CHARLOTTE – Players and coaches in professional sports understand that change is inevitable, but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier when it happens.
Tight end Greg Olsen enjoyed the best years of his career with Mike Shula as Carolina's offensive coordinator. From 2014-16, Olsen was named to three consecutive Pro Bowls and became the only tight end in NFL history to record three straight 1,000-yard seasons.
But head coach Ron Rivera felt it was time for a change. Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey – like Olsen, a Miami alum – were relieved of their duties.
"You have a professional relationship and you also develop a close personal relationship," Olsen said. "Those guys have been great for my career and great for me personally. Those are guys that I'll always have a place for and a feeling of gratitude toward. It's always very hard to see people you care about have to move on."
Rivera named a replacement for Shula quickly, hiring one of the most widely respected offensive coaches in the NFL in Norv Turner. After Turner settled into his office at Bank of America Stadium, Olsen stopped by to introduce himself to the new offensive coordinator.
"Once the emotions wear off and you have a chance to digest everything, then you start looking toward the future, and that's where we are. We know Norv's resume and his reputation, and what he's done speaks for itself," Olsen said.
"I've had a chance to visit with him and talk a little bit. I really enjoyed my time with him. Being in the league a while, I've seen his offense and kind of watched it from afar. You talk to guys who have played for him and you hear nothing but great things about him as a person and as a coach."
Olsen and his teammates are just beginning their offseason break, but everyone has already thought about the transition that lies ahead.
It shouldn't be too difficult for someone like Olsen, especially considering the position he plays.
"What he's done with tight ends in the past is pretty impressive," Olsen said.
As for the offense in general, the transition should be a seamless one since Shula and Rob Chudzinkski (Carolina's OC from 2011-12) both ran a variation of Turner's system.
"As far as the concepts and terminology and stuff, there is a ton of carryover," said Olsen, who knows Carolina's offense as well as anyone. "But just like when we transitioned from Chud to Shula, play-callers each have their own unique styles and preferences. I'm sure there will be transition as far as that goes, but the overall concepts and overall approach for the offense is very similar. I think that's a positive and it's a lot easier than starting from scratch. That gives us a leg up."