Rams interview Panthers assistant as search for head coach takes shape

A sparse crowd watches the final minutes of the Rams' 44-6 loss to the Cardinals at the Coliseum on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams on Tuesday began a wave interviews to find their next head coach, meeting with Carolina Panthers assistant head coach Steve Wilks.

Wilks, 47, coaches the secondary and has been a member of Carolina’s staff since 2012. He also has coached in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears.

There is no set timetable for when the Rams will hire a new coach, but based on current positions held by some of the candidates it probably won’t happen in the next week.


Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ vice president of football operations, has said a wave of NFL coaching hires usually occurs Jan. 10-12.

“And then the dominoes start to fall,” Demoff said during a news conference after Jeff Fisher was fired last month. “You’d love to be in the January 10-12 group, so that you can start to build a staff.

“But, there are going to be other considerations. You may find a candidate whose headed to the Super Bowl, and you may need to wait until later in the year.”

The Rams are looking at several candidates who are assistants with teams that have first-round playoff byes, so the soonest they could conduct an initial interview is probably late this week or the weekend. Those coaches would not be available again until after their teams play games Jan. 14.

The Rams have attempted to set up meetings with New England’s Josh McDaniels, Atlanta’s Kyle Shanahan, Washington’s Sean McVay, Arizona’s Harold Goodwin, Buffalo interim Coach Anthony Lynn and Jacksonville interim Coach Doug Marrone. They also have requested permission to interview New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

The Patriots and Falcons have first-round byes.

Rams special-teams coordinator John Fassel, who served as interim coach for three games, met with Demoff on Monday night.

Comeback trail

In 2015, defensive end Robert Quinn’s season ended prematurely because of a back injury.

He recovered from surgery and played well early in the 2016 season, but suffered several injuries and was put on injured reserve for the last three games because of a concussion. He played in nine games and finished with four sacks.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection is optimistic that 2017 will be better.

“Last offseason I was coming off a back surgery, so I was kind I missed a lot,” he said. “So I’m trying to look at it … I’ve got a longer healthier offseason. Without coming off a surgery I can get back to working out earlier and stuff like that.

“I’m trying to look at the positive out of the whole situation. The past two years have been frustrating but they’re in the past. Let’s see what we can do with this future.”

Quinn made big plays during a three-game winning streak early in the season – “I felt like I was getting there, you know, getting back into the groove of things,” he said — before he suffered a shoulder injury. He returned but was hospitalized for a day later in the season for what he described as dehydration.

Guarded optimism

He was benched for two games this season and struggled again with penalties.

Despite the problems, Greg Robinson said he improved this season technically and mentally.

“I was progressing and there was a lot of things that could have distracted me, but I just felt like I just stayed the course and tried my best to get better,” he said.

Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, started one game at guard as a rookie.

In the latter part of this season, Fassel said there was come consideration about moving Robinson to guard. But Robinson remained at tackle.

“I’m so used to playing tackle — it would be hard to adjust,” he said. “But if I have to adjust, that would be something that I would do.”

Quick hits

The Rams signed defensive backs Jerome Couplin, Kevin Peterson and Kevin Short, linebackers Cassanova McKinzy and Reggie Northrup, receiver Brandon Shippen, running back Brandon Wegher and tight end Bryce Williams to reserve future contracts. ... Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner and receiver Isaac Bruce are among 15 finalists for the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.