The Carolina Panthers have fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey following Sunday’s 31-26 wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The departures come one day after head coach Ron Rivera said he didn’t expect anybody to leave his staff unless another organization hired them, per Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer.
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Shula took over the Panthers offense in 2013 after two years as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Along with four seasons as the head coach at the University of Alabama (2003-06), he spent nearly two decades as an offensive assistant with several NFL teams before arriving to Carolina.
The Panthers finished the regular season 11-5, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round on Sunday. Carolina averaged 22.7 points per game (12th in the NFL) and were fourth in the league in rushing yards behind rookie Christian McCaffrey, veteran Jonathan Stewart and quarterback Cam Newton.
Carolina struggled to keep pass-catchers on the field, with only Devin Funchess available for all 16 games; tight end Greg Olsen, Newton’s favorite target, missed nine games with a foot injury, and Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo midway through the season, though injuries and trades can’t be considered Shula’s fault.
Jettisoning the offensive coordinator and QB coach signals that head coach Ron Rivera wants to take a fresh approach with Newton.
The Panthers coach told reporters Tuesday that Carolina’s new offensive coordinator must bring a “different perspective” to the offense. “It is about growth,” Rivera said, “and this football team has room to grow.” Rivera added that the Panthers don’t have a timeline for the new hire.
With defensive coordinator Steve Wilks interviewing for head coaching jobs this week, it’s likely Rivera will be completely overhauling his coaching staff weeks after signing a new two-year extension.
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