Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith pointed to former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's ambition as a problem for the team's production last season.
Speaking to reporters via a Wednesday conference call, Smith said Chudzinski was "positioning himself" for the Browns' head coaching job -- a job he eventually won.
"The prior offensive coordinator [Chudzinski] really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job," Smith said. "I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that.''
As a result, Smith said the Panthers strayed too far from their strengths.
"At times, we got cute," Smith said. "We did things that weren't necessarily us, like the underutilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we're out of that. The past is the past."
Smith was complimentary of the Panthers' new offensive coordinator, Mike Shula, who was Carolina's quarterbacks coach last season.
"I think Coach Shula is going to change things up, and he has so far," Smith said. "He just does little different things. Some of it looks small, but we're focusing more on the details, and that's the difference."Quarterback Cam Newton and coach Ron Rivera have said the team needs to run a more balanced offense. After a 2-8 start, the Panthers won five of their last six games in 2012 after adopting a more simplified offensive that allowed quarterback Cam Newton to run more read options, and throw more shorts and intermediate pass routes.