Success creates interest in coordinators

CHARLOTTE – For defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, team success has put them in the conversation for head coaching opportunities.

"It's an honor to be in that conversation," McDermott said. "I've been in that conversation for the last couple of years. It's a direct result of the success we've had here."

McDermott's defense finished sixth in total defense (332.9 yards per game) and points allowed per game (19.3). The Panthers also led the league with 39 takeaways.

"For four years straight being a top ten defense and we led the league in takeaways – that just speaks for itself in my opinion," McDermott said. "It speaks to the players and coaches and our philosophy of how we do things."

Shula's offense finished No.1 in scoring with 31.3 points per game. It's the first time Carolina has ever led the league in points. He was particularly proud of the way the unit bounced back after posting a season-low 13 points in the Week 16 loss against the Falcons.

"Everybody was really disappointed after the Atlanta game," Shula said. "Our guys played the way they practiced. It was good to see."

During this postseason bye week for Carolina, assistants are permitted to interview for head coaching jobs. Head coach Ron Rivera said Monday that he will allow his assistants to explore those potential options.

"Balancing that is not a concern of mine – if and when those opportunities arise," McDermott said. "It's a process, and there is a lot that goes into it on both ends."

Shula said he would have to think about interviewing when and if the time comes. But like McDermott, he's focused on preparing the Panthers for postseason success.

"I'm just locked in on our next game," Shula said. "I'm locked in on what we can do this week to help ourselves prepare. I just stay focused on that."

View the top photos by photographer Kent Smith from Carolina's game against Tampa Bay.

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