Coaching/GM Notes: Hurney, Lewis, Morris, Lynn, Gettleman

The Panthers made a big splash Monday by firing GM Marty Hurney. Although the timing was interesting since Carolina’s season will be over in just a couple of weeks, it wasn’t the result of any sudden developments or changes. The move had apparently been in the works for a while, as Albert Breer of was told that Hurney was in the final year of his contract and that he and owner David Tepper had been talking about an exit for weeks now (Twitter link). Breer adds that the analytics-minded Tepper wants to “modernize” the personnel side. As for names to keep an eye on for the now vacant role, Breer tweets that 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters is one to watch. Peters played for Panthers head coach Matt Rhule back when Rhule was the defensive line coach at UCLA.

It sounds like Tepper knows more or less what he wants, and accordingly the relatively new owner told the media on Monday he won’t be using an outside search firm like some teams for the GM opening. To clarify on the modernization, David Newton of reiterates that the Panthers will look for a new GM who “is driven by data and analytics, characteristics that didn’t define” Hurney. Carolina seems to have found their coach of the future with Rhule but they’ve still got plenty of questions to address moving forward, like whether or not Teddy Bridgewater is the long-term answer under center. Who they hire here should tell us a lot about the direction they plan to take.

Now that we’ve broken down most of the Hurney fallout, let’s pivot to the rest of the front office and coaching staff talk around the league:

  • Former Texans GM Rick Smith looks like a hot candidate this cycle. Smith recently interviewed with the Falcons, and sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that he’ll interview with the Lions soon. That’s not all, as sources also told La Canfora that Washington is interested in having Smith run their football operations. We heard back in January that Washington almost hired Smith before electing not to hire a front office head for the time being, so this isn’t too surprising. VP of player personnel Kyle Smith is currently overseeing things for Washington, but sources told La Canfora that the team is “very likely to fill a traditional general manager spot” this offseason. Smith left Houston after the 2017 season when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and is generally well regarded around the league.
  • Speaking of guys looking to get back into the league after a hiatus, we might not have seen the last of Marvin Lewis. The former long-time Bengals coach is “under consideration for several head coaching opportunities in 2021,” sources told La Canfora. Lewis was never able to make a deep playoff run in Cincy, but he undeniably did an incredible job turning them from a perennial laughing stock and doormat to annual contender in the AFC North for a while. After spending an impressive 16 season roaming the Bengals’ sideline, he’s spent the past couple years on Herm Edwards’ staff at Arizona State. La Canfora writes that “numerous teams have indicated an interest in speaking to Lewis,” although he doesn’t specifically name any. Lewis reportedly received strong interest from both the Cowboys and Washington during last year’s cycle, and it sounds like this could be the year he makes it back in.
  • Finally, a few notes via Tony Pauline of The Falcons managed to turn their season around a bit after firing Dan Quinn, although things have started to go off the rails again in recent weeks. The initial success led to some buzz that interim coach and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris could be a candidate for the full-time job, although Pauline throws some cold water on that. Pauline says there’s a “very slight chance” they keep Morris, noting people who he has talked to won’t completely rule it out. That being said, he hears that Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy is still at the top of their list.
  • Anthony Lynn and the Chargers have now won back to back games, but Pauline writes he’ll need a “miracle” to save his job. One source he talked to put the odds of Lynn returning at 20 percent, and he writes that’s a best-case scenario for the embattled Los Angeles coach. Lynn has made a number of high profile game management blunders in recent weeks, and Pauline writes the consensus of “well-connected” people is that he’ll be fired. With a talented roster and a stud young quarterback in Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ job should be an attractive one.
  • While a lot of these decisions already appear to be more or less set in stone, Pauline says that Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s status is genuinely undecided and up in the air. He writes that it’ll depend on what happens the rest of the year (presumably whether the G-Men win the NFC East), and that there’s been no “definitive decision.” However, Pauline does say that as of right now he hears the Giants are “more comfortable” getting rid of Gettleman and bringing in someone new to work alongside first-year coach Joe Judge, who people inside the building are apparently “ecstatic” about. As one that could seemingly go either way, the situation in New York will be one of the most interesting to monitor the last couple weeks. What happens with Gettleman could also very well determine whether the team runs it back with Daniel Jones or looks for a new quarterback this offseason.
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16 comments on “Coaching/GM Notes: Hurney, Lewis, Morris, Lynn, Gettleman

    • tank62

      I know right. A hall of famer passes away and they can’t be bothered to report on it

  1. Simmons>Russ

    In the Robert Saleh article it said Adrian Peters and Saleh are really good pals and if Saleh left he would try bring Peters with him.

