Carolina Panthers made mistake promoting Shula
Preseason football games don't mean much in the big picture, but they do give us a glimpse into what we can expect.
So what did we learn from the Carolina Panthers' second preseason game, a 14-9 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday?
We saw a lot of creativity, as expected, from Eagles first-year coach Chip Kelly. The former Oregon Ducks head coach is regarded as one of the most creative offensive minds in the sport.
Mike Shula is not.
The Panthers promoted Shula to offensive coordinator after Rob Chudzinski was hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns last winter.
Like Kelly, Chudzinski is an innovator, and found outside-the-box ways to get the most out of Panthers dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton.
With "Chud" in charge, Carolina's offense ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring and seventh in total offense in 2011 — despite starting a rookie quarterback in all 16 games.
Shula wouldn't be a coach in the NFL if his father wasn't a legend.
Don Shula won two Super Bowls as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He's still the only coach in NFL history to complete a season undefeated (17-0 in 1972).
No one is confusing Mike Shula with his dad.
Mike has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL before. He was Tampa Bay's OC from 1996-99.
In 1999, Tampa Bay made it to the NFC title game but Shula was fired after the season.
During his four years in Tampa, the Buccaneers never finished higher than 22nd in the league in total offense.
Being a Shula, though, he landed on his feet. The Dolphins hired him to be their quarterbacks coach.
Mike would have never played quarterback for Alabama if he wasn't a Shula, and he certainly wouldn't have been hired as head coach of the Tide.
But that's what happened in 2003, and his first year as a head coach resulted in a 4-9 record. That's right, the most storied program in college football history went 4-9 under Shula.
The Tide also went 6-7 in 2004 and 6-6 again in 2006.
But wait, it gets worse. Under Shula's watch, Alabama had to "vacate" 21 wins due to NCAA violations.
Needless to say, Shula was fired after the 2006 season. Nick Saban took over and immediately returned Alabama to elite status. The Tide have won three of the last four national championships.
Shula bounced around as an NFL quarterbacks coach, and worked with Newton in that capacity for the past two seasons before being promoted.
Carolina's offensive starters played the entire first half at Philly but never got in the end zone. It's nothing to get worked up about because it's preseason football, but the offense looks bland.
Shula comes across as a vanilla personality, and I question his ability to confuse a defense.
The Panthers are loaded on offense; five of their starters have made the Pro Bowl at least once.
Shula has a lot to work with, yet his offense looks like it's stuck in the 1970s.
Carolina's defense was upgraded in the offseason, Newton is entering his third year and five-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith still has gas in the tank.
But Shula's lack of swag might be a detriment, and I'm not convinced he's the right guy to work with Newton.
I suspect he was promoted for the same reason Ron Rivera was hired as head coach — both were easy on owner Jerry Richardson's wallet.
NOTE: Eight NFL head coaches make salaries over $6 million per year, according to Forbes magazine, led by Sean Payton (Saints) at $8 million.
Rivera's salary for 2013 is $2.8 million, according to spotrac.com.