Dave Gettleman is Dave not David. He's said to be unpretentious. He’s a worker, a grinder and an NFL lifer. He once lived in Buffalo, so he probably doesn’t drive a Maserati, Ferrari or a Porsche.
Is he the right general manager?
Dave Gettleman fits the Carolina Panthers prototype.
He’s Dave not David. He's said to be unpretentious. He’s a worker, a grinder and an NFL lifer. He's worked in the league 25 years, the past 14 for the New York Giants. He once lived in Buffalo, so he probably doesn’t drive a Maserati, Ferrari or a Porsche.
Is he the right general manager?
I have no idea, and neither do you. We won’t know for several drafts and for several seasons.
General managers are not like coaches, whom we know, or at least believe we do. We certainly know Ron Rivera, whom Panther owner Jerry Richardson decided to retain last week. Rivera coached the Panthers the last two seasons. We know some of what he can do and some of what he can’t.
We know the coaches Carolina could have courted – Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Denver offensive coordinator and former Panthers quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy and, for those who require celebrities, TV commentator/coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden.
General managers aren’t so apparent. They do their work not on the sidelines, or in front of the cameras, but behind closed doors. Who did they draft? Which free-agents did they sign? How did they manage the salary cap?
The Panthers are more than $15 million above the cap. Gettleman’s initial assignment will not be to add talent. His assignment will be to shed it. Coming in from the outside could be an advantage.
Those of us who follow Carolina are familiar with the contributions as well as the personalities of such Panthers lifers as linebacker Jon Beason, running back DeAngelo Williams and even offensive tackle Jordan Gross.
There will be a purge, and players whose jerseys fans wear to Bank of American Stadium will be let go.
I’ve written approximately 11 times that Richardson made a mistake when he decided to retain Rivera. Let’s make it 12.
I, too, would have kept Rivera. But the call should have been the general manager’s. The decision should at least have been made in concert with the general manager.
The football operation is yours, Mr. Gettleman. Except you don’t get to choose your coach. Aside from that, you’ll make all, most or some of the calls.
I assure you that Richardson wants to win as much, or more, and probably more, than any coach, player or executive in the organization.
His way, the Panther way, worked initially as trips to the NFC championship and one to the Super Bowl attest.
But after a fine 2008 season, the Panthers were decimated in the playoffs and have not been heard from since. Unless you count quarterback Cam Newton’s advertisements, the Panthers have made little impact nationally. They're one of those quiet teams that watch the postseason on their flat screen televisions. They start slowly, finish quickly and get a good draft pick.
The trajectory needs to be changed. The Panthers entered the league in 1995 and have yet to have consecutive winning seasons. They’ve had good teams, but they’ve never had a good program.
This is why Gettleman is one of the most essential hires Richardson has made. The general manager’s charge is to fix the franchise. He has to slice salary yet give Rivera enough talent to compete not just in December but all season long.
Cam Newton is flashy, but the Panthers are not. Solid is what they strive for.
Gettleman's assignment is to help them get there.
Sorensen: 704-358-5119; email@example.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen