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February 05, 2013

Analyzing the Panthers' staff changes

Ron Rivera kept his job, but several of his assistants did not.

After Rivera fired three staff members, he and the Panthers received a jolt when offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski bolted for the Browns.

With Rivera putting the finishing touches on his re-made staff Tuesday by hiring assistant special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and offensive quality control coach/assistant receivers coach Lance Taylor, it's worth looking at where the Panthers' staff improved, stayed the same or took a step back.

Offensive coordinator: There's a segment of Panthers fans who believed Chud was crazy for running the zone-read option, the same scheme San Francisco used to get to the Super Bowl. Chudzinski might have gotten too cutesy at times, but he's a gifted play-caller who will be missed.

The Panthers were smart not to hit the reset button with a new offense, and former quarterbacks coach Mike Shula knows the scheme as well as anyone. Shula's track record an an NFL play-caller is suspect, although he worked with a pair of sub-par quarterbacks in Tampa Bay in Trent Dilfer and Shaun King.

Rivera is banking that Cam Newton – and 15 additional years of experience – will make Shula more successful in his second stint as a coordinator.

Quarterbacks: When the Panthers hired Ken Dorsey as a pro scout two years ago, it was assumed the former University of Miami and Browns quarterback would join the coaching staff at some point. Dorsey knows Newton well, having worked with him – along with former Panthers QB Chris Weinke – at IMG during the lockout.

Special teams: Rivera interviewed a couple of veteran special teams coaches in Bobby April and Dave Toub before both were hired elsewhere. So Rivera promoted Richard Rodgers – the interim special teams coordinator last season after Brian Murphy was fired – and brought in DeHaven to assist him.

This looks like a good combination. Unlike Murphy, Rodgers is popular among Panthers' players and did a good job last year.

But he's still inexperienced as an NFL assistant. Enter DeHaven, who has 26 years in the league and last season led a Buffalo special teams unit that was first in the league in punt returns and fourth in kick returns.

Running backs: The Panthers upgraded by bringing back Jim Skipper, Carolina's assistant head coach under John Fox who has the respect of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Like DeHaven, Skipper has a wealth of NFL experience.

Receivers: Rivera was confident former Panthers WR Ricky Proehl was ready to run the receivers room after he assisted Fred Graves for two seasons. Graves was Steve Smith's position coach at Utah, and helped Brandon LaFell develop into a dependable No. 2 wideout.

But Proehl brings more energy to the position. He'll be assisted by Taylor, a former Appalachian State assistant who played for Shula at Alabama.

Linebackers: Warren Belin had no NFL experience when Rivera hired him on Sean McDermott's recommendation two years ago. Al Holcomb, who replaced him, has only a little more than Belin and has never been a position coach.

But Holcomb comes from the Giants, so new GM Dave Gettleman knows him and obviously likes him.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on February 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Permalink


Finally a good move now all we need is to bring In some WR from free agency

Posted by: Desmond | Feb 5, 2013 12:54:16 PM

First and foremost we need to restructure some contracts in order to keep the core of our dependable players on the roster for next season. I like the direction were going but if we can't manage to keep our heavy hitters then were taking steps back again. It's like putting a band aid on an open chest wound.

Posted by: Ben | Feb 5, 2013 1:30:19 PM

Wr my ass. First we will be lucky to get any fas at all must less one worth anything. Like thats anything new. we probably gna lose gamble the only db we have, and our oline which is where I put alot of our woes from the slump last year. I say beef the line, use our 100 mil rb core and maybe we win over 500.

Posted by: Tim | Feb 5, 2013 1:33:40 PM

Wr my ass. First we will be lucky to get any fas at all must less one worth anything. Like thats anything new. we probably gna lose gamble the only db we have, and our oline which is where I put alot of our woes from the slump last year. I say beef the line, use our 100 mil rb core and maybe we win over 500.

Posted by: Tim | Feb 5, 2013 1:33:42 PM

I wonder if Gettleman can score me some free tix.

Posted by: Marty Hurney | Feb 5, 2013 2:22:00 PM

I sure do miss Ron Green Jr.


Posted by: Ron Green Jr | Feb 5, 2013 2:49:01 PM

What's all this hubbub about UNC-CH players having to go to class? It has never been that way in the past, it is not fair to make them go now.

