By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Mike Shula is out in Carolina.
The Panthers fired their longtime offensive coordinator and also cut ties with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey on Tuesday, two days after a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Shula spent seven seasons with Carolina, working as the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013.
Carolina finished 19th in total offense and fourth in rushing this past season, but again struggled moving the ball through the air and finished 28th in passing.
The Panthers were 12th in points scored. Carolina went 11-5 during the regular season, but lost 31-26 to the Saints on Sunday in the wild-card round.
The news comes one day after coach Ron Rivera had seemed to give his entire coaching staff an endorsement.
However, Rivera made the decision to fire Shula, the son of legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, after a meeting with general manager Marty Hurney.
Shula has coached 30 years, 26 of those in the NFL.
Dorsey served as quarterbacks coach from 2013-17 following two seasons as a pro scout.
One potential replacement is Panthers offensive assistant Ron Turner, but it’s possible Rivera could look outside the organization to make a change. The Panthers have called a Tuesday afternoon news conference with Rivera to discuss the decisions.
Carolina has been one of the league’s top running teams — in large part because of quarterback Cam Newton’s ability to run the ball — over the past four seasons, averaging the league’s fourth-highest total at 128.3 yards per game.
However, its passing game has never taken off.
Over that same span the Panthers averaged 229.5 passing yards per game, which is the third-fewest in the league.
Also, Newton’s passing numbers have taken a nosedive since he was selected as the league’s MVP in 2015 when he combined for 45 touchdowns — 35 passing and 10 rushing — and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
Newton has posted the worst two quarterback passer ratings of his seven-year NFL career in the past two seasons.
This past season, he posted a QB rating of 80.7, which ranked 18th in the league. He completed just 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,301 yards with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Newton was the team’s leading rusher with 754 yards.
The team also struggled at times to find the right role for rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who made numerous big plays at Stanford but struggled to do so in Carolina until the playoff game against the Saints.
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