The Arizona Cardinals had a terrible 2018 season and, as a result, Steve Wilks was fired after just one season. They went 3-13, were easily the league’s worst team, and were rarely competitive that season.
That one-season firing has come under scrutiny with former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and its 32 teams alleging racist hiring practices.
The suit uses Wilks’ shot after one season as an example of a “double standard” that black head coaches have to deal with.
Essentially, Flores thinks black head coaches are less likely to have the ability to solve problems and setbacks than their white counterparts.
Wilks has had a lot of problems, but Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera thinks many of those problems aren’t his fault.
Wilks was Rivera’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Carolina Panthers in 2017, so the two have spoken about the issues.
Rivera reveals that Wilks was unable to build a coaching staff that he wanted and wanted to work with him.
“The hardest thing for him there is that he was the last to be hired”, Rivera said for Sports Illustrated. “So all the guys who were on his coaching list were already locked up. He had to hire guys he really didn’t want to hire. He had to keep guys he didn’t want to keep.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was reportedly selected by general manager Steve Keim. The other survivors were Byron Leftwich, Larry Foote, Steve Heiden and others.
Rivera suggests players often didn’t go directly to Wilks with issues, but to guys from the former coaching staff.
“Actually, that’s what did,” Rivera said, “some of those guys that were kept, were the guys that everyone was coming back to and whispering, ‘This, that, and the other thing. And that poses a problem. »
Wilks was fired after a season before he could bring in guys who were on his coaching roster.
Was the 2018 season bad enough to warrant a dismissal? Perhaps, and Wilks’ lack of success in his jobs since then seems to justify the changes.
However, it seems clear that Wilks was dealt a bad hand.
Would things have been different if he had been hired earlier and built the staff he wanted?
It’s impossible to know now, but it certainly raises important questions about how hiring and firing decisions are made.
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