Is Dave Gettleman really to blame?

There is a popular article floating around currently from Yahoo Sports that seems to have lit a fire under the collective butts of Carolina Panthers fans. All of a sudden Panthers GM Dave Gettleman has gone from a man who saved the Panthers from salary cap hell and delivered a NFC Championship to a guy that is to blame for all of Carolina’s problems. All of this, in a matter of weeks. That seems rather harsh. Let us inspect the article by Charles Robinson and see if it rings true.

“In the eyes of the Panthers, Norman was an imperfect match. He lacked elite speed. He had a colorful disposition and attitude. He was expensive. At the end of the day, the argument was they couldn’t give a player like that a franchise cornerback deal.”

In the eyes of the Carolina Panthers, Norman was a perfect match. Norman was well liked in the locker room and front office, despite what this article implies. In fact, the Carolina Panthers did franchise Josh Norman. However, when the Panthers could not get close to a long term contract agreement and a holdout was looming, Dave Gettleman decided to rip the band aid off of the situation before the draft.

“They tried (and failed) to get a long-term deal done with Kawann Short. Mostly, they planned for the future – 2017, 2018, 2019 – because in Gettleman’s book, you can’t deviate from the long-term outlook.”

While it is true that they tried to get a long term deal done with Short, there was no reason to panic and overpay. Short is now in a contract year and can be franchised for two additional years at could could be a lower price tag that a long term deal would have costed. The Panthers had nothing to lose by waiting another year.

“a 1-3 team that is looking like an inconsistent facsimile of the Super Bowl edition; a pair of subpar offensive tackles; a thin and mediocre set of running backs;”

Everything he just described here went 17-2 just last season. This claim doesn’t come close to holding up.

“and a defensive secondary that is seemingly only as good as the front seven makes it”

Absolutely correct here. However, this has always been the case in Carolina.

“And lest we forget the plan – a roster that is almost $19 million below the salary cap. That’s great for later, but it isn’t paying big dividends right now.”

That 19 million rolls over to next season when Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell, and Kony Ealy are due for contracts, all become unrestricted free agents after next season. The Carolina Panthers had an amazing 2014 draft that has for three seasons given them three starters at minimal salaries. Now it is time to pay up, and that 19 million will be much needed to do so. Without it, there would be no hope of keeping the interior offensive line together and keep Kawann Short long term. Thanks to the CBA, the Panthers have a 5th year option to exercise on Kelvin Benjamin.

“Ask other pro personnel evaluators about Oher, who was out with a concussion Sunday. What they tell you is this: He’s a mediocre player who is viewed by the Panthers as serviceable largely because he doesn’t require an elite left tackle salary. He is cost-efficient. Sound familiar? And right tackle Mike Remmers, who filled in for Oher on Sunday? One personnel evaluator told Yahoo Sports on Sunday that Remmers likely wouldn’t be a starting tackle for most other NFL teams.”

Again, this tackle duo went 17-2 last year in an offense that ranked 1st in scoring. Does a 1-3 record now erase that? Hardly.

The article ends with….

“The Panthers seem to have gotten a little worse since the Super Bowl loss. The cap space is in great shape, but parts of the team aren’t. Surely there’s some kind of lesson inside that.”

I think this is fair, but not for the reasons he is implying. The team has gotten a little worse, but outside of trading Norman for Bradberry, I don’t feel it is a personnel issue. The Panthers’ offense has been anemic this season but has actually improved in talent over the Superbowl squad with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin. If the offense cannot stay on the field, the defense will suffer, and suffer it has.

What is actually wrong with the Panthers? Well, a little bit of everything. Poor execution, poor coaching, lack of enthusiasm. There is plenty of blame to go around here. The good news is that the personnel issues described in the article cited above are largely overblown. The issues remaining are correctable as the season moves on.




Jeremy Igo is owner of Carolina Huddle. Based in Charlotte, he has covered the Carolina Panthers for over a decade.