Chudzinski departure makes Panthers (more of) a mess


When Ron Rivera was successfully re-interviewing for his job last weekend, one of the things he doubtless was selling was the promise of continuity after winning five of his last six, and the benefit for quarterback Cam Newton.

Now that Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is the head coach in Cleveland, Rivera’s back to square one.

If, as has been reported, Norv Turner ends up with Chudzinski, Rivera’s ostensible top candidate will be off the board. Rivera was Turner’s defensive coordinator in San Diego before getting the Panthers job.

Norv’s son Scott has been an offensive assistant in Charlotte the last two years, and his presence never seemed completely coincidental. Norv in Charlotte would have been a dream fit for Newton and whatever version of the Panthers backfield remains, along with Steve Smith and Greg Olsen.

But if Rivera couldn’t land his old boss, he’s in a bit of a pinch, as quarterbacks coach Mike Shula is the only member of his offensive staff with coordinator experience (and that wasn’t exactly distinguished in Tampa Bay), and he’s already replacing his wide receivers coach and running backs coach in a less-than-secure environment.

So to recap, a new general manager (Dave Gettleman) was given a head coach he had no voice in hiring, and now that coach has to replace half a staff and install a new system anyway.

What could possibly go wrong?

The background on the shuffle makes it more frustrating for the Panthers.

When former G.M. Marty Hurney hired Rivera, he had a list of offensive coordinator candidates in mind along with a list of head coaches. It’s believed that Bengals coordinator Jay Gruden was atop Hurney’s list, but Rivera insisted on Chudzinski instead. Hurney, in a move that may have effectively doomed him, relented and let his new coach pick his own guy.

Chudzinski is widely known as a smart guy, and his Ohio roots will give him a passion for the Browns job they need. But more than one of his former co-workers in Charlotte thought he was coaching to land a head coaching job, rather than using the tools he was given. Hence drawing up all the creative read-option plays, which were cute for a moment, while ignoring the fact he had been given running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

The end result is Rivera’s still standing, but scrambling for an answer, and the Panthers look like even more of a disjointed mess this morning than they already did.

17 responses to “Chudzinski departure makes Panthers (more of) a mess

  1. The change in events should – but won’t – lead to Rivera getting fired this week. He was brought back with the understanding his coordinators would remain. Now that Chud is leaving, it’s best to end this mess and move on in a new direction.

  2. Of the teams in the NFL, Carolina is not the one I would call a mess. A franchise in a state of flux maybe, but certainly not a mess. That just seems like lazy reporting on your part Darin. On the contrary, Carolina seems to be on the right path. What NFL team’s offseason doesn’t involve hires and fires?

  3. Fair or not, assistants that could come in and take on the oc responsibilities in Carolina are going to see the job as just a 1 year job because Rivera will not survive another losing season.

  4. lol Panther fans are ecstatic this guy is gone. He was a horrible coordinator. Cost this team games last year, and when you go 7-9 costing games costs playoffs. Praise the Lord this doofus is gone.

  5. It’s still not too late for Rivera to go; the regular season ended less than 2 wks ago—better to admit it now than make us suffer thru another season of uninspired football.

  6. Big win for Carolina!! Chud will be toast three yrs from now in Cle. Now Rivera can go get a guy to run an adult offense and maximize Cam’s arm…I would get a dual QB coach too..Chris Ault does make sense..

  7. Once again a franchise going no where can they get off the tread mill. one step forward then 2 step back. Ha Ha Ha .

  8. While Carolina isn’t in as bad a shape as the Jets or the Jags, because at least this team has a quarterback on the roster, they are still in a messy situation.

    It certainly isn’t too late to show Rivera the door and bring in a new Head Coach. It isn’t like all the pretty girls have dates to the prom already, so there’s a lot left out there to replace them. And maybe this gets Coach Cowher off the set and back on the sidelines. Whisenhunt and Mularky are both sans jobs now, and that’s a roster that is ready to compete.

  9. I’m a huge Panthers fan and I am so excited by the news of Chud’s departure. I cannot believe what I am reading in this article because Chud was awful last year. Our offense had absolutely not rhythm or continuity last season and I blame Chud. Every time we ran that stupid read option play I wanted to throw the remote at the TV screen because it got us nothing. Cam is a great runner but his designed runs never produced anything and were awful plays to call. Not only were they awful plays to call but they were seemingly our “go-to plays” in every game, just as the quick pass to Smith was the go-to play in the Fox years. The defenses read the play every time and for whatever reason our idiot OC couldn’t figure out that it wasn’t working. Chud was great in year one, just as he was great with the Browns in 2007, but awful this year just as he was in year two with the Browns in 08. I don’t know what the Browns were thinking in hiring him but I am really glad they did. I can stomach another year of Rivera so long as I don’t have to see the offense run by Chud. The Panthers have many weapons on offense and we got nothing out of them last year. I hope D-Will stays because he showed us at the end of the season that he should still be our featured back. Stewart gets hurt too often and isn’t nearly the playmaker D-Will is. D-Will only appeared to have a bad season because Chud never gave him the ball, playmakers can’t make plays when they don’t have the ball and D-Will is the kind of player that gets better with every touch. I don’t know who we will pick up as a new OC but I have to believe he shows up on Sundays with better game plans than Chud did. Good luck Browns fans, but don’t be surprised if you blow up next year then fizzle out and do nothing in 2014.

  10. How do you coach to land a head coaching job without using the tools you’re given? What does that really mean? Both RBs are good but everyone knows that the franchise will only go so far as Newton takes them and his development is obviously critical. He played much better down the stretch which I think shows that Chudzinski managed to find a way to help Cam get going.

  11. Move over Jets… with the Panthers in 2013, there’ll be a new circus in town.

    I was a Panthers fan for a lot of years, but started to shift away when the Big Cat went insane and sandbagged John Fox’s last year and then went berserk giving huge contracts to guys on the downside of careers that weren’t that stellar to begin with.

    With Richardson’s latest decisions (I can hardly call rehiring Rivera before hiring a GM), I think it’s time to move away from a franchise that appears to be sliding down a nasty slope with nothing below but a cliff and a subsequent two mile drop into oblivion.

  12. @nfloracle

    Get to steppin’. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. No fan base in America wants people like you representing them.

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