Every city has a job that won’t let you win. You can be great at it, good at it, better than average at it and new at it. Still, people will campaign to get you fired. In Charlotte, that job is offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. At a news conference at Bank of America Stadium Tuesday, Panthers coach Ron Rivera is asked if he will bring his coaches back next season. “Absolutely,” Rivera says. “I anticipate all my coaches being back.” Even in the building’s bunker, surrounded by concrete and team carpet, you could hear the collective groan from Charlotte and its suburbs. I think one came from Apex. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula will be asked to return. Shula’s offense did not tear it up this season. It ranked 11th in the NFL in rushing, 26th in total yards and 29th in passing. The Panthers were 18th in scoring; the 14 teams they outscored failed to make the playoffs. Last season Shula coached Carolina’s quarterbacks. When his predecessor, Rob Chudzinski, left to coach Cleveland (for a season) Shula was promoted. Chudzinski was more innovative. There was a carnival quality to his calls, and the offense was entertaining even when it failed. Shula didn’t trash Chudzinski’s system. He altered it. He made it more conventional. Did it work? Only three teams turned the ball over less than Carolina. The Panthers were fifth in time of possession. While they were driving, their defense was resting. They were fourth in third-down conversions and third in fourth-down conversations. Also, the improvement of Cam Newton is a testament to Shula. In Newton’s first two seasons he had a total of two game-winning drives. He’s had four since November.
Even at 12-5, Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula can’t win
Charlotte Observer | Jan 15