CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Despite last week's loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs that eliminated the Carolina Panthers from playoff contention, players are still very supportive of head coach Steve Wilks.
"If you ask any man in this locker room," defensive tackle Derrick Brown said, "we want Steve Wilks to be our next head coach."
Wilks is 5-6 since taking the reigns for the fired Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start, and nearly guided Carolina to its first postseason berth since the 2017 season.
If the Panthers beat the Saints on Sunday, that would give Wilks a sixth win in 12 games.
Rhule did not win more than five games in each of his first two full seasons as head coach.
"When Coach Wilks took over, we had a reason for everyone to shut it down," guard Austin Corbett said. "Coach Wilks did a great job of keeping us all together."
Wilks, a Charlotte native who starred at West Charlotte High School, is adamant his future with the organization is not on his mind this week.
"I'm not really concerned about that," Wilks said. "My focus is just trying to win this week. As I stated Day 1, we have 13 weeks and within that process we'll figure out exactly what's going to happen at the end."
Wilks, 53, joined Rhule's staff ahead of the 2022 season and prior to that had served in Carolina under Ron Rivera.
He was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for one season, going 3-13 in 2018.
Although Wilks is a minority interim head coach, the NFL's Rooney Rule would still apply, meaning the Panthers still need to conduct in-person interviews with two external minority candidates.
If those candidates are employed by other teams, interviews cannot be conducted until the conclusion of the Wild Card round of the playoffs.