    Panthers obviously have Rhule as head coach who has a relationship with Peters. If Peters comes in as GM, I think he’d bring Saleh in as DC which would be a great move for the Panthers.

    I think having a coaching staff of Joe Brady, Robert Saleh under Rhule and Peters would make for a great group. Especially at the start of the rebuild which the panthers are doing. If they don’t win anymore games this season they could end up with the 4th overall pick which means potentially getting someone like Justin Fields.
    Fields would be a great franchise QB add to that the games best RB, two good revivers in Moore and Anderson. Last draft all they took was defensive players and the defence does look a lot better you take a QB at the top of this draft and do well in the offseason your going to having a winning season next year

    • Simmons>Russ

      Too add to that, in their division the Falcons look to be starting a potential rebuild. The Buccs are nice but Brady doesn’t have long and when he goes Gronk goes again, OJ Howard is leaving this offseason, Antonio Brown will be gone and they will be looking for a franchise QB. Plus lastly the Saints they look very good but I wonder if Brees retiring soon will have an effect.
      Either way Panthers have the chance to establish themselves as the future of this division.

      Hopefully they have these calls

      • Ak185

        It would be highly unusual for Saleh to move into another DC role, particularly in a place where he never succeed the current coach and has a much less talented defense overall. If he leaves, he is getting promoted. The question is whether Peters joins Saleh or Rhule.

        I would expect Saleh wins that bet. It’s just a better situation for Peters to come in fresh with another coach to create a strategy, and not be attached to an established one.

  2. DarkSide830

    its not a good sign when your team immediately gets mentioned as a suitor for a guy who just got fired.

  3. I don’t understand how Gettleman’s fate is still up in the air. If they manage to squeak into the playoffs as the division winner, so what? The Giants have been abysmal with him as GM.

    He’s made a couple of good moves (Blake Martinez and Bradberry, partial credit for Leonard Williams as they could have just signed him as a FA and not given up a 3rd rounder, the OBJ trade looks better in hindsight), but he’s mostly whiffed in free agency* and totally blew it on Daniel Jones and DeAndre Baker (and possibly Andrew Thomas, though he is getting better). How this is even a conversation is beyond me. They finally seem like they have their first good coach since Coughlin, Gettleman has to go.

    *Nate Solder, James Stewart, Kareem Martin, Antoine Bethea, Patrick Omemeh, Golden Tate, and myriad lesser signings.

    • wagner13

      Agreed. If you’re leaving the fate of the general manager’s job up to winning the worst division in football, said manager clearly isn’t strong enough to lead the franchise to success. Judge has been outstanding; find someone to complement his ability

    • Ak185

      Because Gettleman has also accounted for their successes. You’re right about the failures, you are, but it’s not the entire story. Their defense is finally where it was supposed to be, and they finally have a good head coach. Gettleman has made some poor moves, but he hasn’t been as much of an abject failure as has been advertised. The real question, the one that his fate will be tied to, is of course Daniel Jones. If you keep Jones, you keep Gettleman. If you jettison Jones, Gettleman was wrong.

      The thing here for Gettleman is this: he made all of the right moves, and picked the wrong people to fulfill those expectations. We know some obvious examples. He needed a left tackle, badly-so he signed Solder. Soldier of course turned out to not be close to the player he was expected to be. Gettleman needed a corner, so he drafted Baker. Baker of course turned out terribly. Williams is finally, at the eleventh hour, paying off. Tate I never thought much of, but he was okay for a while and the Giants did need a receiver. They still do, despite Slayton’s emergence (which you could give Gettleman credit for).

      This is why Gettleman is up in the air. He’s had some high profile failures, but his plan is finally starting to bear fruit. However, that fruit is still questionable itself. There are still some areas that need addressing, and the final and most crucial piece of the puzzle is also the most obvious one: Jones. I’m not necessarily defending Gettleman, but I do think that he hasn’t been as personally responsible for the Giants’ struggles as he’s been blamed. For that reason I can see why his fate is still up in the air. Honestly, I think Judge’s input is the most important piece of information in making that judgement. How does he feel about Jones’ future? How does he feel about Gettleman’s strategy? Judge is the most secure piece of the equation. His evaluation, therefore, is pretty important.

