This is the official Carolina Panthers press release discussing the firing of General Manager Marty Hurney Monday morning:
Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson announced Monday that General Manager Marty Hurney has been relieved of his duties. Hurney had been general manager of the Panthers since 2002.
“This was an extremely difficult decision,” said Richardson. “Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games. Unfortunately, we have not enjoyed the success we hoped for in recent years. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Marty and will always appreciate the way he tirelessly served the organization.”
Hurney was general manager when the Panthers went to the 2003 Super Bowl and the NFC championship games in the 2003 and 2005 seasons as well as winning the NFC South Division in 2008.
“I am very fortunate to have been a part of one of the best organizations in the NFL since 1998,” says Hurney. “As General Manager I will always regret not helping us win the Super Bowl or having back-to-back winning seasons. I hope this change starts accomplishing the direction to those goals. I understand this decision by Mr. Richardson and will always have an extremely close relationship with him. I consider him the best owner in the NFL. I am responsible for everybody in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in football operations. After six weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10 season.”
Last week, we did very well against the spread, which is hard to do. This column hopefully gives you a little insight to Week 6, starting with Thursday night’s game going through Monday night. Enjoy!
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL:
Pitt -6 at Tennessee: The Steelers are 2-2 and need to not lose more games if they are going to contend (beat) Baltimore for the AFC North title. This is an eminently winnable game on the road. Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to break Terry Bradshaw’s career passing yards record for the franchise (needs 300 yards). The Steelers prevail.
Baltimore -3.5 over Dallas: Because the game is in Baltimore, I like the ravens. The Cowboys have not been very good this year…2-2…or this century…98-98 (regular season). Surprisingly, people still like Tony Romo, who is a good, but not great quarterback. His best target, Dez Bryant, is not consistent. I like Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith and company more. Baltimore has a 13-game winning streak at M&T Stadium in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore! It grows to 14 Sunday.
Indianapolis +3 at New York Jets: I’d like it more if the Colts were the home team, but against the Jets, coming off a highly-emotional game Monday night (close loss to Houston)…dealing with the Tim Tebow thing…and the chaos it has created (wow…didn’t see THAT coming…), Indy keeps plugging along and wins a close one. The Jets are a beat-up team and offensively-challenged. No receivers for the quarterbacks (and how much confidence do you think Mark Sanchez has today?) to throw to. Against Houston, at times it looked like they just grabbed a couple of guys from the stands. Personally, I would put Tebow in for every offensive snap. The guy just has something…he certainly isn’t an NFL-type quarterback (he would be great in Canada), but he is a bull. We might get more Tebow this week, but the Colts are playing much better than I would have thought.
Tampa Bay -4 over Kansas City: I would have gone the other way if Matt Cassel had not suffered a concussion last week in the Chiefs 9-6 loss to the Ravens…but Brady Quinn starting for the first time in four years is a stretch. He gets a chance to play against a not-so-good team, and that’s a plus. For the Bucs, Josh Freeman (54.6% pass completion) needs to get better…and fast. He has really regressed from his play of last season. He needs to find his receivers, including the outstanding Vincent Jackson, more. Let’s just go with the Bucs and see what happens.
Cincinnati PK at Cleveland: Should not be a contest. Their defense is porous…940 yards allowed in the last two weeks. Yes, Joe Haden is back at corner, but Andy Dalton will make the right throws for the Bengals. Oh, offensively, the Browns need to stop making mistakes…including the nine interceptions from rookie QB Brandon Weeden (who turned 29 this week, by the way).
Detroit +4 at Philadelphia: This will be a good one…should be under a field goal, which is why I like Detroit getting 3.5 points. Underachieving is a good word for the Lions this season. With Minnesota already at 4-1, they cannot afford many more losses. The Leos get safety Louis Delmas back nine weeks after knee surgery, so hopefully he can shore up the defense. Matthew Stafford needs to start playing like he did last year and stop the INT’s. As for Michael Vick, we know he’ll get hit…a lot…and he, too, is facing crunch time. Too many INT’s, not enough TD’s.
Miami -3 over St. Louis: I’m liking Ryan Tannehill more and more each week. I thought the Dolphins would win two games all year…they already have. The Rams have won 3…but the Fins lost two games by three points, so basically, with a win Sunday, they could have been 5-1. Not bad for a rookie QB.
