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Steve Wilks’ coaching staff with Cardinals was part of problem in 2018

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The Arizona Cardinals had a terrible 2018 season and, as a result, Steve Wilks was fired after only one season. They went 3-13, were easily the worst team in the league and were rarely competitive that season.

That firing after one season has come under scrutiny a bit with former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and its 32 teams, alleging racist hiring practices.

The suit uses Wilks’ firing after one season as an example of a “double standard” that Black head coaches must deal with.

Essentially, Flores believes that Black head coaches are less likely to be given the opportunity to work through problems and failures than their white counterparts.

Wilks had plenty of issues but Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera believes many of the issues were not of his own doing.

Wilks was Rivera’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Carolina Panthers in 2017, so the two have spoken of the problems.

Rivera reveals that Wilks was unable to put together a staff of coaches he wanted and wanted to work with him.

“The hard part for him there, he was the last guy hired,” Rivera said for Sports Illustrated. “So all the guys that were on his coaching list, they were already locked in. He had to hire guys that he really didn’t want to have to hire. He had to keep guys he didn’t want to keep.”

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was believed to have been selected by general manager Steve Keim. Other holdovers were Byron Leftwich, Larry Foote, Steve Heiden and others.

Rivera suggests that players often did not go directly to Wilks with issues, but to the guys from the previous coaching staff.

“In fact, that’s what got him,” said Rivera, “some of those guys that were kept, were the guys that everybody was coming back to and whispering about, ‘This, that and the other thing.’ And that causes a problem.”

Wilks was fired after one season before he could bring in guys who had been on his coaching list.

Was the 2018 season bad enough to warrant firing? Perhaps, and Wilks’ lack of success in his jobs since then seems to justify the changes.

However, it does seem clear that Wilks was dealt a bad hand.

Would things have been different had he been hired earlier on and had he put together a staff he wanted?

It is impossible to know now, but it definitely brings up important questions about how hiring and firing decisions are made.

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8 big questions facing the Cardinals this offseason

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