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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Don't Forget Shula

Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski is undoubtedly one of the promising young coaches of the year, after taking the bottom-feeding 2010 offense into the upper echelon of the NFL in 2011. While Carolina finished 7th*, its lowest ranking of the year, it was still a masterful performance that also saw the rushing attack finish 3rd, and 1st in yards per attempt.

Chudzinski showed a mastery of running the offense, and tailored the Coryell attack to Cam Newton's strengths. He integrated the option attack into a pro offense and made it legitimately work. He took a young QB who had no business getting 400 yards per game in his first two weeks, and put him in as the centerpiece of a resurgent attack.

But that's where he needs to start sharing the credit. Chudzinski, a guy with plenty of experience as a TEs coach and offensive coordinator, has never coached quarterbacks. Mike Shula, of course, has. Shula was the one spending time with mostly Newton, while Chudzinski put the offense together. Shula, undoubtedly, gave input on what Cam can and can't do.

And, as a guy who attempted, and almost succeeded, in getting Tim Tebow to Alabama, he likely had as much say in the option packages as anything. Chudzinski, of course, ran a sophisticated pro style attack with the University of Miami, not unlike what we've seen here excluding the option runs.

Certainly, Shula isn't Chudzinski, but he deserves his part of the coaching credit. When Jerry Richardson and Marty Hurney mentioned offensive coaches (to go with their intended defensive hire), they did mention QBs coach. There's no doubt they spent to get Shula, and they knew he was going to be a big part of it all. We don't get this far without him, as well.

*a few things worked against Carolina at the end - taking the throttle off the Bucs, and folding completely against New Orleans. 11 yards per game separated Carolina and third place Green Bay.
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