Mike Shula has been a whipping boy in Carolina for the past five years as offensive coordinator. He was criticized for being unimaginative and for struggling to capitalize on the strengths of the players he had on his roster. It's the type of criticism any fanbase levies when things aren't going well.
Today, the New York Giants, who last month hired Carolina's former General Manager Dave Gettleman, hired Mike Shula as the new Giants offensive coordinator. The Giants offense has struggled over the past couple of seasons, and it looked particularly inept this past season. Ranked 31st in the league, the Giants grasped for any sense of life, even if that meant benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith.
Mike Shula has been charged with righting the ship under new Head Coach Pat Shurmur, and fortunately for Shula, the basement is the floor. Shula has experience in the league and has had some success. He's served as offensive coordinator in both Tampa Bay and in Carolina. In his five years as offensive coordinator, Carolina ranked on average 18th in yards, 13th in points, 7th in rushing, and 24th in passing. All statistical markers better than 2016 and 2017 offensive campaigns.
While Carolina fans are chiding Giants fans over the higher, Shula isn't all bad. He may not have the world's most expansive playbook (one Bucs fan joked to me once that his playbook could fit on a napkin), he does bring a certain slow and steady approach that matches well with a team that doesn't want to win with flash, but instead is focused on slowing the game down, pounding the rock on the ground, and winning with defense and clock management. It is a familiar approach and one that Dave Gettleman will likely feel comfortable in finding players to match the scheme.
Shula will definitely mean OBJ can count on getting the rock. He seems to lean pretty heavily on the #1 receiving option, maybe a little too much at times. He will also have some receivers who can beat you downfield in New York, which fits into his scheme well. He to run the ball to set up the downfield game. It was something Carolina never executed all that well, however. One area that could prove especially challenging for Shula is the Giants offensive line. His passing offense is a little slow developing. The down-field routes require solid protection from the offensive line. It's not a strength in New York by any means. I guess at least he is accustomed to coaching a team with a struggling offensive line at least.
Carolina fans never liked Shula all that much. He received momentary grace because of Carolina's #1 scoring offense in 2015. Even that success was aided by a lot of help by the defense. No matter how tough Carolina fans were on Shula, New York is going to be a lot less forgiving. Hopefully, our criticism toughened him up because those New Yorkers are going to let him have it after running plays on 1st and 2nd down that leaves Eli Manning sacked on 3rd and 10.
By Tony Dunn
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