While Jeff Saturday's hiring in Indianapolis has garnered significantly more buzz, Steve Wilks' performance as the ' interim head coach is starting to generate more attention over the past several weeks. Carolina improved to 4-4 under Wilks following Sunday's upset win in Seattle. The win moved the Panthers to 5-8 after a 2-7 start Carlos Zambrano Jersey to the season.Remarkably, the Panthers with a month to go in the regular season. They will capture the NFC South division title if they take care of busine s the next two weeks -- at home against Pittsburgh and Detroit -- while winning their final two games on the road against Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Of course, the Panthers may not need to win out to make the playoffs, but a 4-0 finish would guarantee them their first playoff berth since 2017.It's not the easiest schedule, but the Panthers' remaining games aren't terribly daunting. Up first is a 5-8 team that is one lo s away from being eliminated from playoff contention. Along with having questions at quarterback following head injury during Sunday's lo s to Baltimore, the Steelers' defense is coming off a dreadful performance after allowing the to run for over 200 yards.Like Carolina, the are coming on strong after a slow start. Detroit is 6-7 following Sunday's upset win over Minnesota. The Lions' highly efficient offense (currently first in the NFL in red Willson Contreras Jersey zone offense and ninth in 3rd-down efficiency) is one of the reasons why Dan Campbell's team is vying for its first winning season in a half-decade. While they still have , the are a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago. Poor offensive line play has dogged Tampa Bay for most of the year. The are in even worse shape having dropped Justin Steele Jersey four of their last five games.The fact the Panthers are even in this situation is a testament to Wilks, a longtime defensive a sistant who served as the ' head coach for the 2018 season. Wilks' transparency, said Panthers quarterback after Sunday's win, has been one of his biggest strengths since becoming interim coach. So how has Carolina been able to find its identity under Wilks?"I think with him being able to be honest with us and tell us exactly how we're going to play the game and what we want to do and not shy away from that," . "He said early on, even when we were losing some games, it was, 'hey, trust the proce s and trust the game plan.' If we go into a game knowing we want to run the football and early we get down a score or two, we just got to trust Justin Grimm Jersey it and know that that game plan is going to come to fruition. So I think Coach Wilks has been doing a really good job me saging that to the team." How the Panthers are winning may also be a foreshadowing for future succe s. While Pete Carroll's teams have been known for battering opponents with their running game, it was the Panthers who imposed their will on the ground during the end of Sunday's 30-24 win. They finished the game with a whopping 223 rushing yards, with and combining to gain 148 yards on 35 carries. The succe s on the ground allowed the Panthers to control the ball for over 39 minutes."I think just really the mentality of really finishing up front and running the football," Wilks said regarding the statement his team made in their Week 14 win. "I think in the fourth quarter, as a defensive coach -- again, nothing more demoralizing than having a ball run on you in the fourth quarter and not being able to stop it. Our offensive line, again, running backs, those guys did a tremendous job."Carolina's running game was complemented by a defense that forced two turnovers while holding the to under 300 total yards Mike Montgomery Jersey . , Shaq Thompson and have each enjoyed stellar seasons while helping promote Wilks' cause to become the team's permanent head coach. "We ride behind Wilks," following Sunday's win. "He came in here, he's a true alpha, he's a true leader and guys follow behind him."He's done amazing. Look what we've been going through."
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