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Steven Bernard Wilks (born August 8, 1969) is an American football coach who is the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL). He previously was the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals for one season and was fired after a 3–13 record. He also spent time as defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers, and as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.

Steve Wilks
Cleveland Browns
Position:Defensive coordinator
Personal information
Born: (1969-08-08) August 8, 1969 (age 50)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Career information
High school:West Charlotte (NC)
College:Appalachian State
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Head coaching record
Regular season:NCAA: 5–6 (.455) NFL: 3–13 (.188)

Wilks is a two-time NFC Champion, winning with the Bears in 2006 and with the Panthers in 2015, losing the Super Bowl to Peyton Manning-led teams on both occasions.

Playing careerEdit

Wilks played defensive back from 1987 to 1991 at Appalachian State.[1]

Wilks played one year in the AFL for the Charlotte Rage as a wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner.[2]

Coaching careerEdit


Wilks served as Head Football Coach at Savannah State College for one season (1999) and compiled a record of 5-6.[3]

Chicago BearsEdit

Wilks was hired by the Chicago Bears as defensive backs coach on February 16, 2006.[1] The Bears announced on December 30, 2008, that they had fired Wilks.[4]

San Diego ChargersEdit

Wilks was not unemployed for long, however. He was hired as defensive backs coach of the San Diego Chargers in 2009 when former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera moved to the same position in San Diego.[5]

Carolina PanthersEdit

When Rivera became head coach of the Panthers, he hired Wilks as secondary coach on January 15, 2012. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 2015.[6] He was Pro Football Focus's second runner up to their Secondary Coach of the Year award.[7]

In the 2015 season, Wilks and the Panthers finished 15-1 and reached Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. The Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos by a score of 24–10, which also turned out to be Peyton Manning's final NFL game.[8]

After Sean McDermott left to become head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Wilks was promoted to defensive coordinator.[9]

After the 2017 season, Wilks was an extremely hot commodity for teams in need of new head coaches. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, teams were impressed by Wilks' interview with the Los Angeles Rams in the previous offseason before they eventually hired Sean McVay. Wilks interviewed with the New York Giants who had hired his former boss in Carolina, ex-Panthers general manager David Gettleman.[10]

Arizona CardinalsEdit

On January 22, 2018, the Arizona Cardinals hired Steve Wilks to be the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, replacing the recently retired Bruce Arians.[11] In the 2018 season opener against the Washington Redskins, Wilks made his head coaching debut in the 24–6 loss.[12] In Week 5, against the San Francisco 49ers, he recorded his first NFL victory as a head coach.[13] He finished coaching the season with an NFL-worst 3–13 record and the worst record for the Cardinals since 2000.[14] On December 31, 2018, the Cardinals fired Wilks.[15]

Cleveland BrownsEdit

On January 14, 2019, Wilks was hired by the Cleveland Browns to be their defensive coordinator under new head coach Freddie Kitchens.[16]

Coaching treeEdit

NFL head coaches under whom Steve Wilks has served:

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Savannah State (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1999)
1999 Savannah State 5–6 3–4
Savannah State: 5–6 3–4
Total: 5–6


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
ARI 2018 3 13 0 .188 4th in NFC West
Total 3 13 0 .188 0 0 .000


  1. ^ a b "Chicago Bears".
  2. ^ "AFL stats".
  3. ^ "Steve Wilks Records by Year". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  4. ^ Biggs, Brad (December 30, 2008). "Bears make coaching move". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2009.
  5. ^ Cox, Seth (January 22, 2018). "Steve Wilks will bring a different, yet more aggressive defensive style to the desert". Revenge of the Birds. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "Steve Wilks: "You Guys Made The Right Decision"". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Super Bowl 50 - Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers - February 7th, 2016". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  9. ^ "Sean McDermott hired as Buffalo Bills' new head coach". Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  10. ^ "Giants interview Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  11. ^ "Steve Wilks Named New Cardinals Head Coach". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cardinals routed 24–6 by Redskins in Wilks' debut". AP News. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "There's One: Cardinals Get Just Enough In Win Over 49ers". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  14. ^ "Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals Team Encyclopedia". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  15. ^ "Steve Wilks fired by Cardinals after one year with team". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  16. ^ "Browns add Todd Monken and Steve Wilks as coordinators". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "Bears Coaching Confidential: Steve Wilks". NBC Sports Chicago. January 3, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  18. ^ Stapleton, Art. "5 things about Steve Wilks' Giants head coaching candidacy". North Jersey. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "Panthers Ron Rivera: Steve Wilks is a 'hot commodity' for NFL head coaching position". charlotteobserver. Retrieved December 31, 2018.