Carolina Panthers GM search: What changes could be on the horizon?

Streeter Lecka

Every time a new GM is hired there are changes. What could be on the horizon in Carolina?

Certain things tend to happen when a new GM is installed in an organization. They obviously look to find their own coaching staff, and possible reshuffle ancillary duties like scouting. It goes deeper than that, however, and often leads to a systematic reshuffling of an entire organization's philosophy.

When Marty Hurney was fired last week I took a look at recent GM changes around the NFL to look at whether or not teams had much more success. Today we're looking at the changes that were made in these organizations.

Turning the franchise around in one year

Of the teams who hired new GMs since 2009, only two teams have had better than 8-8 seasons following a general manager change-- the San Francisco 49ers under Trent Baalke, and the Denver Broncos under John Elway.

If the Panthers follow the same trend, the chance they'll see a winning season in 2013 is just 15%.

Coaching changes

Since 2009 the NFL has seen thirteen teams hire new general managers. Of these thirteen, only three allowed a head coach to remain in place, and of these three only Mike Munchack in Tennessee remains from the previous regime; though it's important to note that Ruston Webster is in his first season as GM of the organization.

The Carolina Panthers can preach that Ron Rivera is fighting for his job, but if you look at how these organizations made changes, they all made similar claims of the incumbents. Based on past history, Ron Rivera has a 23% chance of remaining with the Panthers at least one more season, and just a 7% chance of keeping his job moving forward.

Quarterback changes

This is the most misunderstood and misconstrued conversation on CSR, but hey, we're used to it. We will make this very clear: No editor or author of this site is advocating the Carolina Panthers should trade Cam Newton. Do we need to make that any clearer? Nobody is suggesting the Panthers should trade Cam Newton.

That being said, there are certain realities that need to be looked at. Remember when a new head coach would finally give Matt Moore a chance? What about Jimmy Clausen? Surely Jimmy would have a chance to at least compete following the lame duck season, right? There are realities to the NFL whether they always make sense of not.

Bill Polian drafted Kerry Collins, George Seifert cut Steve Beuerlein and drafted Chis Weinke, John Fox cut Chris Weinke and went with Jake Delhomme, Ron Rivera cut Matt Moore, benched Jimmy Clausen and drafted Cam Newton-- the list goes on. New head coaches, and new general managers tend to have an idea in their head about the kind of quarterback they want, and sometimes they are wrong, but changes are made anyway.

Of the thirteen general managers hired, five kept quarterbacks their following year-- and only two have remained in the new system for for more than one year, Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo, and Alex Smith in San Francisco. The remainder: Jake Locker, Carson Palmer, and Sam Bradford are just eight games into a new general manager's tenure.

Alex Smith could be the most likely scenario for the Panthers, because all the same arguments for Cam Newton can be applied to Smith. Extremely promising but raw out of college, offensive coordinators who held them back, and former #1 picks who many are already comfortable calling 'busts'. Ultimately the 49ers made the right choice by sticking with Smith, because he's one of the NFL's best QBs in 2012.

Was this their choosing, or happy accident? It was the latter. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh selected Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft, and were pushing hard to sign Peyton Manning in the 2012 off season. Despite the result now, they had no faith in Smith to be their franchise QB.

By the percentages, Cam Newton has a 38% chance of remaining with the Panthers through a GM change.

What do we take away from this?

If you're the kind that doesn't believe history can tell us anything, then nothing. After all, the Panthers are their own organization with their own set of circumstances.

If you believe that these kind of changes are endemic, then you have a whole set of other questions. There is simply no way of knowing what a new staff might believe in. Perhaps it will be a coach who wants a 3-4 defense, rendering a lot of the Panthers' personnel obsolete. Maybe the offensive scheme will be a West Coast-- there's simply no way to know.

Change is exciting, but the repercussions could be further reaching than many of us are willing to admit.

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