Atlanta -9 over Oakland: Not the A’s…the Raiders are off to another slow start. The Falcons off to a 5-0 start. Matt Ryan has been on fire…the Falcons defense is very tough. It all adds up to a nice afternoon in the Georgia Dome for the soon-to-be 6-0 Falcons.
Arizona -4.5 over Buffalo: The NFL must like Arizona. Their schedule includes a home game against the Bills. I have to go with the Cardinals defense over the Bills offense…especially in the desert. Close, but not 4.5 points close. A touchdown to 10 points close for the home team.
Seattle +3.5 over New England: Another home pick…but the noise level in CenturyLink Field, well, you saw what it did to the Packers a couple of weeks ago. Seattle’s defense has speed and their corners are huge. Tom Brady will be running for his life Sunday, and, in what is, believe it or not, his first trip to Seattle, he will be glad to get out of there. Bruce Irvin is football’s fastest speed rusher, so be careful, Tom. Seattle, and diminutive Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (generously listed at 5’11”) is a winner and he will be happy to get 3.5 points! (Not that he is a gambling man…)
Washington -1.5 over Minnesota: Let’s be clear about this…both teams have quarterbacks they are happy with. Christian Ponder, whom many felt was drafter way too high two seasons ago, has proven his critics wrong. Robert Griffin III, whom many felt was drafted exactly right (just behind Andrew Luck) has proven his critics wrong…and right. They said a running quarterback would be hit a lot. And they are right. He was knocked out of last Sunday’s game, but is ready to play this week. I like the Skins at home in this one.
San Francisco -6 over New York Giants: I rarely pick against Eli Manning…he is 24-5 in October and is a flat-out winner. He has played well in Candlestick Park – remember him from last January being beaten and battered and still keeping the G-Men in a game they had no business even showing up for. I think the Niners are a little better this time as well…Alex Smith has a lot of weapons to use and the Giants secondary is not up to par health-wise. San Francisco by a TD.
Green Bay +3 at Houston: The Packers are getting a little bit of a break Sunday night in Houston. The Texans (5-0) struggled against the New York Jets Monday night. Now, they come back home, on a short week (but at least it is the night game), without inside linebacker and their signal-caller, Brian Cushing, who is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered against the Jets. I see Aaron Rodgers, who hopefully can evade Houston’s outstanding rush, hitting his targets and, despite the loss of Cedric Benson, leading the desperate Pack to a big, big win. Close score, but a big win nevertheless.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL:
Denver +1 at San Diego: I love the way Peyton Manning is playing. He has begun to throw more 20+ yard passes and is completing them than earlier this season. He is on pace to throw for more yards, 4,797, than he ever has, and is projected to throw 35 touchdown passes (which would be his second-most). I like the fact that the Broncos get a point on the road…I like them by a touchdown!
Just when the Carolina Panthers thought it the season couldn’t get any worse, it has. After avoiding major injuries all season long, the league’s highest-paid center, Ryan Kalil, is out for the season, in a move just announced by head coach Ron Rivera.
Kalil has a Lisfranc injury to his left foot that will require surgery and he has been placed on the injured reserve list. A Lisfranc injury is in the midfoot, and pretty painful from what I hear. The recovery is 8-12 weeks.
Rivera said the injury occurred before halftime of the Seattle game on Sunday. His foot was re-taped and Kalil continued to play.
“It’s unfortunate. He was having a terrific year in spite of our situation,” Rivera said. “Individually, he was doing great. We’re just going to hope for the best and we’ll go from there.”
“He’s certainly one of the emotional leaders and it’s hard to replace those kind of guys,” Rivera said. “But the truth of the matter is, it’s time for us as a team to step up anyway. And this is another one of those things that’s going to try us. That’s why we keep guys as back-up players. Now they’ve got their opportunity.”
Rivera said the team may look outside the organization for help on the offensive line.
Kalil took out an ad in the Charlotte Observer at the start of training camp promising the city a Super Bowl. The team wore shirts saying, “We have Ryan Kalil’s back” to show their support of the outlandish promise (at least today it looks outlandish). He is an emotional leader and will be missed by the team. His spot at center will be taken by guard Geoff Hangartner, who has starting experience. Jeff Byers and Garry Williams will compete for the guard position.
My NFL predictions for week 5 include rivalry games and upsets. The week began Thursday night with the St. Louis Rams for knocking the Arizona Cardinals out of the ranks of the undefeated. Now is the time when we will begin to really see which teams are contenders…and which are pretenders. The tone has been set…these teams are who we thought they were…to quote former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green…Now onto week five predictions.
