A pouty Cam Newton may not be winning many games but he certainly has emerged victorious in the power struggle within the Carolina Panthers organization.
The morning after a sulking Newton bemoaned to reporters that things had to "change," they did. And in a big way.
Obviously heeding Newton's fine whine, the Panthers wasted little time in firing longtime general manager Marty Hurney, sending him packing Monday morning in the wake of a 19-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, dropping Carolina's record to 1-5. Hurney had been at the helm of the Panthers since 2002, a roller-coaster tenure that included a heartbreaking last-second loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
"I am responsible for everybody in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in football operations," Hurney said in a statement. "After six weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10 season."
Good on Hurney for being accountable for the Panthers' struggles. It's about time Newton did the same.
Four of the Panthers' losses have come by seven points or fewer. Had Newton put up just one more score in any of those games, it would have boosted Carolina's miserable record.
Newton may not have thrown Hurney under the bus with his "something has to change" line on Sunday. But he certainly pushed him towards it.
Hurney's mistake was his inability to surround Newton with better skill.
After finishing 6-10 a year ago, the Panthers did little to improve the team's talent base other than bringing in running back Mike Tolbert. Why? With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart already in the mix, this was the one position, along with quarterback, at which the Panthers already seemed set.
In the end, that was one of Hurney's glaring gaffes, especially since there were so many other holes on the roster that needed to be filled.
At the same time, underachieving coach Ron Rivera must accept part of the blame, too, so much so that his job should be on the line as well.
"I always feel like I'm coaching for my job," Rivera told the Charlotte Observer Monday.
In Stewart and Williams, the Panthers have $79-million US in salaries locked up, $44-million of which is guaranteed. While that ridiculous sum is far too much for one position, Rivera seems reluctant to use those players.
If a quarterback's best friend is the running game, then why did Rivera chose to have them rush the ball only a combined 12 times for 39 yards against the Cowboys? That game plan certainly is not helping the young franchise quarterback.
While Newton needs to mature, he knows heís not going anywhere.
The same can't be said for Rivera, who is just 6-15 as the Panthers head coach.
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