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Steve Wilks off to strong start as defensive coordinator

Posted Sep 12, 2017

First-year defensive coordinator proud of dominant performance against 49ers, but insists unit isn't yet where it needs to be.

CHARLOTTE – Steve Wilks had a lot to be proud of following his first regular season game as defensive coordinator.

The Panthers defense limited to San Francisco to just three points – a record low for an opener in franchise history – and just 51 total rushing yards en route to a comfortable 23-3 victory.

“The No. 1 thing we talk about is stopping the run,” Wilks said. “We knew going into this game and going against (Kyle) Shanahan, the tackles were going to be very important. KK, Star, and Kyle Love played outstanding. The defensive ends did an outstanding job setting the edge.

“And we had constant pressure on the quarterback.”

Carolina finished with four sacks and eight total quarterback hits. Brian Hoyer was under duress from start to finish.

“This is a timing and rhythm offense,” Wilks explained. “We tried to throw that timing off.”

There were a lot of individual standouts on the defensive side of the ball, but Wilks started off by praising the work of linebacker Thomas Davis, who led the team with seven solo tackles and recorded a sack on fourth down by overpowering running back Carlos Hyde to get to the quarterback.

“You look at Thomas,” Wilks said, “he’s 34 and he’s flying around like he’s 20-something.”

The entire defense was flying around during a thoroughly dominant performance Sunday, but echoing the sentiments of many in the Carolina locker room, Wilks reiterated that it’s just one game.

“We’re still working to try to get to where we need to be. But I am very pleased with the guys. I wouldn’t say right now we’re there. We had a great game. As we all know, this is a week-to-week business,” Wilks said.

“I am not going to sit here and jump the gun and say this is going to be the best defense in the National Football League. But I tell you what – we have a chance to do that.”