Assuming for now that the 2013 staff is complete, here's my quick
analysis of the current staff (and then, I'll shut up about it for a
bit, I promise).
2013 leads into a bizarre year for Ron Rivera, a year that shows some
growth and change mid-year, but that also makes me wonder why it
required change. He stated some changes after the Marty Hurney
departure, that suggested he didn't need to treat this team like it's
young since it's not - but that didn't change within Hurney's departure.
So he's less of a player's coach, and potentially able to delegate
more. Will the questionable calls with the game on the line improve?
Rivera would be a lot better than 13-19 if he could simply split the
close games - he'd have two winning seasons.
Starting with the departures, Rob Chudzinski is a tough one to lose.
An innovative young mind under a system that hasn't seen much change in
a decade, some credit him most for the amount of success Carolina has
had in two years. There's also no doubt that he laid a strong
foundation, and that at times the calls were too cute or too pass heavy
(those two complaints are best found in the first Tampa game, in which
the leading rusher was slot WR Kealoha Pilares, for five yards).
There's no doubt it worked overall, but that there were still some
In Scott Turner (offensive assistant), you find someone who could've
moved up to a position coach, and might be a coordinator one day, but at
this point provided a lot more value to Chudzinski than Turner would
have as a remnant. Less valuable you find John Settle, a career college
coach with a bit of a history as a player, and Fred Graves (again with
mostly a college background), who were both quite replaceable. I don't
think either did a bad job, but I don't know that either fit.
Now, for the reorganization -
Mike Shula's history suggests he won't have the pass-heavy problem or
the problem of overthinking things. His Tampa history isn't awe
inspiring, but he's also not dealing with some of the same issues. More
dynamic backs, more talent at WR, and someone else has already set the
tempo. This may require some input from Ron Rivera, to make sure things
don't go too far the other way.
Still, bringing things back toward balance - more running, a little
less complexity for Cam Newton, combining the good things from the
second half of the year that led Newton to only throw 4 INT over the
last 9 games and pairing that with a stouter interior DL to bring up the
run defense, would allow the team a good balance between 2011's
offensive success and 2012's defensive abilities.
At QBs coach, Ken Dorsey makes sense. Shula will remain very involved,
but this did require a real coach, and while Dorsey has minimal
experience, he's a guy who can aid Shula without being out of place in
the coaching room. The team could've gone with more experience (John
Ramsdell, specifically) but Dorsey is a good fit. Similarly, it's hard
not to have some encouragement about Ricky Proehl, who more or less had
to do a couple of years as an assistant to get up to speed, but knows as
much about the position as any guy you'd get. Assistant Lance Taylor is
a good pickup as a quality control coach.
The Jim Skipper hire was bizarre, in that it should've just happened in
2011; however, that said, it's a good hire now and brings much needed
experience to a group Carolina must reap rewards from. He's got
coordinator experience, so he'll be an asset to the ground game.
The team lost Bobby Babich, son of Jags DC Bob Babich, but he wasn't
even listed on the team site. The only real change here is in dropping
Warren Belin, but then hiring somewhat untested Al Holcomb. A hard
worker, he's in a similar situation as Proehl or Dorsey, but didn't have
the playing name. So he's gotten up the ladder with a bit more
scrapping. Honestly, I think this is one of those situations where
Rivera thought he could go get someone experienced in the pro game, but
was held back without a lot of buying power.
Richard Rodgers was well liked by the special teams guys, which is (per
the Observer) not something Brian Murphy could bring to the table.
Adding Bruce Dehaven eliminates some of the sting of not landing Dave
Toub or Bobby April.
Overall, it's a little young, but hopefully steady.
Shula could've used more experience under him, though I like the young
guys he pulled. Word is that Hue Jackson wasn't prepared like Shula
was, and that Pat Shurmur wasn't what they wanted at all - it may have
been that he was simply a guy to bring in and hope he would take a QBs
coach role. The young guys as a whole do bring a bit of pause - it's a
lot of youth - but individually I like what each brings (with a bit of
faith on the Holcomb deal). I still feel like the team could have
provided another defensive and offensive assistant, as well, but
hopefully some of that will be handled in pro scouting (assuming there's
aa greater investment, as I'd hope there is).
It's hard to say what Rivera had to work with. Assuming no one goes
Bill Musgrave on him, and no player goes Kevin Greene on any of them,
the only critical decision would've been Shula. Hopefully it all works