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Steve Smith: 'Cute' Panthers offense 'suffered' while Chud looked for job

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Steve Smith has harsh words for old OC Rob Chudzinski.
Steve Smith has harsh words for old OC Rob Chudzinski. (USATSI)

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is not the type of person to mince words. He certainly didn't mince them when recently asked about his old offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski.

Smith said on a conference call with Seahawks reporters in advance of Week 1 that Carolina's offense "suffered" because Chud was "positioning himself" for a head-coaching job.

"The prior offensive coordinator really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job," Smith said. "I think our offense suffered little bit because of that."

Chud was a hot coaching name for the past two seasons. He flirted with the Buccaneers job after 2011 and then this past offseason left Carolina to bolt for the Browns gig. (Kind of at the last minute actually. Although in fairness to Chud, he grew up a Browns fan and the job opened up at the last minute as well.)

Maybe he was trying to set himself up to land a head-coaching gig but the only thing that could get him that gig in the first place is a offense that looks really good. I don't think Smith means Chud was just jetting around the country, networking his face off and completely ignoring the Panthers gameplan, it's kind of hard to imagine him causing the Panthers offense to suffer.

No, in fact, Smith thinks something that I agree completely with -- the Panthers got too "cute" on offense.

"At times, we got cute," Smith said. "We did things that weren't necessarily us, like the underutilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we're out of that. The past is the past."

Hey, that sure sounds familiar! But it should, because the Panthers were absolutely adorable in 2012 during the early portion of the season, ignoring the power run game that would later help them succeed down the stretch.

So what will new offensive coordinator Mike Shula, promoted from quarterbacks coach, do to fix that issue?

"I think Coach Shula is going to change things up, and he has so far," Smith said. "He just does little different things. Some of it looks small, but we're focusing more on the details, and that's the difference."

That's the optimistic -- if not very specific -- viewpoint of this new offense. With Cam Newton under center, DeAngelo Williams in the backfield, Smith out wide (along with Brandon LaFell and the offseason pu-pu platter featuring Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon) there is absolutely potential for a big season.

It's why I think the Panthers could be Super Bowl sleepers this season. But Shula is a major concern. He doesn't have a ton of successful experience coordinating at the NFL level. Criticize Chud all you want, but he helped Newton have the most successful pair of seasons to start a career at the quarterback position.

Shula's offense this preseason (please apply all preseason caveats yourself) was blander than a mashed cauliflower.

Smith being correct would be somewhat of an upset. But maybe that's not such a bad thing.

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