Posted by: Ron Green Sr | Feb 5, 2013 2:50:17 PM

Umm no Tim. Giving Newton more weapons should be the # 1 concern. Smith is getting old and Lafell needs help. Losing Gamble is a positive. McDermontt was able to put a top ten defense together with a rag/tag defensive backfield.

Posted by: D.W.G. | Feb 5, 2013 2:55:47 PM

Remind me, who's Ron Green Jr.?

Posted by: Logan | Feb 5, 2013 3:27:15 PM

Tim is a horses hiney isn't he guys.

Posted by: Big Bad John | Feb 5, 2013 5:02:50 PM

We need a panthers team that wants to be successful. Rework contracts to free up cap room, if the player believes he too high and mighty, cut him, set him free, we need people who play to win, not for just paychecks. Draft OL and a quality safety and Carolina will be a playoff contender.

Posted by: jeff | Feb 5, 2013 5:13:08 PM

First thing the Panthers need to do to have a winning season is fire the coach. The draft order should be, CB, OL, Safety, DL. Trade Williams, Gamble, and the overrated John Beason for more draft picks. Redo Steve Smith, Gross, Johnson and James Anderson. Need a FG kicker too.

Posted by: Panthergreat89 | Feb 5, 2013 6:28:09 PM

Yeah, I mean, all you have to do is trade Williams, a near-30 rb, which has next to no value in NFL trades, Beason, who has barely even played in 2 years, and Gamble, who is also 30, coming off an injury, at a position that places a premium on speed, all three with GIANT contracts no one wants, and we'll get all sorts of picks. Right!? And while we're at it, let's pick the order of players we draft before we even know who's available with those picks. Because drafting for need and ignoring the better available players, works so well, just ask the Raiders. And I'm sure Smith, Gross, Johnson, and Anderson will be more than willing to redo their contracts. I'm sure Panthergreat89 even talked to them about it, cause he's so in the know...

Posted by: swizzlesticks | Feb 5, 2013 7:39:06 PM

WR position is fine. We have 1 elite guy, 1 solid guy, and like 8 capable fast guys. 1 of those 8 will become solid this year.

we need a ball hawk of a FS. that's it. or convince chris gamble to both take a pay cut AND a position change.

gettleman got the best gig in the game. make minimum changes and reap the benefits of less coaching mistakes. he'll win with hurney's guys for a while if he's smart.

Posted by: charlottean | Feb 5, 2013 10:45:55 PM

we need a cb from alabama and we need to get ed reed he gon to be a freeagent next season

Posted by: neelyboy3 | Feb 6, 2013 11:16:57 AM

OK, so if I read this correctly, all the new hires were amazing upgrades and there is no reason not to win 16 games next season. Sweet.

Posted by: Man Up | Feb 6, 2013 11:46:50 AM

Gettleman needs to sit down with the entire team to see who is willing to restructure deals, the more players willing the less money they have to take from the players it's simple math... Gamble can't play safety he is a man coverage guy safeties are more hard hitting zone players haruki is an absolute joke we need a hard hitting ball hawk like the FS from Florida our D- line is pretty decent if they can stay healthy if we get another shut down corner to play next to gamble we have like three other guys who can make our nickel package behind those two guys unstoppable... Amini will get much better next year but we could use a nasty right tackle like DJ fluker from Alabama... Nothing is gonna happen through free agency we don't have the money

Posted by: Justin | Feb 6, 2013 2:39:28 PM

I have no problems with the coaching staff, as a matter of fact I am glad Chud is gone. The combination of power running and zone read is fine, but the zone by itself is not worthy as the defenses are too quick and good. My reasoning is look at 2011, and the last 8 games of 2012. Keep it simple and fast.

Posted by: ahrcshaw | Feb 6, 2013 10:04:03 PM

Well, I guess seeing the Mr. Richardson owns this team and is giving Ron R another shot at running it, we'll have to see what comes from this collection of new coaches. If it doesn't work this year, fire all of them and start completely over. With the cap mess left over from Hurney, coupled with some of the horrible draft picks, poor traded that he made as well as the lousy free agents moves that brough about NOTHING, I just don't expect much from the Panthers next year. So, surprize us all and win for a chance, OK.

Posted by: vinny_57 | Feb 7, 2013 8:11:07 AM

We should get some Duke fans in the endzones to pump up team spirit with some of their classy cheers. They have to carry on the tradition of the lacrosse team, after all.

Posted by: manu4t | Feb 8, 2013 4:41:49 PM

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