With all that we have seen from Cam Newton so far in his brief NFL career, can we even put a limit on his potential? I truly believe that not only will we make the playoffs next year, I think we will be playing in the Superbowl in New Orleans in 2013. Our offense is firing on all cylinders (with a few misfires), our defense has been hit with injuries/youth, and we have a coaching staff that is willing to accept responsibility for the direction of this football team.
The Saints went from 3-13 in '05 to SB champs in '09. Green Bay went from 6th seed in the playoffs to SB champs. Hell. . . Detroit hasn't even played in the big game yet, but they were 0-16 a few years ago; now they are 5-0 and tied for the best record in the NFL with the reigning SB champs. It is not unreasonable for us to think that the Carolina Panthers can produce one of the greatest runs in NFL history.
We have finally found a "franchise" Quarterback. We have two of the most dynamic and amazing RB's in the league, and we have secured an extremely talented core of players for the next 4 or 5 years (Cam, DWill, Olsen, Beason, JAnderson, CJohnson, Hardy etc.) Our special teams has holes, but we can address those problems when we have solid starters, and can focus on depth at important positions (i.e. DT, WR, CB).
If the Panthers can pick up a truly disruptive young DT (either in the draft or in free agency) this coming year, and find a future #1 receiver, then the "Cardiac Cats" are on their way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Feb 2013. All we can hope for is that someone like Adam Vinatieri doesn't come out with that golden horseshoe stuck up his
ass sock (Sorry I'm still bitter about 2003), and break our hearts again.
In the meantime, all we can do is just shrug off these terribly close defeats as growing pains and take relief in knowing that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. We will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL; sooner, rather than later.