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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chud, Staff Appear Out in Cleveland

A staff near and dear to many Carolina fans and players appears to be in peril.

While plenty of guys in the Carolina backfield have mixed sentiment about Rob Chudzinski, among the Cleveland staff include the former Panther OC, former assistant WRs coach Scott Turner, position coaches John Settle and Fox-era coaches Ken Flajole and Brian Baker, along with former third-tier assistant Bobby Babich, and topped by former NFL head coach (and the guy who brought most of this together), Norv Turner.  That goes along with a guy who many in the NFL will end up interviewing (if for the Rooney rule only), DC Ray Horton.

Any of which I'd be happy to have on a coaching staff.

The funny thing isn't that Carolina's doing well without the free-wheeling Chudzinski, and in many ways success has gone sky-high but the offense could use a taste of his style.  They've succeeded in important things like time of possession, and third down, and I won't pretend to miss a deep shot on 2nd and 10 waiting to kill a drive, but they need some big plays, too.

And there's no joy that he failed - I wouldn't really even call it failure for him to turn an offense line that into the 12th in yards (or that they'd lead the league in attempts, and fail miserably running) with those QBs.  I don't think he deserves to be fired.

On the other hand here's this tweet:

: "He's a douche. No one on offense trusts him." Text from a player regarding Rob Chudzinski.

and in a fun bit of weird twitter mechanism, I had left it open to see Chudzinski trending and the one quote seems to be all over it. 

Now with that said, I don't know how wide-spread that is.  I do know it's not a great sign, but it's potentially isolated.  Then again, Carolina guys were anywhere from non-committal to outright glad he left, too.

So, now what?

Technically, Chudzinski as a fired head coach can do what he wants from here.  It's not exactly a blazing endorsement to be fired after a year, so he's not the hottest commodity.  The staff might not get fired so quickly.

Is there room for any of them to help with the playoffs?   It would be unorthodox.  I remember a fired Josh McDaniels showing up for work in the playoffs for the Patriots, in the event he was hired with them immediately.  I don't know that will happen here, unfortunately.

There's not much room.  Now, they could hire Turner as an emeritus coach, an assistant head coach/offense type guy to not remove the OC job from Mike Shula, but potentially help out with the big picture stuff.  He and Chudzinski are linked, but only inasmuch as they would work together if possible.  Turner wouldn't ever be much less than an OC, and neither for Chud; since neither will head coach again, there's no room for both to call plays.  So, Rivera attempting to get Turner last year could be a boon, while some of the other staffers might want to stay with Chudzinski.

Defensively, I really like Flajole, a Fox staffer who I'd be willing to bet ends up back in under Fox if/when Jack Del Rio transitions to a new job this year, and maybe even if not.  Brian Baker moving from DL to OLB was a good career move, and hopefully he learned from Horton and Flajole.  And Horton himself brings a good defense.  But there's obviously no room there.

Even if Sean McDermott left for a head coaching job, which would be an outside shot at best and not helped with Carolina being deep in the playoffs, Steve Wilks would elevate and the team would want a new DBs coach or two, not a DL/LB guy.  I'd also go as far as to say that the Panthers are a well coached team defensively, and say it safely.

So, there's that outside conspiracy-theory shot that Turner would come to work here and do it early.  I don't know if it'd be Rivera's style, but even just to employ the 61 year old NFL lifer in a limited role for the next few years to help do things like self-scout and clean up some issues in the Panthers' offense would be fantastic.  I imagine that to be what Rivera hoped of the serendipity of Turner and staff being let go with Chud leaving, but most aren't quite that lucky.  I'm glad Carolina saved their luck for the ballfield.
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