CHARLOTTE – Defensive end Mario Addison saw it coming, and he wasn’t the only one.
When it became obvious that Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was a hot commodity among teams looking for a new head coach, all signs pointed to defensive line Eric Washington as the logical replacement.
Wilks secured the head coaching gig he coveted, landing the job with the Arizona Cardinals – the last vacancy to be filled during this coaching carousel.
Panthers brass, meanwhile, secured a future with Washington weeks ago, signing him to a contract that triggered a promotion to defensive coordinator if Wilks were to leave.
It was a smart move, and one that was celebrated by Addison and many others.
“He’ll do a great job,” said Addison, who learned of the news as he was heading home from a ski trip in Colorado. “He knows the system that we’ve been running for years. He studies everything. He’s been studying the linebackers, the DBs and us. So he’s prepared. He’s been preparing for a DC job since I’ve known him.”
Members of the Carolina defensive line have sworn by Washington for years. His tenure as D-line coach began in 2011, and the unit has consistently been among the most productive in the NFL.
Addison, fresh of an 11-sack season, is a perfect example of someone who’s benefited from Washington’s tutelage. He went from a player fighting for a roster spot, to a part-time pass-rushing specialist, to one of the most consistently disruptive defensive ends in the NFL.
All that said, Addison admitted it will be tough to share Washington with the rest of the defense.
“That will be kind of hard. We like having the big guy to ourselves,” Addison said with a laugh. “But I have no choice, and I know everyone will be on one accord. I know that for sure.
“Coach Washington does so much. He breaks down film so well for the D-line. We’re always so prepared. I know he can do it on a bigger scale. He can have a greater impact beyond just the D-line.”
View photos of Carolina's new Defensive Coordinator Eric Washington.