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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Assistant Update

Following the quick hires of good-fit coordinators Sean McDermott (DC), Rob Chudzinski (OC), and Brian Murphy (ST), the team quickly moved to make a few other things happen. Most of this isn't breaking, since I'm just partially functional on a real keyboard again (fingers crossed - I'm on my laptop but running Linux), so most of this includes more commentary than anything.

So before the commentary, to update, John Matsko (Baltimore) is the OL coach, and former Alabama head coach Mike Shula is the QBs coach.


*McDermott - There's room for skepticism, since he was just fired. It would look like his elevation in Philly was all hype, that he wasn't ready. Still, his defenses finished 12th both years he coordinated them, and they were great in turnovers. He fits - he worked with Rivera, and knows the complicated defense we're about to run. If he has major flaws, Rivera and the guy listed next will fix it.

*Ron Meeks (DB) - This is an exceptionally smart hire, and I hope that fans realize this. 2010 wasn't his fault, and for all the defending I did of Mike Trgovac, Meeks' units were a step up from what Trgovac did post-2005 (give him credit for rebuilding in 07, but 08 was a collapse on par with Jake Delhomme). Meeks' units were smart, went after the football, and played hard.

He will make an exceptional DBs coach for us, given that he was responsible for fixing what's become a strong backend of that defense.

*Not getting Mike Singletary - Darin Gantt suggests this was all late speculation anyway, but getting Singletary would've been nice. He knows the game. He'd give us our Sam type presence anyway. But, since we didn't get him? We could've dodged a huge bullet. Mike's already talking to MN press about his next head coaching job, and it's well documented that he's crazy.

Similar thoughts on Dave Wannstedt. Would've been nice to get him as LBs coach and assistant head coach, but there's no requirement. We want young teachers, and he doesn't fit that. Rivera is looking away from cronyism - which runs rampant in the NFL. He could've tried to hire Ron Turner as OC, and Wannstedt as DC, but we've lucked into someone who administratively does less of this than John Fox.

*Sam Mills III - congrats on the promotion. Assistant DL coach is a bit odd, but makes sense (DL and DB generally carry more in both active roster players and preseason players), and gets him on the field a bit more than the previous tape jockey job (a role he'll still play). This is the best form of nepotism, and we wouldn't give him more responsibility if he weren't up to it. I do hope it means we will still hire a 2nd DBs coach/defensive quality control type coach, regardless of Meeks' acumen.


*Rob Chudzinski - Not coincidental that Rivera mentioned TE as a focus on offense. It's a spot where we could actually get younger, or add a free agent, on O without stepping on what Marty Hurney's tried to bring in. And then we hire a TEs coach as coordinator.

Of course, he's only a TEs coach by previous trade - Chud is a realistic option, and a damn fine one. He was the right hand man of Norv Turner's in SD, so he got to gameplan a bit and help with playcalling, a nice step back but good maintenance for a guy who had been a coordinator in the previous job. He was able to see Clarence Shelmon administrate the O, as well, without having to handle it himself. Most importantly, he was a critical piece of the #1 Offense, to go with the DC from the #1 Defense (Rivera), all from one team (and as luck would have it, it worked out - it would never work that way 99% of the time).

*Mike Shula - QBs coach was designated a critical hire before the Panthers finished their head coach process. Is Shula the technique-laden problem solver? Maybe not. I don't know his record of molding young talent - his recent pupils were Jay Fiedler and David Garrard. I do know that he's got his (failed) experience as OC and head coach. He's going to be great at teaching the rest of the game, and helping Chudzinski with the O. Other options were quickly dissolved, but Carolina lucked into finding Shula without a contract (with our regards, overzealous Alabama front office, for giving him the security to not need a long term contract with anyone else - since he has yours still).

*John Matsko - He's a good fit on the OL, and the Panthers snapped him up quickly once he came available. The Ravens' OL wasn't without its problems, but looks like Matsko is fired to save Cam Cameron. Matsko's the veteran of the group so far, and aside from Meeks the only one over 45 to be onboard.

ST - Brian Murphy's already done his time as an assistant ST coach. He's broken in, had his success, but he's still young. Solid hire. Were it me, I'd have been more in tune with former Panther and Patriot Brad Seely, personally.


*CBA - it's no surprise that the labor agreement is a critical part of the thought process of owner Jerry Richardson. It's possible the Panthers, as one of the few teams starting over, will pay a price more heavily than other teams if there's a holdout/lockout until closer to August. Teams won't practice, so no one can install their plays and schemes - deadly important for new teams like Carolina's.

But consider this - Rivera's hiring of coordinators who are highly esteemed, yet run the exact schemes he likes and knows extensively? It's as important and critical as any other choice we could've made.
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