The Cleveland Browns have found their next defensive coordinator in former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks.
The Cleveland Browns will hire former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator for Freddie Kitchens staff. according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
The Browns have not yet officially named Kitchens as the team's head coach, but they are quickly filling their staff, as former Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is expected to join the Browns in the same role.
Wilks spent a season as head coach of the Cardinals, compiling a 3-13 record, and was one of the most striking layoffs this offseason.
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Wilks has been training in the NFL for 13 seasons, all on the defensive side of the ball. He began his coaching career in the NFL in 2006 as a coach of defensive backs for the Chicago Bears. He coached defensive backs until 2017, when the Panthers named him defensive coordinator.
In his only season as Carolina's defensive coordinator, the Panthers finished the season in seventh place in the league in total defense, allowing only 317.1 yards per game. They also finished 11th in the league in allowed points, yielding 20.4 points per game.
The Panthers' pass defense ranked 18th in the league in pass defense, allowing 229.1 yards per game. The defense allowed 25 touchdown passes and intercepted 10 passes. Wilks' defense was much better against the race, allowing the third-most rushing yards in the league. The defense allowed only 88.1 rushing yards per game.
Wilks has an aggressive 4-3 defense that he will attack frequently. However, unlike the aggressive defense of Gregg Williams, Wilks has his primary play area on the back-end. Williams usually had its corners playing press coverage.
With Wilks, the Browns have an experienced defensive coach who can handle the workload without much head coach involvement. Kitchens is likely to fulfill his offensive gaming duties, having Wilks handle the defense will help Kitchens manage his time during game preparation.
The Browns also interviewed Vance Joseph for the position of defensive coordinator, but Joseph took the same job with the Arizona Cardinals. It is said that Kitchens was also "very interested" in the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Chuck Pagano, but it is unknown if Pagano was interviewed for the position.