Tom Sorensen

Who in Panthers organization is safe? If they don’t win, list is down to 1 name

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired his general manager eight days before training camp. With that as a baseline, who could feel safe?
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired his general manager eight days before training camp. With that as a baseline, who could feel safe? AP

The Carolina Panthers are not frivolous about hires. Walk though Bank of America Stadium and you’ll encounter several employees who have been with the team since before they played their first game in 1995.

But I wonder how safe some of those jobs are. Who has to win this season?

Ron Rivera has been a superior coach, twice the NFL Coach of the Year. See him around the players and it’s evident they respect him. Even when his team struggled in his early seasons, they finished well. That’s a testament to respect. We’ve all seen teams collectively lie down when the playoffs are out of reach. Rivera’s teams don’t.

But after the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman last week, whose job is safe?

All the reasons we’ve heard for his dismissal on and off the record are various shades of vague. He was gruff, he was tough and he often told players and their agents what they didn’t want to hear. In some organizations, that gets you a raise.

Gettleman’s dismissal is an indicator of what will happen if the Panthers don’t win this season.

Owner Jerry Richardson turned 81 on July 11. Although he does not make spontaneous and emotional personnel decisions he will later regret, I would not describe him as patient.

Other people who would not describe him as patient include everybody who has ever worked for him.

The Panthers lack a president, lost their defensive coordinator, lost their general manager and in Hurney hired a new/old general manager. This week they fired pro scouting director Mark Koncz, a Carolina lifer who was well liked in the building. Collect the whole set.

But not one of those openings offers the Panthers an excuse to fail.

If they don’t win this season, I’d expect major changes regardless of who the owner is.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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