Panthers have options after Chudzinski

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
10:55
PM ET
Although there was speculation Cam Newton would be dealing with a new head coach, that didn’t happen. But the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers will be dealing with a new offensive coordinator.

Rob Chudzinski was reportedly hired away by the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

That’s good news for Chudzinski, but not necessarily good news for Newton and the Panthers. Chudzinski was the mastermind behind an offensive scheme that helped Newton set all sorts of records as a rookie. Chudzinski also got Newton back on track after he got off to a rocky start in the 2012 season.

This creates a big void, and Carolina coach Ron Rivera needs to make the right call on hiring a replacement for Chudzinski. Rivera’s future -- and the future of the Panthers -- depends on Newton continuing to grow because he is the franchise in Carolina.

But the good news is there are some attractive options out there. Former San Diego coach Norv Turner, who employed Rivera and Chudzinski with the Chargers, is available. Chudzinski’s offense contains a lot of the same principles of Turner’s offense. Rivera and Turner have a strong relationship and I don’t think Rivera would hesitate to hire Turner -- if he can land him. Turner also could be pursued by Chudzinski.

If Rivera can't get Turner, there’s another solid option already on the staff. That’s quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, who knows Chudzinski’s offense well and has been with Newton from the start. Shula previously was an offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay, where he was criticized for being too conservative.

But, if the Panthers promote Shula, I’d expect him to stick with the offense Chudzinski already put in place.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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