Williams critical of former coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams pointed to the departure of former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as a reason behind his strong start to the season.

Williams has 291 rushing yards through three games, the third-highest total in the NFL.

"I'm not going to start anything or push anything out there," Williams said Tuesday. "I can say this, though -- a different offensive coordinator. I can definitely say that. The last offensive coordinator got rid of his starting running back."

Chudzinski, who is in his first season as coach of the Cleveland Browns, was instrumental in the team's trade last week that sent star running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.

Williams insisted he wasn't taking a shot at Chudzinski for trading Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

"Did I take a shot? Or did I speak facts?" said Williams, who rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries in Sunday's 38-0 victory over the New York Giants. "A shot is just like it can be factual but it's really not. That was all facts. I wasn't taking a shot at him -- he knows what he's doing."

The Browns defeated the Minnesota Vikings 31-27 days after parting with Richardson.

Williams has had at least 17 carries in each game this season, including 22 and 23 the past two weeks, respectively. He had only three games last season with 17 or more attempts.

Williams' comments marked the second time this season that a member of the Carolina offense has said something pointed about Chudzinski. Wide receiver Steve Smith said before the season opener that some of the Panthers' offensive problems last season were caused by Chudzinski.

"The prior offensive coordinator really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job," Smith said at the time. "I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that.

"At times, we got cute. We did things that weren't necessarily us, like the under-utilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we're out of that. The past is the past."

Mike Shula, who replaced Chudzinski, runs less of the read-option offense that Chudzinski implemented with quarterback Cam Newton and relies more on a traditional I-formation running game.

Williams has benefited from the change in offensive philosophy, and his 291 rushing yards rank behind only Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (395) and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin (297).

Carolina's offense has gone from passing 51.4 percent of the time last season to 45.8 percent through three games this year.

"You tell me what the difference is in 2013 versus 2012," Williams said.