounding things Wilks said at his press conference was that he wants all of his coaches to adopt his three pillars of trust, commitment and accountability---and---in that regard---he wants all of his coaches to teach fundamentals, demand fundamentals and---get this---”find ways to relate to different personalities.”
After all, Wilks said, “it is the coaches’ top priority to develop the players.”
Not sure if this was an answer to questions posed during his interviews by Bidwill and Keim---one can just imagine that MB&SK have been concerned about the development of the young players on the roster---or whether Wilks had the perspicacity and foresight in doing his research on the Cardinals to recognize that player development is one of the team’s main improvement areas---either way, Wilks manifested a core understanding of the kind of coaching it is going to take to maximize the talent on the roster.
Wilks was straightfoward in acknowledging what he called “the elephant in the room” (aka the QB situation). He said that this was discussed at length with MB&SK and that there is an “aggressive plan” in place (via free agency, trade and the draft) so that the Cardinals can “put a product on the field that can compete for a championship.”
On Arizona Sports radio an hour later when asked what the greatest moment of his football coaching career is, Wilks didn’t even have to think about it. He said.”Today is the greatest moment of my career.” He said, “I have always dreamed of being a head coach in the NFL.” Furthermore, when asked about the time he first sensed that he was destined to coach, Wilks replied that he has always had a feeling that “it’s hard to blend in when you are born to stand out.”
Perfectly said from a newborn cardinal...donning brilliant red feathers, eye blacks and yellow beak... cardinals do find it hard and even impossible to blend in, because they are born to stand out, especially in the desert.
Welcome to Arizona---the nest of the Birdgang, Steve Wilks and family!