Panthers give GM Hurney the boot: Here are a few reasons why
Just a year after being hired, Hurney's Panthers went to the Super Bowl, only to lose a tight game to Tom Brady's Patriots. With everything seeming to go well, the Panthers obviously stuck with their new GM. Despite frequent bad seasons, Hurney often had the Panthers thinking he had turned the team around by making the playoffs. However, the Panthers could never sustain success, making the playoffs three times in Hurney's 10 years as GM, but never in consecutive seasons.
Since 2009, the Panthers boast a league-worst 9-29 record. Starting this season 1-5 with a team that many had picked to make the playoffs, the Panthers decided there needed to be a change in the organization. The move to fire Hurney wasn't strictly based on record, however. Here are a few bad moves that likely had the Panthers questioning Hurney's decision making:
- The worst move, in my opinion, was the amount of money that Hurney spent on running backs. He gave DeAngelo Williams a $43 million contract, then signed Jonathan Stewart to a $38 million deal the following offseason. He then signed former Chargers running back Mike Tolbert to an $8.4 million deal. While the Panthers use Tolbert as a fullback, he's more of a playmaker than a blocker. Not only did Hurney drop nearly $90 million on running backs who need touches to be effective, but he did so when the team was clearly transitioning to a pass-first attack run by first overall pick Cam Newton.
- Another Hurney head scratcher was in 2010 when he traded the Panthers' 2011 second-round pick to the Patriots so he could move up to the third-round and select Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards with the 89th pick. Edwards, at 5'11'' and 190 pounds, never had a shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. Hurney drafted him in hopes that he could develop as a wide receiver who could also run the wildcat. Through about two and a half seasons, Edwards has completed two of three passes for 11 yards, ran twice for 12 yards, and caught one pass for 12 yards. The pick Hurney traded to get Edwards ended up being the incredibly valuable 33rd overall pick in 2011.
- Jake Delhomme was always a solid quarterback for the Panthers. From 2003-2006 he started in all but four games, posting a quarterback rating in the 80's in all four seasons - not bad at all, but not great either. In 2008, the 33 year old Delhomme led the Panthers to a 12-4 record behind his pedestrian numbers - 3288 yards, 15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an 84.7 quarterback rating. Hurney decided to reward Delhomme, at the age of 34 , with a $42.5 million contract extension. Delhomme was benched in his first game under the new contract after completing 7 of 17 passes for 73 yards and four interceptions. He finished the season with a 59.4 quarterback rating, and never played for the Panthers again - though he still pocketed his $20 million guarantee.
- Finally, we have the six-year, $76 million contract given to defensive end Charles Johnson. Johnson received the contract after a season with 11.5 sacks - nearly double his previous career high of 6 - and followed up his big payday with a very modest 9 sack season. Johnson has still never made a Pro Bowl.
These are just a few of the decisions that led the Panthers to the conclusion of handing Hurney his walking papers. Brandon Beane, the team's director of football operations, will serve as the interim general manager.
The entire Panthers' coaching staff is now on the hot seat, and you can expect to see some more firings should the team continue their terribly disappointing season.