On Wednesday, we shared some comments from Panther coach Ron Rivera about the decision to promote Mike Shula to offensive coordinator with Rob Chudzinski off to Cleveland to coach the Browns.
Rivera said that the move was done to ensure continuity from the second half of the season when quarterback Cam Newton’s play took a sharp uptick. One of the guys charged with catching Newton’s passes thinks that was the right choice.
Wide receiver Steve Smith said that he thought it was important to hire someone “that doesn’t set you back” after finishing seventh and 12th in total offense over the last two seasons. While he knows that things could go a variety of ways next season, Smith believes the Panthers have avoided a setback by hiring Shula.
“It eventually was going to happen, and it did. Now you just take it with a grain of salt. Chud’s left and Shula’s there,” Smith said, via the Charlotte Observer. “You never know what’s going to be moving forward. You never know what’s in store. You’re optimistic and you’re high in spirits and you think and assume that a man who has been promoted is going to take it seriously, which I think he is. We’re ready to go.”
If keeping things intact works out the way Rivera and Smith hope, the Panthers should be able to avoid a slow start that would immediately renew talk about Rivera’s employment status. If not, continuity will likely be short-lived in Carolina.