Is this Rivalry Week in the League? Well, not quite. But we have a battle of Southwest Conference quarterbacks (Andy Dalton vs. Ryan Tannehill), an interstate match-up (Philadelphia at Pittsburgh) and a rivalry going into its 13th game (Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning), although with one new team (Denver) playing New England this time.
Here’s how I see these games, using the average point spread:
PITTSBURGH -3 over Philadelphia: I think Pitt comes out and crushes the Iggles, even though Big Ben takes a few shots. His O-line needs to help him, but Philadelphia has Jason Babin and Trent Cole, both of whom will get to Ben. Philly has not beaten the Stillers in 8 years. It continues Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS +7 over Green Bay: Packers WR Greg Jennings is not playing…that can’t be good for the Pack. And, this is your one chance to see Andrew Luck vs. Aaron Rodgers for years, barring a Super Bowl appearance. And the Colts will be playing very hard for Chuck Pagano, missing due to treatment for leukemia…Advantage COLTS.
ATLANTA -2-1/2 over Washington: Hate to pick against RG3, but he has not seen a defense like Atlanta’s this year…or ever. I have been watching him for years, and knew he’d be good…but he has been brilliant (one interception, 69.4 completion rate, 103.2 rating), and this would be a great spot to add to his record. Matt Ryan is playing his best football ever…plays well under pressure…and will make more plays Sunday for the Falcons to cover.
CINCINNATI -3 over Miami: Ryan Tannehill has been quietly improving each week. No doubt, this kid can play. He makes good, smart throws…his receivers, on the other hand, fail to help him in many situations. Andy Dalton for the Bengals will show Tannehill how it’s done in the NFL.
BALTIMORE -6 over KC: Orioles Magic switches over to their stadium neighbors, the Ravens. This team has championship written all over it…or at least a deep run in the playoffs.
CLEVELAND +10 over the NY Football Giants: Shocking, I know, but have you seen Brandon Weeden? If he gets time, and the line keeps opening holes for Trent Richardson, the team in Orange helmets will keep it closer than the Giants fans want it to be…Not saying they will win, but I’ll take the 10 points this time out.
SEATTLE +3 over Carolina (Not really sure on this one…the Panthers had a nice game in Atlanta last weekend, but just came up short (Matty Ice destroyed their defenders on that last 90-yard drive)…Will be watching the players list to see who will NOT play for Carolina…And, this is Russell Wilson’s homecoming game…
CHICAGO -4-1/2 over Jacksonville: Trap game for the Bears? A let-down is inevitable coming off their emotional destruction of the Cowgirls in Dallas. Jay Cutler will have plenty of time to throw…Jax has only had a league-low 2 sacks.
DENVER +7-1/2 over New England: Upset special…Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Brady is 8-4 against Manning…just don’t think Peyton is not thinking about that. I think it can be a close game…maybe 3-6 points, which is why I like Denver…but I wouldn’t bet the house on it (unless you are upside-down…).
SAN FRANCISCO -9-1/2 over Buffalo: The Bills have a great defensive line – on paper – but they are allowing 4.8 yards per carry…and they give up 286 yards passing. The Niners are good…really good. Buffalo, as you saw against New England, can be bad…really bad. That being said, I really don’t like giving 10 points…but in this case I feel it’s a good bet.
MINNESOTA -5-1/2 over Tennessee: Yes, I am a believer in Minnesota now. The Titans give up too much on defense…and I don’t think AP will be stopped. If he is, the Vikes’ passing game will not be.
NEW ORLEANS -3-1/2 over San Diego: I just think the presence of all the banned coaches FINALLY being in the same building as Drew Brees will have some kind of karma-like effect on the Saints. They can’t go 0-5, can they? At home? NO!
EARLY MONDAY PICK:
HOUSTON -8 over the New York Jets: Yep, Houston is the cream of the crop, along with the Ravens, and the Jets, well, they’re the Jets. Unless Tebow plays more, this team has no offense…no line…they’re a mess. It’s like Rex Ryan hates offense so much, he just won’t play any. HEADLINE: Rex – it’s 2012…the forward pass is in play and no one uses fullbacks anymore. Use the rules the NFL has put in place to your advantage. This is my Lock-of-the-Week!