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January 21, 2011

Panthers have youngest coordinators in NFL

The Carolina Panthers' youth movement has carried over to their coaching staff, specifically the coordinators for first-year coach Ron Rivera.

With the hires of 42-year-old Rob Chudzinski and 36-year-old Sean McDermott this week, the Panthers currently have the youngest set of coordinators in the league.

Several teams still are looking for coordinators, including former Carolina coach John Fox in Denver. Fox retained 38-year-old Mike McCoy, a former Panthers assistant, as his offensive coordinator, and reportedly is interested in bringing in Green Bay Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac to run the Broncos' defense. Trgovac, 51, was on Fox's staff in Charlotte.

The Panthers opened last season with the youngest roster in the NFL, but their coaching staff was well seasoned.

Five of Fox's 15 assistants assistants were 43 or younger. Jeff Davidson and Ron Meeks, the Panthers' coordinators last season, are 43 and 56, respectively. Meeks was retained by Rivera as the Panthers' secondary coach.

Of Rivera's three other hires, only one is north of 41 -- offensive line coach John Matsko, who turns 60 in February. Special teams coordinator Brian Murphy is 41, while assistant defensive line coach Sam Mills III is 32. Mills is another holdover from Fox's staff.

The NFL's youngest coordinator is Kyle Shanahan. The 31-year-old is in charge of the offense on father Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins' staff.

Three of the four remaining playoff teams are led by older coordinators. The Steelers have the most senior set of coordinators in 73-year-old Dick LeBeau and 58-year-old Bruce Arians.

The New York Jets are the exception. With 37-year-old Brian Schottenheimer and 44-year-old Mike Pettine, the Jets' coordinators are the second-youngest in the league.

What does it mean that the Panthers are trending younger with their coaches?

Well, a smaller payroll for starters. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said Fox ($6.5 million) and his assistants made $11.4 million in 2010, a figure Richardson called the fifth-highest in the league.

With the 49-year-old Rivera reportedly making an average of $2.8 million per year, the aggregate salaries for the Panthers' coaches should drop significantly.

But just as importantly, with the Panthers' stated philosophy to build through the draft, it makes sense to hire a mix of experienced coaches and younger, energetic assistants who can connect with the team's rookies and second- and third-year players.

Richardson said at least part of the reason the Panthers let so many veterans go last offseason was to force Fox and his staff to play the team's young players, which Fox had shown an unwillingness to do.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on January 21, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Permalink


Really happy to see Meeks was retained, though I wonder how he feels about the reduced role. I thought he did a pretty exceptional job last year, especially given his pieces.

Any word on whether the running back's coach (Skip) was retained?

Posted by: Brandon | Jan 21, 2011 12:14:24 PM

Brandon, Last report I saw had Skipper still talking to Panthers and the Broncos. However, Eric Studesville is keeping his job as RB coach with the Broncos so Skipper would have some other role there.

Posted by: Ron | Jan 21, 2011 12:39:55 PM

Alright! The Panthers are getting some good coaches with Rivera and his staff and Jerry's happy they are young and come cheap, at least much cheaper than what Fox and his staff cost.

I don't know if fans and Jerry could make out this same way again when it comes to signing the Panther's FAs or quality FAs from other teams that the Panthers might be in desperate need of. I don't think this can achieved on the cheap side.

Posted by: Out of town Panther fan | Jan 21, 2011 1:51:18 PM

Good bye Jenny Clausen and Charles hair bear Godfrey!!! You both suck!

Posted by: Pat Daddy | Jan 21, 2011 1:55:28 PM

Uh...hello...John Fox did not make 6.5 million when he started with the Panthers. Pay raises come with experience and (usually) success. Let's see where Rivera is if he makes it 9 years here.

Posted by: Phil | Jan 21, 2011 2:53:44 PM

Wow. What a great article. It's always a risk when you're trading off experience for freshness, and I really hope it pays off for them. Thanks for the comprehensive look at it.

Posted by: Jen Green | Jan 21, 2011 3:12:01 PM

Find spots for Proehl, Shula and Singletary!!

Posted by: zoneblitz | Jan 21, 2011 3:36:16 PM

I think Singletary went to the Vikes.

Posted by: Jim | Jan 21, 2011 4:19:57 PM

Sigletary is with the Vikes. I do think Proehl should be signed id love to see him back on the sidelines. I still get goosebumps thinkin about 4th and 12 with 12 seconds to go. What a great game.

Posted by: Panther4life | Jan 21, 2011 5:03:54 PM

I would love to see Ricky Proehl as WR Coach and Kevin Greene as LB Coach. Shula has been hired as QB Coach. This staff, to date has me pumped!

Posted by: SC Ken | Jan 21, 2011 5:12:24 PM

This article has me SO pumped for the season to start !

Posted by: nasty 704 | Jan 21, 2011 9:06:50 PM

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