One day after head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that he didn’t anticipate changes to his staff outside of someone getting a job elsewhere, the Carolina Panthers announced that offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey have been fired.
And that might not be the end of the upheaval: Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is a hot head coaching candidate who is interviewing with the New York Giants on Tuesday; if the Giants don’t hire Wilks, he has two other interviews lined up this week.
Shula, a member of the Panthers’ staff since 2011, spent the past five years as coordinator; when Shula was promoted, the team moved Dorsey, who had been in the team’s scouting department, into the role of quarterbacks coach.
The Panthers finished the regular season 11-5, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round on Sunday. Carolina averaged 22.7 points per game (12th in the NFL) and were fourth in the league in rushing yards behind rookie Christian McCaffrey, veteran Jonathan Stewart and quarterback Cam Newton.
Carolina struggled to keep pass-catchers on the field, with only Devin Funchess available for all 16 games; tight end Greg Olsen, Newton’s favorite target, missed nine games with a foot injury, and Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo midway through the season, though injuries and trades can’t be considered Shula’s fault.
Reserve receivers Kaelin Clay and Brenton Bersin were pushed into service late in the season.
Newton was chosen as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, under the tutelage of Shula and Dorsey.
Rivera recently agreed to a two-year contract extension, which keeps him with the Panthers through the 2020 season.