Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney got whacked in 2012. Head coach Ron Rivera wound up on the hot seat. And offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinksi got a head coaching gig?
From the outside, one would assume that Chudzinski was the lone bright spot in Carolina’s coaching staff last season. Well, according to one of the Panthers veterans, that’s not the case.
Wide receiver Steve Smith believes that Chudzinski, who is now the head coach in Cleveland, was victimizing Carolina’s offense by employing an air-raid attack and going away from the team’s strengths.
"The prior offensive coordinator [Chudzinski] really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job," Smith said Wednesday on a conference call with Seahawks reporters. "I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that."
Smith believes that Chudzinski would deliberately go away from the three-headed monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.
"At times, we got cute," Smith said. "We did things that weren’t necessarily us, like the underutilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we’re out of that. The past is the past."
The true strength of the Panthers offense is third-year quarterback Cam Newton and his unique ability to move the chains with his feet. Carolina utilized a zone-read scheme early to take advantage of Newton’s skillset, but after constant duress they turned to a more traditional running game.
Newton would go on to have a very productive second half of the season and led the Panthers to five wins in their last six games.