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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Shula is conservative, but likes the offense

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You knew the Carolina Panthers were going to be more conservative offensively than a year ago when Mike Shula was named the offensive coordinator. That's his reputation.

What does Shula think about Sunday?

"I don't really worry about [that],'' he said on Monday. "We're going to do what it takes with the personnel we have to go win, however we go do it. With the personnel we have, we're not going to be conservative.''

The Panthers appeared conservative in Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Carolina's Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams
Cam Newton passed for a career-low 125 yards, but Carolina rushed for 134 yards -- led by DeAngelo Williams' 86.
They threw only three passes beyond 10 yards, which head coach Ron Rivera said was too conservative. Quarterback Cam Newton had a career-low 125 yards passing, which Rivera said also needed to improve.

Shula doesn't plan to abandon what he's spent the entire offseason installing, and won't start launching bombs when the situation doesn't call for it. He says his system allows enough deep throws.

"This system is a system that does that a lot,'' he said. "But just because you have a system that does that doesn't mean you have to force the ball down the field. I really thought Cam did a nice job on a lot of decisions he made.

"There's some things we looked at that, yeah, we had some opportunities. We think we'll get better in that regard. But you don't want to just all of a sudden say, 'Hey, we've got to throw the ball down the field.' ''

Shula is more worried about staying out of third-and-long, which allowed Seattle to use a lot of deep coverages that prevented Carolina from taking shots down field.

"We did some good things on third down,''  Shula said. "But third-and-long they were definitely deep, which they should be. ... Cam, like I said, I thought he made some good decisions. His completion percentage was up, but unfortunately we're used to having a few more explosives.

"Now whether that's throwing the ball deep down the field or in the seams or on outs, or underneath and breaking tackles, that's what we've got to do a better job doing.''

The good news is the running game looked solid with the exception of DeAngelo Williams' fumble at the 8-yard line that could have changed the outcome and opinions on the play-calling.

Carolina had 134 yards on 26 carries for a healthy 5.2 average. Upon further review of the statistics, it was determined Williams had 86 yards instead of the 76 yards he officially was credited with on Sunday.

Apparently, a 15-yard penalty at the end of a 10-yard run was credited as a 25-yard penalty instead of a run and penalty.

That was set straight on Monday. Shula believes the offense will set itself straight with more experience, not necessarily more deep passes or the ever-so-popular zone reads that he's cut back on.

"There were a few,'' he said of zone reads. "Some we handed off, a couple that [Newton] kept. We'll continue to look at that number. We're going to do what it takes to win, what we feel is best for this offense to get the ball in the end zone.

"There's a fine line there between doing that and doing it too much because you don't want your quarterback getting hit all the time.''

There's nothing wrong with being conservative on that.