The firing of Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman came as a surprise to just about everyone on Monday. People will say that the warning signs were there and that there were whispers, but anyone saying that they 100 percent knew this was coming just watched their nose magically grow.
Say what you want about Gettleman, but no one can deny the fact that he left the Panthers in better shape than when he inherited them in 2013.
He made decisions that upset the fan base. No one liked seeing him say goodbye to Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, and Josh Norman. But, last offseason aside, he always looked to improve the team.
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to Gettleman’s firing. You’re either on the side of the players and still hold the last offseason against him. Or you understand that football is a business and tough decisions have to be made.
Neither side is wrong.
If you were unhappy with the way Gettleman treated guys like Steve Smith, Josh Norman, and DeAngelo Williams and worried how he would treat Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis, I get it.
Jerry Richardson preaches “football is family” and there’s a reason why former players attacked Gettleman while remaining on good terms with Richardson.
As fans, we grow attached to the players, not the general managers, coaching staff, or owners.
Steve Smith is my favorite Panther of all-time. I wasn’t happy when he was released. But I also recognized that he was 35-years-old and the team needed more cap flexibility.
Being excited that Smith and Williams can now retire as Panthers and being even more excited over Davis and Olsen getting new contracts is understandable. I’m excited for all four of those things.
If you hold last offseason against Gettleman, I understand. He royally screwed up last offseason. He watched the team go 15-1, lose in the Super Bowl, and decided, “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.” Except, he didn’t leave it alone, he removed parts. Rescinding Josh Norman’s tag was a mistake. But the bigger mistake was betting on front seven pressure without addressing the need for an edge rusher.
Last season’s fall was more than just, “The Panthers don’t have Josh Norman.” Gettleman deserves a lot of blame for banking on a number of players to once again have a career year and for not recognizing areas of weakness that were noticeable despite the 17-2 record.
To his credit, he was proactive this offseason. He drafted more playmakers for Cam Newton. He brought in productive veterans on both sides of the ball. He addressed every offseason need that everyone was begging for him to address when the season ended.
He should have been given a chance to see his work through. If God forbid, this season turns out to be worse than last season, let the guy go. But believing a guy should be fired after one losing season following three straight division titles is short-sighted.
How you feel about Gettleman’s firing is not wrong. He angered fans with a lot of his decisions, but he also produced the best four year stretch in team history. Neither can or should, be ignored.
We won’t know if this was a good decision until two years from now. This is still Gettleman’s roster, and he deserves the credit or the blame for how things play out on the field this year.
By Jeremy Lambert
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for latest Panthers news and opinions from fan perspective.