Before I start this, I just wanted to thank everyone for their feedback on my last two articles (Defense and Front Office). To make it the main page for me is a huge success and I really appreciate it. Now I hope I can follow up with those two with another great read. I've tried to create these posts with a different perspective to maybe understand how things work, finding correlations and trends. With all that said let's get down to the final chapter of my examination of these Carolina Panthers.
Mike Shula, love him, hate him or somewhere in between whenever Carolina loses he's usually the topic of discussion at some point. Either he didn't make the right call or played it too close to the chest on certain plays. Being an offensive coordinator seems to be a job that solely relies on stats. Good coordinators produce big numbers and usually ranked high get praise for being "offensive geniuses" so to speak while the ones that don't people seem to always think we can do better. One thing that always seems to get over looked is the talent that team has.
Adam Gase right now is being considered for head coaching positions because Peyton (Yes, Peyton) decided he was going to break every single season passing record. Josh McDaniels was held to the same praise in 2007 when Tom Brady decided to play back yard football with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stalworth. Sean Peyton struck gold in 06 landing the Saints job because Parcells acquired decent talent in FA and then on top of landing the NO job he won the lottery when they signed Brees.
If there was a guy who's career has seemed to be a disappointment it'd be Mike Shula. Having to live up to his father's legacy and never really quite did. This year has opened my eyes that he maybe one of the better offensive coordinators in this league that no one will talk about because of his previous history.
In his second year as coordinator with Tampa he took the less is more approach with Dilfer but lets look at what he did with the 4 years with Dilfer:
1996 267-482(55.3%) 2,859 yards 12 tds 19ints, 124 rush yards
1997 217-386(56.2%) 2,555 yards 21 tds 11ints, 99yards 1 td (Dilfer made the Pro-Bowl this year as well)
1998 225-429((52.4%) 2,729 yards 21 tds 15 ints, 141 rush yards 2tds
1999 146-244 (59.8%) 1,619 yards 11 tds 11 ints 144 rush yards (Dilfer only started 10 games and hurt his mcl)
1999 89-146(61.0%) 875 yards 7tds 4ints, 38 rushing yards (Shaun King)
Now mind you none of these numbers aren't good by any standards but lets look at his starting WR,TE and RB's over the course of this time:
1996: RB-Erict Rhett, Mike Alstott WR/TE-Courtney Hawkins Robb Thomas, Jackie Harris
1997: RB-Warrick Dunn* Mike Alstott*^ WR/TE-Reidel Anthony, Horace Copeland, Jackie Harris
1998: RB-Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott *^ WR/TE: Reidel Anthony, Bert Emanuel, Dave Moore
1999: RB-Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott*^ WR/TE: Bert Emanuel, Jacquez Green, Dave Moore
(*Player made ProBowl, ^Player was an all-pro.)
So looking at this magnificent list of incompetence you see the only two constants were Alstott and Dunn with only Alstott maintaining a high level of play. Along with that only one player on the offensive line made the ProBowl and that was the center(In 1996 not one offensive player was selected). These numbers all seem very underwhelming to pile that on the offense ranked 30th, 23th, 18th and 30th from 1996 to 1999. Luckily for the Buccaneers during this time they had one of the better defenses. During this period of time the Bucs were 35-29 with two winning season (1997 and 1999).
Fast forward to 2013, once again Shula is seeming to have to play McGyver again. Given limited resources he managed to help Cam achieve career highs for completion percentage, passing touchdowns and QB rating. With it being safe to say no one considers Brandon Lafell or Tedd Ginn number two receivers, and Steve Smith isn't the explosive receiver that he used to be. Which pretty much means that Greg Olsen is our best pass catcher on this team which was evident by his numbers (73 Catches on 109 targets). Steve Smith actually had the same amount of targets but 9 catches less.
To give you kind of an idea about how good Shula is (or potential to be), I'd like to look at the one season Josh McDaniels was in with the St. Louis Rams.
Total Offense: 4,537 yards (31st NFL)
Passing Yards: 2,870 yards (30th NFL)
Rushing Yards: 1,667 yards (23rd NFL)
Interesting, for a guy that's considered to an "offensive genius" he looked pretty inept. Given the fact he was in the same situation as Shula this year and with the Buccaneers. The similarity to this year like Shula, McDaniels was given a QB that was touted as the future of the organization. Bradford much like Cam this year had very limited options at receiver and a decent but declining RB.
2011 159-262(60.7%) 1,687 yards 6.4 avg. 14tds 4ints
Nothing spectacular Bradford only started 10 games this season which roughly translates to 160 yards a game. That year the Rams finished 2-14 that year, McD was fired and ran back to the safe confines of Bill Belicheck's arms.
In conclusion, I think it's safe to say that talent plays the biggest factor in the success of coordinators. It might of been something that was obviously out there but to say Shula was a bad coordinator or incapable isn't necessarily a fair judgment. Most people on this site have had no problem giving their praise to Shula. But in two or three seasons when this offense has the pieces of New England, Denver or New Orleans and ESPN or NFLN is deeming Shula an offensive genius, I want you all to remember that the genius was there all along he just needed the talent.
I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments and and discussion on these posts I know usually no one really does this but how about a few shout outs? I'd like to thank whoever put my last article on the front page (mods?) criolle. manbearchef, hurneynator, laxinbuddy, jkp1516, gadgetdawg, panthersnbraves, ingold1322, HeHate.Me(love the name btw), CR Stokes, primetimenc336, SmokeWagon, pcroadrage, Tomthehomer, t3z, jrauhauser64, Oi2dworld, PantherBlueBlood, danism, truethought, Cwatt34, Chris_Wyatt, rober.russ.33, vestal, Catkid20, rscott94, Williamsbc1, Beckly24, Josephd0 and flood. Also the people that voted on my first post I think that wraps up guys comments down below!!!