Allen Park — Prior to hiring Matt Patricia, the Detroit Lions wanted to talk to Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. He was set to be one of the team's seven interviews for the job opening, before he pulled out of the process.
Wilks ultimately landed in Arizona, hired to lead the Cardinals. That announcement came two weeks before the Lions were able to formally introduce Patricia, due to the New England Patriots making the Super Bowl.
Why did Wilks withdraw his name for consideration in Detroit? He saw the writing on the wall.
"It was one of those things that you know just from history — the New England connection and whatnot," Wilks said in a conference call with Detroit media on Wednesday. "So, I wasn’t really in the process of just trying to just take an interview. I figured they were going that route and once again, I think they got a great guy in Matt Patricia."
Patricia had a well-documented working relationship with Lions general manager Bob Quinn. The two worked together in New England for more than a decade, prior to Quinn joining the Lions in 2016.
It's turned out to be a rough debut season for both first-year coaches, who will lead their teams into battle against each other this Sunday.
Wilks, who experienced four playoff seasons and a Super Bowl berth during his six years in Carolina, has dealt with the same difficulties Patricia has establishing a culture with their new franchises.
"I think when you look at history and where he came from, where I came from, I think it was proven," Wilks said. "It does take time just to be able to implement your culture, your philosophy and things that you believe in, and then also just personnel.”
The Cardinals snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 20-17 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Lions are coming off a 30-16 loss to the Rams and have now dropped four of five, all by double-digits.