The Panthers have hired Rob Chudzinski as their new offensive coordinator. (AP Photo)
CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers filled all three coordinator positions and added two position coaches to Ron Rivera's staff on Monday.
The Panthers agreed to terms on contracts with Rob Chudzinski to become their new offensive coordinator and Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator, a league source confirmed to Carolina Growl. Chudzinski and McDermott have yet to sign the contracts, which is why the team has yet to announce the hirings.
That news comes after the team announced that Brian Murphy, who has worked with the Minnesota Vikings special teams over the last five years, has been named special teams coordinator.
Carolina has also officially announced the hirings of two position coaches with former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks being retained as defensive backfield coach and Sam Mills as defensive quality control and assistant defensive line coach, as had been previously reported.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Chudzinski’s background is working with great tight ends like Antonio Gates, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Bubba Franks, so look for him to push to upgrade Carolina’s tight ends position with a player that do can it all.
Chudzinski, 42, was a three-year starter at Miami and helped the Hurricanes win the national championship in 1987 and ’89. He returned to coach in 1994 and spent 10 years at his alma mater. He jumped to the NFL in 2004, coaching the Cleveland Browns’ tight ends. After one year he moved to San Diego, where he helped develop Gates into a top-flight tight end.
He was named the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2007, and that year they finished eighth overall in points scored and went 10-6. However, the Browns fell to 30th in points and 31st in yards in 2008, and the entire Browns’ coaching staff was fired. He took a step back, returning to San Diego the past two seasons to coach the Chargers’ tight ends, but also held the title of assistant head coach.
He's known for having an oustanding young coaching mind.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: McDermott, 36, spent five years (1999-2003) in Philadelphia coaching alongside Rivera.
It's expected that McDermott's authority will be limited here since Rivera will have a big say in what happens on defense.
McDermott’s defense struggled in 2009 after he took over for the legendary Jim Johnson, although some attributed that drop-off to the result of losing All-Pro middle linebacker Stewart Bradley to a knee injury.
However, the Eagles struggled again this season.
Philadelphia’s red zone defense was the worst it has been since 1988 under McDermott, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 33 of the 43 red-zone opportunities , as well as field goals on nine of the other 10 attempts. The Eagles finished 12th in total defense but allowed 23.4 points per game, including 24 or more in 11 games. They also allowed a franchise-high 31 touchdown passes.
“When I get an opportunity to visit with the candidates, they will most certainly understand that I’m not turning anybody loose to do what you want,” Rivera said during his introductary press conference last week. “I want to know what your philosophy is to make sure it meshes with mine and to make sure it meshes with the personnel we have as well.
“Defense is what I know, so that's where I’ll be. Whoever we decide the coordinator is going to be, he’s got to understand that’s where I'm going to be. My goal is to run the defense and have an efficient defense, an effective defense and an attacking defense.”
After the Eagles' season-ending loss head coach Andy Reid said McDermott would be retained, but Reid apparently changed his mind.
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR: Murphy, 41, spent three seasons as an assistant with the Vikings special teams before becoming special teams coordinator in 2009. The Vikings special teams were No. 9 that season in the Dallas Morning News rankings after finishing No. 25 the previous year.
“We are very pleased that Brian is going to be overseeing our special teams units,” Rivera said in a release. “He has had success on the both the college and professional levels working with special teams and brings experience in every aspect of that critical phase of the game.”
Murphy, 41, made an immediate impact after being promoted in Minnesota.
Not only were the Vikings units among the League’s best, two players were selected to the Pro Bowl in coverage man Heath Farwell and returner Percy Harvin, who set a Minnesota record with two kickoff touchdowns in his rookie season. Harvin added another kickoff touchdown return last year and punter Chris Kluwe’s 38.9 net punting average was second best in Vikings history and ranked in the League’s top ten.
As an assistant with the special teams, Murphy also contributed to the Vikings success in ’07 when Minnesota ranked near the top in a number of League categories, including kickoff returns and kickoff coverage. The Vikings finished 4th with an average of 24.8 yards per kickoff and kickoff returner Aundrae Allison led the NFC in return average with a 28.7 average.
Prior to joining the Vikings Murphy coached at the University of Wisconsin from 2002-2005 where his return units led the Big Ten in punt and kickoff returns during his final season with the Badgers.
POSITIONAL COACHES: Meeks has been defensive coordinator for the last two seasons with the Panthers, overseeing a unit that ranked 8th in yards allowed in 2009 and 18th last season. Meeks previously was defensive coordinator of the Colts from 2002-2008 and was secondary coach at Dallas, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Washington, and St. Louis before going to Indianapolis.
Mills joined the Panthers staff in 2005 and has worked on defensive quality control as well as helping with the defensive line.
“We are glad to have both Ron and Sam stay with the Panthers,” said Rivera. “They are good coaches and are familiar with the players and organization.”
According to a league source there's a chance Jim Skipper could return as running backs coach after all. Skipper had considered a spot with John Fox's staff in Denver, but is in the process of deciding which way he wants to go in his career. The Broncos are keeping their running backs coach from last year.
Meanwhile, two coaches from last year's staff -- offensive line coach Dave Magazu and wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert -- have officially joined Fox in Denver. Linebackers coach Richard Smith and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers are also expected to join the Broncos.
The decision to hire Chudzinski means Jay Gruden is no longer in the mix to coach for the Panthers.