Wilks joined the Browns last offseason after a one-year stint as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
For next season, it’s all going to depend on who gets hired as the new head coach on whether or not Wilks will stay with the team.
Wilks’s unit didn’t have the best year compared to the rest of the league.
They had the 3rd-worst rushing defense at 144.7 yards per game.
The passing defense was a lot better, boasting the 7th-best defensive unit against the pass at just 216.9 yards allowed per game.
And in the main category of points allowed per game, the Browns were in the bottom half of the league at 20th, allowing 24.6 points per contest.
#Browns team grades and ranks:
Overall – 80.1 (23rd)
Offense – 76.8 (13th)
Defense – 71.3 (27th)
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) January 2, 2019
Every defense can always be made out to look better if they can force turnovers and switch possessions, but the Browns weren’t great at that either, finishing in 20th place with just 20 turnovers on the season.
So clearly it was a pretty underwhelming season on the defensive side of the ball, and the bottom line is the Browns have to be better if they want to crack the playoffs.
Part of the average performance of the defense can be contributed to the countless injuries suffered.
Guys that missed several games due to injury on defense for the Browns include the likes of Christian Kirksey, Olivier Vernon, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and Morgan Burnett.
And when you throw in the fact that one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Myles Garrett missed the final six games due to suspension, it’s evident that the Browns were shorthanded in a lot of contests this season.
But that can’t be an excuse, because nearly every team in the NFL has multiple starters on the injury report at any given point throughout the season.
Through the draft and free agency, the organization needs to pick up as many guys as possible to build depth on that side of the ball for when this many guys inevitably go down next year.
All that said, I think Wilks is the best option for putting a defense in the best position to succeed.
In an earlier article I wrote, I noted how the top candidates the Browns are interviewing are primarily offensive-oriented.
If that’s the way the Browns wind up going, they’re going to need a defensive coordinator who knows what he’s doing and Wilks is just that.
The only way I see Wilks not being kept on is in two situations.
First, if the Browns hire a defensive guy as head coach, such as 49ers DC Robert Saleh, I imagine Saleh would want as much control over the defense as possible and may just bring a guy with him that shares the same defensive concepts as he does.
Second, if the Browns hire a coach who has an old confidant that they’ve had success with in the past, Wilks may be passed over.
It would be similar to how Ron Rivera, new head coach of the Redskins, brought Jack Del Rio with him as his DC.