Newton gets the heat, Hurney gets the boot
Posted October 22, 2012
What the Carolina Panthers lack in wins, they certainly make up for it in off-the-field drama.
Following another disappointing loss, Cam Newton gave another emotionally draining press conference. He aired out his frustration with the lack of balance, offered to leave a suggestion box for tips on turning the season around and gave the overall impression that he had lost confidence in the coaching.
"The past couple of games have been the same script, by the same director," Newton said. "It’s kind of getting boring. This taste, this vibe — I’m not buying it, man. And I don’t know what it is, but something’s going to have to change. Something’s going to have to change real fast."
Newton has a tendency to butcher metaphors and analogies to the point where it's difficult to understand the intended meaning. The NFL media is quick to make this about Newton and the coaches, but he never actually points a finger at the problem. Newton can't even identify the problem. All he knows is that the same dog and pony show of near misses followed by showing the world how much it bothers him is getting old.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson ain't feeling the vibe either, that's why longtime general manager Marty Hurney got the boot Monday morning.
Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys was a microcosm of what has plagued the Panthers throughout the season. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams had a combined 15 rushing attempts, with Williams getting the football twice for 4 yards in the five offensive plays he participated in. So much for getting a return on that $43 million contract extension. The Panthers also desperately miss Jeremy Shockey, who would be a much more viable target on a crucial 4th down situation than Louis Murphy.
The offensive scheme doesn't click like it did last year, but it's not like Hurney is the one calling the plays. However, Hurney did purchase groceries and overpaid a few times. Go look up the last four years of drafts by Hurney and explain how the cooks were supposed to whip up a winning dish.
That's what the national criticism of Newton has failed to explore. Richardson didn't pull the plug on Hurney because Newton has cooled off since his rookie season, he did it because there is absolutely no cohesiveness around the center of the offense. Ron Rivera and Rob Chudzinski are not John Fox, so it never made any sense to saddle a new coaching staff and a dynamic quarterback with the remnants of a roster that was built for other purposes.
And what was left of that roster? It didn't produce much prior to Rivera's hiring and Hurney still felt it would be worth it to throw a ton of money towards keeping it intact.
Richardson didn't make the Panthers immediately better with the firing of Hurney, but he did accomplish a couple of things with the move. It corrects the mistake of not parting ways with Hurney at the same time as Fox and it signals to impatient base in Charlotte that further change is coming. Richardson had to do it, otherwise he'd be wasting his own time and the high ceiling of a player like Newton.