“I hope this change starts accomplishing the direction to those goals,” Hurney said. “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.”
“Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games,” Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said. “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.”
Defensive end Charles Johnson, the team’s highest-paid player, said on Twitter: “Marty wasn’t the reason we are losing! … Unbelievable!”
Carolina’s last playoff victory came in 2005 when it reached the NFC championship game before losing at Seattle. The Panthers appeared to turn things around in 2008 when they won the NFC South and earned a first-round bye before getting upset 33-13 at home by the Arizona Cardinals. They haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
Hurney’s philosophy has been to build through the draft and re-sign proven players rather than going after high-priced free agents. But the team wasted a number of high draft picks through the years.
The personnel blunder fans that angered fans most was giving 34-year-old quarterback Jake Delhomme a five-year, $42.5 million contract months after he turned over the ball over six times in the playoff loss to Arizona.
Delhomme started 2009 with a five-turnover game against Philadelphia and was cut after the season. Delhomme cost the Panthers $12 million under the salary cap in 2009 even though he was no longer on the roster.
Eric Shelton, Dwayne Jarrett, Jimmy Clausen and Everette Brown were all drafted in the second round, but failed to meet expectations. Brown, in particular, was a costly choice in 2009 because the Panthers gave up their first-round pick the following year to San Francisco to get him. Brown lasted only two seasons in Carolina.
Hurney also was criticized for giving big contracts to keep the team’s core intact following a 2-14 season in 2010.
He did well with first-round draft picks Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, Jonathan Stewart, Chris Gamble and Newton, last year’s No. 1 overall pick.
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.
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