Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Oct 2012

Panthers Fire Marty Hurney

It's about time. I'm not sure I can do a better job of summing up Hurney's poor decisions than Bill Barnwell does in this Grantland piece, but here's an attempt at a short version: He gave huge contracts to players with poor medical histories, he spent a ton of money on running backs even as the NFL became more and more pass-centric, and he constantly dealt a better pick next year so he could get a pick this year and take a player who never ended up amounting to anything anyway.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 22 Oct 2012

31 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2013, 5:19am by melaaniesmith


by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:36am

I disagree with this move. Hurney just needed more time. At least the Panthers have the right coach in place.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:46am

Hurney came in when John Fox did in 2002. Hurney did NOT need more time. If anything, Hurney needed to go two years ago, and Fox needed more time with a new GM and better players/draft picks. Fox got stuck with an owner that was not willing to extend any contracts at all in the 2 seasons leading up to the player lockout. It left the Panthers low on talent, and Fox was left to suffer with it on the field for his last season. When the lockout was lifted, Hurney started handing out fat contracts that were out of touch with what the team needed.

The worst part is that this season's team is only a few lucky bounces away from being 4-2 (Falcons, Seahawks, Cowboys) and in contention. Instead, they are already done for the season, barring a miracle the likes of which they have shown they are absolutely unable to complete.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:02am

Assuming you weren't being sarcastic, what personnel moves in the last several years indicate to you that Hurney was doing a good job? Drafting Cam Newton with the first pick was a no-brainer, and I can't think of another transaction in which the Panthers either acquired an impact player or got good value.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:00pm

I don't know if Cam Newton was a no brainer (see Tainer's breakdown of his college play), but even one amazing move doesn't make a GM.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:17am

My Saints-supporting wife agrees, for similar reasons.

by William :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:21am

His one downfall was not committing more $ to RBs in this passing league...

by opticallog :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:43am

Obvious sarcasm guys

by andrew :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:54am

Well Cam said something had to change...

"I was corrupt before I had power!" - Random

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:09pm

This move was overdue. The ghosts of Otah/E Brown (and the resulting moves to kick sand over them) loom large on this 1 win team.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:37pm

Don't forget trading the future 1st overall pick in the second round to grab Armanti Edwards in the middle of the third round. That worked out GREAT.

EDIT - and by "middle of the third round" I mean pick #89. $#!+!

by Joseph :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:48pm

Dad-gum!! Now the Panthers might become competitive!
(Saints' fan sarcasm)

Regarding Hurney's actual work, like most GM's some of his picks worked, some didn't. The bad ones were the ones for Everette Brown and A. Edwards where he traded future draft picks for questionable players. I don't think that you should EVER trade future picks to grab a draft pick now. (I'm not talking about a "move-up" plus a pick or two like WAS did for RG3 or ATL did for Julio Jones, although they might have overpaid a little.)
Some of the contract extensions looked okay at the time, and didn't work out well at all.

by Trevor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:47pm

this move is at least 2 years late, he should have been walked when they let Fox go. at least he's gone now...

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:28pm

Its hard to really evaluate GMs because drafting is such a hit or miss affair. Think about how people viewed AJ smith during Sd's heyday and his reputation now? OR think about Rick Smith of the Texans and what his reputation was only two years ago and what it is today. You can add Trent Baalke to that list as well.

But there are other criteria as well and after reading Barnwell's article, its amazing how awful Hurney was at so many different things. We say the nfl is a copycat league, but its also painfully rigid and stupid too. Part of it is undoubtedly a result of the way the system is setup(in economics jargon, its not a perfectly competitive market because its a market that is inherently negative sum). But also part of it comes from the fact that success and failure is measured by wins and losses and we all know the problem measuring things that way.

I am curious, though, which other Gms need to go?

Here's my list:

Aj Smith- his crazy acrimony with players and staunch defense of Norv Tuner.

Gene Smith- I think gene smith is as bad as Hurney honestly.

Buddy Nix

Bruce Allen(though I suspect its mostly Snyder's doings and every other personnel man is just a figurehead).

I was tempted to add Tannenbaum on the back of that sanchez extension alone, but everyone has brain farts now and then.

by speedegg :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:44pm

Well, AJ Smith has a few hits and a bunch of misses. He was helped by a poor 2003 season where the team went 4-12, was able to draft high, drafted Eli Manning and traded with the Giants for Rivers and other picks.

