Chuck Burton/Associated Press
On the surface, this seems like a question that has already been answered. Head coach Ron Rivera has went as far to say that he expects his "entire staff to return" for next season, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Unless defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is hired by Cleveland (a very unlikely scenario), there really shouldn't be any movement by anyone on the Carolina coaching staff.
However, there has been a bit of an uproar over the conservative nature of offensive coordinator Mike Shula's play-calling. The talent on the offense is very capable of racking up yards and putting up points. That much was evident in 2011 during Cam Newton's rookie year, but the man calling the shots was former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
There is no question that Shula's scheme is more conservative than what Chudzinski brought to the table in 2011 and 2012. In fact, the only real knock against his play-calling in 2012 was the consistent use of the read-option. Defenses had adjusted, and it seemed as though the Panthers were not nearly as unpredictable in Chudzinski's second year of leading the offense.
To Shula's credit, he took the same system and simplified everything.
Newton saw a decrease in passing and rushing yards, but he enjoyed a higher passer completion percentage and an increase in touchdown passes. He did enough of the right things to lead his team to four come-from-behind wins and clinch the NFC South.
Of course, Carolina did not have anyone to rush for 1,000 yards or reach 1,000 yards receiving. Greg Olsen and Steve Smith led the team in receiving yards with 816 and 745 yards, respectively. Having a tight end lead the team in receiving yards should say enough about the inability of the Panthers to spread the field.
Then again, an argument could be made about not having a quality No. 2 receiver to take the focus off Smith and Olsen. Regardless, the offense needs to step up and make life easier for the defense. If Carolina cannot correct its woes on offense, it may come up short of its goal yet again in 2014.
The question remains: Is Shula the right man for the job? After all, this was the same offensive coordinator who could not call a play to get his offense to score a touchdown, despite two visits deep inside the red zone in the divisional round of the playoffs.