So Was the Panthers Offense Improved in 2013?

USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Panthers beat writer David Newton hit my hot button which is should Mike Shula have been retained for 2014?

Rivera addressed the issue immediately after the season ended to nip the speculation in the bud. Considering the way the offense struggled down the stretch it was a fair question to ask about Shula's job security.

Though I'm going to trust Rivera at this point I can't help but look at the stats and notice the glaring difference in offensive production from 2012 to 2013. Notice the drop in average gain per play in both phases of the offense:

2012-2013 Offensive Production Comparison

Offensive Stat

2012

2013

AVG Points per Game

22.3

22.9

AVG Yards per Play

5.8

5.1

AVG Yds per Rush

4.5

4.2

AVG Yds per Pass

8.0

7.1

Yes as Newton points out the team actually scored more points in 2013. Yet if you subtract the additional pick 6 the defense put on the board (4 vs 3) the total points is practically identical (360 vs. 356). Hence what we learn from that fact is this.

While Rob Chudzinski's 2012 offense logged more yards of offense in both the rushing and passing game, he was not able to produce many more scoring opportunities (44 Tds vs 41). It was either a big play to get in scoring position or a punt.

Mike Shula's offense on the other hand was less risk more reward on 3rd down and consequently they extended more drives. It also didn't hurt the Panther defense gave Shula more touches on offense and most likely better field position.

I'm still not completely convinced it was the right decision. I question whether in the end Shula will be able to utilize Cam Newton's talents like an OC that is less conservative and more creative. I guess it's really up to Newton and whether he can continue to develop as a pocket passer who plays within the framework of the game plan.

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