If it’s not yet technically official, it will be any moment: Ex-Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney is the new GM for for the Washington Football Team. While the hire is predictable, it’s largely unpopular among fans. In my opinion, the hire is extremely—eh, fine.
Since Rivera’s hire, it’s become clear that he enjoys working with those who he has developed a trusting relationship with. Look no further than the slew of ex-Panthers that joined the Washington organization after Rivera: OC Scott Turner, Linebacker Thomas Davis Sr., quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke—the list goes on. As soon as Hurney was fired by Carolina last month, many predicted that he was the most likely candidate for the GM job that Rivera has long said would be filled immediately once the season ended.
If you want to break a Washington fan’s heart, simply say these three names: Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur. All three were young coaches in the Washington organization within the past decade who left to find major success as head coaches. By hiring 65 year-old Marty Hurney, Washington might lose another young talent in Kyle Smith—the 36 year-old Vice President of Player Personnel who is largely responsible for a myriad of mid-to-late round gems including Matt Ioannidis, Terry McLaurin, Kamren Curl, and Antonio Gibson. Smith was a fan-favorite to become the new GM given his draft history and the way he has stepped up in the absence of a team GM for the 2020 season. Many fear that Hurney’s hire will lead Smith to join the list of young, smart minds who leave the Washington organization in pursuit of a promotion.
Assessing Hurney himself, his draft record is hit-or-miss. While his first round picks have almost all been great, it becomes spotty after that. Many of his picks were instrumental in the Panthers 2015 Super Bowl appearance, but the team’s overall success under him was limited. Furthermore, part of his firing was due to his old-school approach to football and a lack of focus on analytics, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s NFL. While Rivera seems to like Hurney quite a bit, fans, and more importantly the Panthers, aren’t as excited or impressed.
Before I give my opinion on Hurney, I should first give my opinion on Ron Rivera: I think he is extremely smart, a great leader, and I trust him. It seems like Dan Snyder is starting to learn from his past mistakes and is giving Rivera more power than many of the previous coaches; therefore, while I’m not overly-impressed by Hurney, I trust Ron Rivera and his ability to choose what is right for this organization—and I respect that he doesn’t care what we think.
The most refreshing part of the hire is this: Washington has an owner acting more like an owner, a smart-Football mind in charge, and GM who is just the GM. Anybody who has followed the team for a few years knows how dark the days were of Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen calling all of the shots as he served as both general manager and team president. Though I see Hurney as just an average GM, Washington is beginning to look like a functional organization led by a smart head coach.