      • wagner13

        Yeah, I suppose I came off as overly critical. However, I was a never a huge fan of some of his moves even at the time. He traded up for Baker when he probably didn’t need to. He didn’t trade down for Jones when the former Duke Blue Devil was a fringe top fifteen pick at best. The Tate contract was a clear overpay. Worst of all, he over prioritizes run defense when 75% of that is scheme and coaching.

        He’s not an obvious candidate to be let go and he has made some positive moves (Bradberry, Peppers), but there are better options in my personal opinion

      • @Ak185: you make some decent points but the bottom line is this: they’re 14-32 with him as the GM. The only reason they’re even in the conversation for the playoffs is that the NFC East has been historically bad.

        All GMs have ‘successes’ and ‘failures’. Even the worst GMs out there hit on some players. Gettleman’s failures outnumber his successes in both quantity and degree. imo, the reason they’re not 2-12 right now is because of the coaching staff (Judge and Graham in particular). Gettleman has, overall, not done a good job.

        The reason this should not even be a discussion and his firing a mere formality is 14-32. They could very easily lose the remaining two games this year and next year doesn’t look much better. Bringing Gettleman back is unjustifiable at this point.

        • Ak185

          I do acknowledge what both of you are saying. I do. But when letting someone walk the question really should be “who can we get who is better?” Instead of “how bad has the guy we been that have?” If the guy is bad, well, it’s a pretty easy question to answer. It gets muddy in cases like this, where the guy does enough at the last second to make you pause and consider.

          I would agree but two things give me pause. Have the Giants made a decision on Daniel Jones? That has to come first. If Jones is done as the franchise starter, then it’s an acknowledgement that Gettleman was wrong and that he had enough chances to succeed. If they keep him and dump Gettleman, it’s essentially admiring that his signature pick was correct, and he was just being due to pressure. Jones will always be tied to Gettleman because Gettleman went so far out of his way to get him. That issue should be resolved first. Like I said, this is how I can see how his fate is still up in air-because Jones’ is as well.

          The second thing is this: the team was in pretty bad shape when Gettleman showed up. This was a process that, even if Gettleman did not screw up anything, was going to take a long time. Gettleman missed on a few big decisions in filling the holes, which prolonged that process. The biggest thing he did to slow the growth of this team though has to be the coaches he picked before Judge. He deserves blame for that as well as his own mistakes. But the thing that gives the Giants pause here is that now, after the years of his being in charge, there are finally signs of improvement. Do you fire him now, after the team appears to at last be trending upward in terms of coaching and player potential? Again, a lot of this has to depend on what your decision is regarding Jones.

          I can see another year to prove it. Really, this upcoming draft is going to be difficult to prepare for as is. As of now, the Giants are winning the division down their only generational player (Barkley). Their coach (who himself was a major dark horse that the media/fans disliked-not sure how much credit Gettleman deserves for hiring him) finally looks to have the team trending forward. It’s late in coming, but Gettleman finally has picks/signings that have potential. If this year hadn’t shown any growth, I wouldn’t be able to understand why he’d be kept. But as of now, his work has left enough to make it a toss up. Honestly though, as we all know, Gettleman probably would not be getting as many chances as he has if he wasn’t familiar with ownership.

  4. lettersandnumbersonly

    In order to excel in the NFL you need someone in the GM spot or with a main voice in personnel decision making that hits the majority of the time and occasionally hits one out of the park.
    There are few of those. You can look to the teams that are constantly in the playoffs. The league is filled with mediocre GMs with a lot of constant turnover. Gettleman is one of those mehhh GMs as Reese was before him. Enough hits to keep them on for a few years but ultimately, it’s time to go.
    It’s Judge’s time now, and I want someone who sees the team’s future as Judge does.
    And one strong enough to keep Mara out of the kitchen and grocery shopping.

  5. crosseyedlemon

    Panthers will look for a new GM who “is driven by data and analytics, characteristics that didn’t define” Hurney.

    Analytics can’t measure character, determination and the will to succeed, so I would be hesitant to jump on that bandwagon.

    • Ak185

      Agreed there. Not to dismiss the usefulness of analytics, of course, but things that might just sound like cheesiness really do matter in the end too.

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