NFL: Panthers coach finalizing staff

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó One week after hiring Ron Rivera as their new head coach, the Carolina Panthers have added another former San Diego Chargers assistant coach to run their offense.
The Panthers on Tuesday announced the hiring of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who worked as the tight ends and assistant head coach for the Chargersí No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL last season.
Chudzinski takes on the daunting task of improving a Panthers offense that ranked dead last in the league in a number of offensive categories last season under quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore, including points per game, total yards per game, passing yards per game and red zone offense.
Chudzinski has worked the past two seasons with Rivera in San Diego.
ěI have worked with Rob and know that he is a very good offensive coach who possesses a strong knowledge on that side of the ball,î Rivera said. ěI have seen him work with players and he has the communication skills and expertise to make a most positive contribution to our coaching staff as offensive coordinator.î
Known as ěChudî in coaching circles, the 42-year-old Chudzinski has spent his pro career bounding back and forth between San Diego and Cleveland, beginning as an assistant with the Browns in 2004. He went to San Diego for 2005 and 2006 to coach the tight ends before returning to Cleveland as offensive coordinator in 2007.
In 2007 the Browns went 10-6, their best record since 1994, and ranked eighth in the NFL in scoring and total yards while sending quarterback Derek Anderson, tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the Pro Bowl on offense.
However, things went South the following year and the entire Browns staff was fired.
He returned to San Diego in 2009 as tight ends and assistant head coach, playing a role in the continued development of Antonio Gates, who had a career-best 1,157 receiving yards that season. During his first stint with the Chargers, Gates had the only other 1,000-yard season of his career.
Chudzinski spent the first 10 years of his coaching career at the University of Miami, where he helped mentor Winslow, Jeremy Shockey, and Bubba Franks, who were all first round draft choices in the NFL.
Under Chudzinski, the tight end is expected to be more incorporated into the offense and finding one that can be a big-play threat seems to be a priority for the Panthers.
The Panthers have not had a tight end catch more than 40 passes in a season since they had Wesley Walls back in the George Seifert era.
ěIf there is a guy out there whether through the draft or free agency or on our roster that can become that guy that does it all of the time we have to find him,î Rivera said. ěI think that will help us as an offense.î
Chudzinski coached at the University of Miami from 1994 until leaving for the Browns in 2004 during which time Miami won the national title in 2001 and set scoring records for points and yards a year later before losing to Ohio State in the national championship game.
As a player for the Hurricanes, Chudzinski was a three-year starter at tight end, playing on national championship teams in 1987 and ë89.

Sean McDermott was picked as Carolinaís defensive coordinator.
McDermott was hired Monday, two days after he was fired as Eagles defensive coordinator.
The 36-year-old McDermottís duties are unclear, as Rivera said he would run the defense. Under McDermott, Philadelphia allowed 377 points this season.
The Panthers did announce Monday that former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks accepted a demotion to secondary coach.
Former Vikings assistant Brian Murphy has been hired as special teams coordinator, while Sam Mills III will return as assistant defensive line and quality control coach.