5 bonafide leaders the Commanders could add to head coaching shortlist

The Commanders are looking for a leader to take the franchise forward.

Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders could hire Steve Wilks

When Steve Wilks took over as interim head coach of the Carolina Panthers once Matt Rhule was mercifully fired after five games of the 2022 season, things looked bleak. This was a franchise going nowhere fast. Yet somehow, the respected figure galvanized a failing group en route to much-improved fortunes.

Wilks led by example, He reestablished the culture that had completely disintegrated under the previous coach. Players were running through proverbial brick walls and performing way above expectations. The Panthers almost won the NFC South before falling short.

This wasn't enough for Wilks to get the job permanently. David Tepper - the erratic owner who always thinks he's the smartest guy in any room - went with Frank Reich instead. The decision was the latest grave error in judgment - something that led the Panthers to one of their worst-ever seasons and the embarrassment of handing over the No. 1 pick in 2024 to the Chicago Bears.

There was some solace for Wilks, who landed on his feet as San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator. He's got the unit humming despite a rocky game or two. To nobody's surprise, his leadership abilities have gone over extremely well with the players. He's recently interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons job.

The Washington Commanders could give Wilks an extended look with Adam Peters on board. The pair know each other from their time together on the Niners. This wouldn't be the biggest splash imaginable, but he fits the leadership mold the new general manager is seeking beyond all doubt.