CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney learned football from his old Washington boss, Bobby Beathard.
One of his mentor's cornerstone beliefs is at work, and explains a lot of what's going on with the team.
"Bobby always said, 'When everything's not going well as a whole, you have to be careful about evaluating individuals,'" Hurney said last week, and has said often. "You can't get caught up in the emotion, and you have to do a good job of targeting exactly what went wrong and how to fix it."
The snowball started rolling on the Panthers in September, and they weren't able to turn it around. So while many people want immediate answers, (insert stomping-of-foot sound), the answers aren't coming this minute, this hour or maybe even this week.
That holds for decisions big and small, reaching from top to bottom.
And it's largely because they don't have them yet.
They're going to evaluate every aspect of the business, from players to coaches to those who hire and fire them.
And Hurney's not the only one taking his time.
While the G.M.'s philosophy began in Washington, owner Jerry Richardson's has its roots in Pittsburgh, but it's based in the same notion of thinking things through coolly.
The Rooney family remains his role model, the paragon for how to build a franchise for the long term. That's why he's taking time, being patient, even in a world that demands instant feedback.
For the Rooneys, that meant not torching the whole organization when the Steelers went 7-9 and 6-10 in 1998 and 1999, when many were calling for coach Bill Cowher's head. Those were the years that were tough to watch, and tough to wait through (and also the seventh and eighth of Cowher's 15 years).
But they waited, trusted their plan as much as their people and were rewarded.
Similarly, Richardson apparently wants to pause before he makes a call on the future. More than likely, coach John Fox and Hurney are still going to be in place on the other side of that decision. They're working as such, and have all year.
Changes are going to be made, but several of those close to him insist the boss still has faith in the pair that rescued his team from 1-15, got them to a Super Bowl two years later and an NFC Championship Game two years after that. His statements to the NFL Network the other week indicated that belief, although he's yet to share it with the rest of us.
Richardson's also a big believer in quarterback Jake Delhomme, and knows that much of this year's disaster stemmed from his absence, even though there are certainly other issues to be addressed.
Richardson wants to sit down with his braintrust and talk about the future. There are meetings beginning today and going into next week at different levels of the organization.
And while we can all ask, every day, to talk to the owner, the bottom line is he's apparently not ready to talk. He wants to get a sense of the plan before he shares it with us.
From the Panthers' perspective, Richardson commenting on the futures of Fox and Hurney is a tar pit he's not ready to walk into. It's a little like asking someone if they're still beating their wife.
All the talk about firing Fox and Hurney came from outside, not within. So if he never considered firing them, he doesn't feel compelled to explain why he's not, at least not now.
Is your boss firing you tomorrow?
It's not a satisfying response, not for someone in the business of asking questions and hoping for straight answers.
As distasteful as it is for me, and for you fans, taking his time is the course Richardson's taking.
We can get indignant and demand answers. But until Richardson's sure he's got the right ones, talking to others isn't going to help him arrive at a solution.
And right now, that's what he needs more than anything. He might already have it, but when your last two seasons were 8-8 and 7-9, turning a cool eye on the problem's probably the proper course to take.