The Carolina Panthers had a great 2011 season, but they face one major question heading into the 2012 offseason:
What if offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is hired away and the Panthers have to replace him?
The Panthers are coming off a very great season, despite a 6-10 record. Rookie quarterback Cam Newton had arguably the best rookie season for a quarterback in the history of the NFL, and the offense looked great both passing and running the ball.
The defense could have been better, but they were dealing with many injuries and are sure to improve next year. The team did fantastic for a first year under a rookie head coach and brand new system on both sides of the ball.
So, wouldn't it be a major setback if Chudzinski is to leave in a few days or weeks? We have seen plenty of young quarterbacks struggle whenever they have to learn multiple systems in a short amount of time.
Would Newton be able to pick up a new offensive coordinator's system in one offseason? Would this new person be as dedicated to Cam and his style of play, or would they come in and change everything? The Panthers have weapons all over the offense, and any guy that comes in will inherit a talented group.
The simple fact is that the Panthers do not have to worry about any of this actually happening.
I am not saying that Chudzinski will definitely be in Carolina next season because he could very well end up as a head coach somewhere else in the league, but the Panthers would continue on without him and play about exactly the same as they did this past season.
The reason for that is because they already have Chudzinski's replacement on staff. His name is Mike Shula and he is currently the Panthers' quarterbacks coach.
Shula has a very good relationship with Newton and he would undoubtedly run a very similar system to Chudzinski if he were to take over. The Panthers would not have to bring in a new guy, but could continue rolling on just fine with Shula stepping into the offensive coordinator role.
I have no doubt that the Panthers would prefer to keep Chudzinski, especially after this year, but the good news is that a replacement would not be difficult to find.