Steve Wilks took over as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals saying he was humbled by the job but exhibiting an abundance of confidence that he can do it well.
The 48-year-old coach Patrice Bergeron Jersey , promoted after just one season as defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, was introduced at a news conference Tuesday, bringing a reputation of connecting easily with his players as he replaces Bruce Arians, who retired after five colorful seasons and 50 victories in Arizona.
We found a great leader, Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said, and not just a leader with a high football IQ but also a high football `EQ (emotional quotient). He doesnt just coach football players, he coaches people.
Wilks, who gets a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth, described his coaching style as very passionate, persistent and very positive.
Im going to tell you right now, Wilks said, looking at Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim, you guys made the right decision.
In a later interview, Wilks said, Its hard to blend in when youre born to stand tall.
Bidwill said he heard nothing but good things about Wilks from his former players, many of them unsolicited.
I know what he brings to the table. I know what theyre getting, Washington Redskins and ex-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said in a statement provided by the Cardinals. At the end of the day, I came from pretty much nothing to rise up to where Im at today and he was the catalyst behind that. Position coach all the way up to the ranks of a D-coordinator for a year, and then making it now to a head coaching job; its crazy how that trend came for him. The conversations we have are just so enlightening. Hes a leader of men and thats what it all boils down to.
Keim was asked what separated Wilks from the other eight candidates interviewed for the job.
You can become a better coach through experience, Keim said. But to have leadership, to me, theres an innate part of that. And when you get to know Steve Wilks, you can tell that he has that innate leadership skill that very few people have.
There was nary a mention of Arians at the news conference. Instead, the new coach, who gained the nickname Denzel back in Carolina due to his resemblance to a certain actor, provided a vision for the foundation of the franchise, while acknowledging the elephant in the room.
This is not a rebuild, this is a retool, Wilks said. I think we have the pieces in place Rick Nash Jersey , when you look at both sides of the ball. Theres a question mark right now and we all know it, the elephant in the room. We dont have a quarterback.
This in a division that includes Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Keim insisted that lack of a quarterback was not a hindrance in the coaching search.
We looked at it as a positive, Keim said, As Michael and I talked to the candidates, its `You really have a blank canvas. You really have an opportunity to be a part of setting us up for the future at that position.
Asked which was harder, finding a coach or a quarterback, Keim didnt hesitate. A quarterback, he said.
Were going to be aggressive in the process and theres going to be a number of different options, Keim said, whether its free agency, whether its a trade option or whether its the draft, or all three.
While all of Wilks 23-year coaching career (11 college, 12 NFL) are on the defensive side. He will inherit the makings of a strong defense in Arizona, anchored by the likes of NFL sack leader Chandler Jones and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
But the big questions are on offense, and Wilks gave no hint as to who his offensive coordinator will be. He said he wanted his staff in place by the Super Bowl and did not rule out retaining members of the previous one.
He said hed talked with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the phone but doesnt know if the star wide receiver will return for a 15th NFL season.
One of Wilks biggest smiles came when he talked about the return of running back David Johnson, who was lost for the season when he broke a wrist in the opener.
The Cardinals will, the new coach assured, run the ball.
Wilks wife, Marci, two young daughters and an even younger son watched the news conference from the front row then joined him onstage for photos.
PHOENIX Like pitching?
The final game of the St. Louis-Arizona series Wednesday features a couple starters who have had strong seasons but also should be considered under-the-radar All-Star candidates, at least for those who have not been paying close attention.
You could look it up.
Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin and St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas rank in the top 10 among NL qualifiers in ERA, WHIP, WAR and innings pitched. The only statistical difference is in strikeouts, where Corbin is tied for second and Mikolas is down the pack. Mikolas compensates by pitching to contact and getting the majority of his outs on the ground.
They are compatible in one more way each has received below-average run support. Corbin has received the fourth-fewest, 3.65 per start. Mikolas support checks in under the league average.
Arizona used a three-run homer from Paul Goldschmidt to take a 4-2 victory Tuesday as the teams have split the first two games of the series. Arizona will conclude a 10-game homestand with a four-game set with San Diego beginning Thursday, when the Cardinals open a four-game series in San Francisco before finishing a nine-game trip in Chicago against the White Sox.
Mikolas, 29, has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the major leagues this season Riley Nash Jersey , signing with the Cardinals over the winter after three strong seasons for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese Central League. He was 3-13 with a 2.18 ERA in 62 starts in Japan after being released by Texas in November 2014.
Obviously this season hes been fantastic, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. He should be sitting on 10 wins right now. Two of the losses he had, he had us right there. He just matched up with a pitcher we couldnt get much going against. Miles has been very good.
Mikolas has made 11 quality starts, tied for fourth in the league. After starting the season 6-0, he has lost three of his five decisions in June despite posting five quality starts and giving up one earned run in two of his losses.
A guy who just attacks the strike zone, Matheny said.
He has very good stuff. Doesnt make a lot of mistakes. Not afraid to use his defense. He has been just an incredible surprise for us. What a great pickup for our organization and a salute to our scouts who are finding people like Miles who are out there.
He figured something out while he was in Japan. The way he goes about his business, not just how he competes but how he prepares, you could see that being something that sticks around for awhile.
Mikolas and Corbin are tied for second in the league in WHIP (0.99). Mikolas is sixth and Corbin ninth in ERA and innings pitched, and Mikolas is seventh and Corbin ninth in WAR.
Each has one of the five shutouts thrown in the NL this season. Washingtons Max Scherzer, Pittsburghs Jameson Taillon and Atlantas Mike Foltynewicz have the others.
Corbin, 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA, has made two straight quality starts, giving up only one run and in 13 innings, but did not receive a decision in either game. He had extra rest the last time through the rotation after pitching seven scoreless innings while striking out 12 in a no-decision at Pittsburgh, when he threw a season-high 102 pitches. He gave up one run in six innings against San Francisco on Friday, pitching on six days rest.
He (gets) into trouble, doesnt get rattled, and continues to pound the zone and get big outs. Hes done a very good job, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Jeff Mathis, one of two healthy catchers on the Arizona roster with Alex Avila on the disabled list, will catch Corbin for the third straight start.
I like the way Jeff gets Patrick to do certain things at certain times and shows confidence in certain pitches, and helps him execute by showing that confidence, Lovullo said. Jeff has such respect from anyone on this staff that when he asks for something they listen.
Corbin has received 3.65 runs per start, tied for the third fewest in the league. He is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four career starts against St. Louis and is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 10 starts at home this sesaon.
Mikolas, who spent previous major league seasons with San Diego and Texas, has never started against Arizona and has given one run in 4 1/3 innings in two career relief appearances, a Justin Upton homer in 2012. This will be his first appearance at Chase Field.