A couple of thoughts on Ron Rivera and his new Panther staff, which is coming together pretty quickly now...
The hiring of Rob Chudzinski, detailed in this story here by Darin Gantt, was key. I like the fact that the Panthers, despite developing their own list of offensive coordinator candidates, allowed Rivera to go after his first choice here. If you're going to cook the meal, you better get to buy the groceries, as Bill Parcells once said about another NFL matter.
Did you notice what the fewest number of points scored was among the 8 playoff teams last weekend? It was 21. All the losing teams scored at least 21, and the winners were generally a lot higher than that.
But "21" was nothing but a dream for the Panthers last season, who averaged exactly one offensive TD per game. Carolina was the NFL's worst team in points and yardage in 2010. And while the NFL used to be a league where you could win a number of games in the 16-13 range, that's not true anymore. You better be scoring in the low to mid-20s nowadays to secure wins -- Carolina averaged 12.25 points per game in 2010.
New defensive coordinator Sean McDermott sounds promising, too, and here's Joe Person's story about that. But McDermott's importance is not at the same level as Chudzinski's. It appears the Panthers are going to blitz more now, which is a fine thing, but they would have done that with Rivera directing the team regardless of who he hired as DC.
But the offense? It needs an overhaul. Chudzinski will have the chance to provide it -- but first he and Rivera are going to have to decide on what they're going to do at QB. I remain committed to the idea that Jimmy Clausen is not the answer -- not in 2011, not in 2012, not in any season. But who is? Good question. Matt Moore posted a blog today saying he hoped to be back in Carolina in 2011, but I don't really see that happening.
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