Panthers announce Chudzinski as offensive coordinator

One week after hiring Ron Rivera as their head coach, the Carolina Panthers added another former San Diego Chargers assistant to run their offense.

The Panthers on Tuesday announced the hiring of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who worked as the tight ends and assistant head coach for the Chargers' top-ranked offense last season.

"I have worked with Rob and know that he is a very good offensive coach who possesses a strong knowledge on that side of the ball," Rivera said. "I have seen him work with players, and he has the communication skills and expertise to make a most positive contribution to our coaching staff as offensive coordinator."

Chudzinski takes on the daunting task of improving a Panthers offense that ranked last in the NFL in a number of offensive categories last season under quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore, including points per game, total yards per game, passing yards per game and red-zone offense.

NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi cited a league source in reporting Monday that the Panthershired Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator, two days after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Panthers have yet to announce the hire.

Known as "Chud" in coaching circles, Chudzinski, 42, has spent his pro career bounding back and forth between San Diego and Cleveland, beginning as an assistant with the Browns in 2004. He went to San Diego for 2005 and 2006 to coach the tight ends before returning to Cleveland as offensive coordinator in 2007.

In 2007, the Browns went 10-6, their best record since 1994, and ranked eighth in the NFL in scoring and total yards while sending quarterback Derek Anderson, tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the Pro Bowl.

Things went south the following year, and the entire Browns staff was fired.

Chudzinski returned to San Diego in 2009 as tight ends and assistant head coach, playing a role in the continued development of seven-time Pro Bowl pick Antonio Gates, who had a career-best 1,157 receiving yards that season. During Chudzinski's first stint with the Chargers, Gates had the other 1,000-yard season of his career.

Chudzinski spent the first 10 years of his coaching career at the University of Miami, where he helped mentor Winslow, Jeremy Shockey and Bubba Franks, all NFL first-round draft choices.

Under Chudzinski, the tight end is expected to take a greater role in the offense, and finding one that can be a big-play threat seems to be a priority for the Panthers. The Panthers haven't had a tight end catch more than 40 passes in a season since Wesley Walls back in the George Seifert era.

"If there is a guy out there, whether through the draft or free agency or on our roster, that can become that guy that does it all of the time, we have to find him," Rivera said. "I think that will help us as an offense."

Chudzinski coached at the University of Miami from 1994 until leaving for the Browns in 2004; the Hurricanes won the national title in 2001 and set scoring records for points and yards one year later before losing to Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

As a player at Miami, Chudzinski was a three-year starter at tight end, playing on national championship teams in 1987 and '89.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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