Carolina Panthers Retrospective
Panthers hire Mike Shula to be their new quarterbacks coach E-mail
Written by Steve Reed   
Friday, 21 January 2011 16:56

Mike Shula will look to fix the league's worst passing game. (AP Photo)

   CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers have hired Mike Shula, the son of legendary coach Don Shula, to be their new quarterbacks coach, the team announced Friday.
   Shula, 45, has spent the last four seasons as the quarterback coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he oversaw the development of David Garrard from a first-time starter in 2007 to a Pro Bowl appearance two years later. In Carolina, he'll have the very difficult task of turning around an offense that finished last in the league in passing in 2010 and developing Jimmy Clausen.
   But new coach Ron Rivera feels like Shula can get the job done.
   “Mike possesses a great knowledge of the quarterback position, having both played there as well as coaching it,” Rivera said.  “He has worked with a wide variety of quarterbacks during his career and will be a strong addition to our coaching staff.”
   In Shula’s first season with the Jaguars, Garrard set a single season franchise record with 28 touchdown passes and ranked third in the NFL with a team record 102.2 quarterback rating.
   “Our family is excited to be a part of the Panthers organization and to have a chance to work with coach Rivera and the new group of coaches he has brought in,” Shula said.
   Shula began his NFL coaching career in 1988 as an offensive assistant with Tampa Bay and was named quarterback coach in 1990 for a season before going to the Dolphins for two years in the same capacity.  He spent three years as tight end coach of the Chicago Bears, but returned to Tampa Bay as offensive coordinator in 1996 under Tony Dungy.
   In 2000 Shula went back to Miami as quarterback coach and remained with the Dolphins until accepting the head coaching position at the University of Alabama.  During his tenure in Miami, quarterback Jay Fiedler compiled a 21-10 record and became just the second Dolphins quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards.
   Shula compiled a 26-23 record in four seasons at Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to three consecutive bowl appearances, including a 10-2 mark and an invitation to the 2005 Cotton Bowl.  While at Alabama, he helped develop Brodie Croyle, who holds numerous school passing records and was a third round draft choice by the Kansas City Chiefs.
   Prior to coaching Alabama Shula was a three-year letterman at quarterback for the Crimson Tide and finished his career with a 32-15-1 record as a starter.  A 12th round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 1987, he remained on the roster for part of that season before starting his coaching career with the Bucs a year later.
   The Panthers are still in the process of interviewing candidates to fill assistant coaching spots at wide receiver, running back, defensive line and linebacker.
   According to a league source, one possible candidate for the wide receivers spot is Jerry Sullivan, who has spent the past six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
   Although Sullivan has yet to meet with the Panthers there is interest there.
   Sullivan has an impressive resume with 19 years of NFL coaching experience, including one season as the Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator. He has coached a multitude of Pro Bowl receivers, including San Diego’s Anthony Miller (1992-93) and Tony Martin (1996), Detroit’s Herman Moore (1997-98) and Germaine Crowell (1999), and Arizona’s David Boston (2001) and Anquan Boldin (2003).
   The last two seasons Sullivan played a significant role incorporating rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree into the 49ers offense.
   Sullivan joined the 49ers after spending the 2004 season as wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins. Sullivan was a member of the Arizona Cardinals’ coaching staff for three seasons (2001-03). In his first two years with the club, Sullivan mentored the team’s wide receivers, where he worked with a group that included Boston. Under Sullivan’s guidance, Boston led the NFL with 1,598 receiving yards on 98 receptions in 2001 and was selected to the first Pro Bowl of his career.
   In 2003, Sullivan was promoted to offensive coordinator and worked with Boldin, a second-round draft choice who finished third in the league in receptions (101) and receiving yards (1,377) on his way to being named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year, as well as a starter on the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad.
   Sullivan’s NFL coaching career began in 1992 with the San Diego Chargers.
   Following his five-year term in San Diego, Sullivan coached wide receivers in Detroit from 1997 to 2000. Prior to his tenure in the Motor City, he coached on the collegiate level from 1971 to 1991, including stints with Texas Tech, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana State and Ohio State.
   The team has also talked with former Panther wide receiver Ricky Proehl about a role as an assistant wide receiver coach but no deal has been reached. Proehl has no experience coaching at the NFL level, so it's expected the Panthers will hire a coach with more experience to primarily work with the receivers.
   Rivera is also expected to meet next week with former running backs coach Jim Skipper to determine if he’d be interested in returning to the Panthers. Skipper was part of John Fox’s staff that didn’t have his contract renewed.
   Previously, the Panthers hired Rob Chudzinski (offensive coordinator), Sean McDermott (defensive coordinator), Brian Murphy (special teams coordinator), John Matsko (offensive line coach), Ron Meeks (defensive backs) and Sam Mills III (defensive quality control/assistant defensive line).