Talentless Panthers Offense No Match For Broncos Defense
Winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing folks seem to understand. And all Cameron Newton (“Cam”) and the Panthers did this season was win. But their unlikely success created a false since of security for Panthers fans and unrealistic expectation for their offense. In the immortal words of Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.”
But who did we think they were?
The Panthers offense was as anemic as its talent would allow. Cam wasn’t just the clear MVP this season because he led the team with the best record, or because he amassed gaudy dual threat statistics. No, Cam was the obvious (should have been unanimous) MVP because he did all of those things with virtually no help around him. Sure, his tight end made big catches.
But similar to Robert Horry (NBA) on every team that he played for, Greg Olsen is a role player. He could never be the dominant force that Gronkowski is or Shannon Sharpe was. He can only be what he is. What he is, is a formidable role player.
Outside of the tight end safety valve, Cam was playing with the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ backups for a receiving corps. These guys were one step above junior varsity. Saying Cam was under appreciated for his ability to out perform considering the lack of talent on this group is an understatement. Yes we know, Cam’s big and fast and strong. But so are dozens of other quarterbacks in the NFL. In terms of size, speed and strength, Cam is no anomaly. Credit his intelligence, winning prowess, leadership, or savvy for methodically dissecting complex NFL defenses — not just his athleticism.
The Panthers won the most games with the least talent. Sorry, facts are facts. Outside of their All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, and MVP quarterback (Cam), this team is devoid of star talent. No, Josh Norman is a quality above average zone corner, but he’s no Patrick Peterson, heck, he’s no Charles Woodson and Woodson is retiring after 18 grueling seasons.
Playing in an abysmal division guaranteed the Panthers at least a birth in the playoffs. But having an absolute stud at quarterback hid many Panther deficiencies, namely, the o-line and receiving corps. Putting these deficiencies into perspective, it boggles the mind how they won any games outside of their division, let alone 15. Any sports commentators shocked by this outcome weren’t paying attention all season. The Super Bowl 50 beat down did not expose the Panthers receivers. They were exposed on a weekly basis throughout the season, but to their fortune a real-life superhero came to their rescue.
The Super Bowl 50 beat down was an embarrassment of mismanagement and arrogance on the part of the Panthers front office. Carolina front office staff assumed Cam could pull another rabbit out of the hat and bail out their refusal to surround him with the skill that his talent and genius deserve. Neither Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana nor Tom Brady could have won with that receiving corps. Heck, Brady couldn’t win with Randy Moss, Randy Moss! What on earth made the Panthers think their rising star could overcome the impossible and win with Philly Brown and Ted Ginn Jr.?
Win it mattered most, the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ backups masquerading as NFL receivers, dropped pass after pass and failed to get open. The only positive for Cam is now 100 million people understand how prolific his season truly was. He didn’t just influence the Panthers play with his talent. He influenced their play with his personality and his love for the weekly Sunday challenges. Unfortunately for him, on this Sunday, his team was incapable of replicating his energy, or will to win. They folded when the going got tough.
Whether Cam will have an opportunity to return to this stage remains to be seen. But what must be remembered from this Super Bowl is that Cam took an offense of nobodies and gave them a chance to be great, they just weren’t ready for greatness.