The funny thing about Rick Smith and AJ Smith? One GM has Wade Phillips, the other doesn't. One team has a great defense, the other can't keep a 24 point lead. Maybe Phillips is better at communicated what he needs for his defense than other coaches. Or maybe AJ's "My way or the highway" doesn't work when he doesn't take input from the coaches.

by jackiel :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 7:22pm

Or maybe Wade Phillips is one of the best defensive coaches on the planet.

Note, the SD defense was much more productive when Phillips was the DC.

by speedegg :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:36pm

I think better DC than HC and knows how to talk to scouts and GMs.

After Phillips left, AJ Smith seemed robotic in his draft picks for defense and was more miss than hits.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:40pm

"Guys, we've got this NFL owner on the line who needs to find some way of not taking any blame for decisions he forced on his underlings, should I just send him the usual scapegoat package?"

by TomC :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:47pm

The funny thing is, if a few breaks (and questionable calls) had gone Carolina's way yesterday, you might be saying this about The Other Jerry, who was rumored to be quite close to throwing Boy Genius Jason Garrett to the wolves.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:54pm

Im in the minority, but I'm not sure why Jerry Jones is considered such a laughable gm. Cowboys are actually pretty talented, they've got good players at several layers. I think part of the issue is coaching which I guess is kind of Jerry Jone's fault, but still, i think he's done kind of well. The only horrible move was that trade for roy williams.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:03pm

"Cowboys are actually pretty talented, they've got good players at several layers."

Pretty much all brought in under Parcells.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:29pm

I guess that could be true. But lets just say, what has Jerry done specifically outside of the roy williams trade that has blown up in his face? If you want to hold him responsible for the hiring of garett or philips, then maybe. But otherwise, hes not exactly been a terrible gm.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:35pm

1994-2002 I think is all the evidence that's needed.

by 40oz to Freedom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:02pm

You mean drafting Quincy Carter was a mistake?

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 3:34pm

Firing Jimmy Johnson because of a pissing match?

Hiring Barry Switzer?

Hire Wade Phillips as a HC?

Guaranteeing Garret he'd be the HC so as not to lose him?

Not firing Garret on the spot after the debacle last week?

Drafting Felix Jones over Rashaad Mendenhall or Chris Johnson (the very next two picks)? Or Matt Forte. Or Ray Rice. Or Jamaal Charles (Holy crap, that was a loaded year for RBs!)

Just off the top of my head...

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by john_858 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:31pm

Agree with most of what was posted here. Hurney's list of 2nd - 4th round picks is a "who's who" of garbage. Anyone can make a 1st round pick. Most 5th -7th rounders are long shots to make the team. Dynasties are build in rounds 1-4 and through free agency. Hurney picked up no free agents in 2009 or 2010 and got only Olsen of note last year. Prior to that, you really have to go back to Ken Lucas for any free agency acquisitions of note in Hurney's tenure. Just the list of former USC wideout busts alone (Keyshawn, Colbert, Dwayne Jarrett) should have gotten him fired.

by Ryan D. :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:22am

To be fair to Hurney, the lack of moves in free agency in 2009 and 2010 were because of team owner Jerry Richardson. He didn't want to commit any new money toward contracts with the lockout looming. Once the lockout passed, Richardson opened up the check book, and Hurney wrote a lot of stupid checks.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 4:08am

Isn't "spending a ton of money on running backs as the NFL became more pass-centric" *almost* the right decision?

I mean the 49ers don't seem to have much of a pass offense, last year's Fox-led Denver team didn't seem to have much of a pass offense and they both won a playoff game.

I question whether you need to spend a ton of money on running backs, they're more fungible than was once believed, but hasn't Moneyball / Belichick shown us that you have to do something different, not try to beat them at their own game to be successful?

by Ryan D. :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 9:38am

Maybe beating the league with running might be close to the right decision if you think you're getting ahead of the curve, but tying up $80M to do it is glaringly stupid.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 3:10pm

Agreed - CJ2YPA has shown the fallacy of RB contracts

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Thu, 10/25/2012 - 10:36pm

As long as they don't hire Holmgren, this here Panther fan is thrilled. I live in Charlotte now, seriously, so lemme go edit my resume...

by melaaniesmith (not verified) :: Wed, 03/06/2013 - 5:19am

this is how I would like to do and for sure I have the right to do on what's best too. I like it then. This is just what i would like to do.
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