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Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks reportedly turned down Lions interview request

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This explains why Wilks was never brought in.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The writing is on the wall. Unless something shockingly unexpected happens, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will become the Detroit Lions’ next head coach.

But that still leaves some questions unanswered. Specifically, what happened with Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks?

When the Lions first began their coaching search, a mere two weeks ago, Wilks was reportedly one of seven candidates. The Lions wasted no time in interviewing six of those candidates in their very first week. Detroit had to wait on Wilks, as he was the sole candidate preparing for a Wild Card game that weekend.

But after the Panthers lost, it was an all-out blitz to schedule an interview with Wilks, who was considered one of the best candidates on the market. The New York Giants were first in, meeting with him on Tuesday, and the Cardinals were soon to follow. Reports were that the Lions were next in line to meet with the defensive mind, but that interview never came.

Why? Because according to the Detroit Free Press, Wilks turned down the Lions’ request:

... one candidate who they hoped to sit down with last week – Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks – passed on the chance to interview because of Patricia’s place as the obvious front runner.

It’s an understandable decision for Wilks to make. Patricia has been the leading candidate from the get-go, and it honestly doesn’t look like the Lions ever gave it much of a second thought. It’s not uncommon for general managers to schedule extra interviews with other coaching candidates simply to pick their brain.

Seeing as the Lions likely already have their guy, but can’t hire him yet, they’ve got some free time to kill. Why not sit down with some of the best minds in the NFL, even if you have no intention of hiring them?

But from Wilks’ point of view, he had clearly heard that the Lions had already made up their mind (or were close to doing so). That left him with no real motive to sit down with general manager Bob Quinn.

Of course, none of that matters now, as the Lions are expected to hire Patricia the moment he becomes available. Detroit could take a second opportunity to interview him if the Patriots make the Super Bowl, as league rules permit teams to meet with such candidates in the extra week prior to the big game (starting 1/22). But they still can’t hire him until he’s officially out of the playoffs.