The Carolina Panthers were surprisingly quiet on “Black Monday” as owner Jerry Richardson said he didn’t want to make any rash decisions and take some time to consider the next move for the Panthers’ coaching staff. One hot coaching commodity out on the market, current Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly, already has interviews lined up with several clubs starting tomorrow. That means time is running out for Carolina.
As of now, Ron Rivera remains the head coach as other teams frantically schedule interviews to fill their vacancies. The Panthers should pull the trigger on their coaching change (if they’re going to make one) and get into the race for Kelly as their next head coach.
Rivera has been an all right coach since taking over the reigns in Carolina. However, he is ill-equipped to utilize the talents of the Panthers’ roster effectively. His defensive background is good, but the athletes currently playing for Carolina, like quarterback Cam Newton, are out of his comfort zone as far as offensive schemes are concerned.
Following a breakthrough rookie campaign, Newton stalled a bit in his sophomore season. Defenses were able to contain, confuse and shut down the talented quarterback as the offensive schemes around him failed to evolve. Very basic elements of the read-option style of offense were utilized, but their success was limited.
Kelly is an innovator of the read-option offense which Newton thrived in during his college run with the Auburn Tigers where he won a BCS National Championship over Kelly’s Ducks. He has also flashed some great ability in the NFL when allowed to use his athleticism in creative ways as well. Given a coach that knows the read-option running style as well as Kelly, he could take the next step and flourish as a true dual-threat quarterback.
Those who say that Kelly’s system is just a “gimmick” that won’t work in the pros haven’t been paying attention to the changing landscape of the NFL. The New England Patriots brought Kelly in during the offseason to get pointers on running his up-tempo style, which Tom Brady and company used effectively all season long to press the advantage over opposing defenses.
Then there’s the renaissance happening with the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin III. Head coach Mike Shanahan has fully committed to using his quarterback’s athleticism in the read-option and it has worked wonders as Washington won its first NFC East title since 1999 and RGIII is likely in line to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
With the talent on the Panthers, with Newton and dynamic running backs like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart (a former Duck), the team should be using more creative running schemes to break off big runs, in the exact same way that Chip Kelly’s offenses do now at Oregon. Seeing the potential in the backfield wasted year after year has to be getting old for Richardson and Panhers’ fans everywhere. Something needs to happen.
The pieces are there for Kelly to come in and find some success right away. All that’s left is for Jerry Richardson to make the call.