INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 27: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after running for a touchdown during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
A lot of Panther fans are saying at 3-8 the team shouldn't be worried about winning, that in fact they should be happy to lose. The obviously reason being that a worse record means a higher draft pick. Yet I think too much is put into the draft, so much so I get the feeling some fans would prefer to draft in the top 5 every year if they aren't guaranteed a playoff spot.
Fortunately HC Ron Rivera doesn't feel the same as those few fans. Sure it might be cliche for a coach to say he wants to win them all regardless of whether the playoffs are possible:
"We're playing for six Sundays right now - the next five this year and then the Week 1 next September," Rivera said. "We're going to start building in that direction. It's an opportunity now to do something we haven't done yet and that's win back-to-back games. I would love to do that."
I love the fact he says he is playing for week 1 of the 2012 season. I truly believe that wins late in a lost season and the momentum it can build can carry over into week 1 of the following season. Consider the Panthers 2002 season.. They started 3-0 but then lost 8 straight to end their playoff hopes. Rather than tank further the Panthers, under a new Head Coach finished the season 4-1. We know how 2003 went after that 4-1 finish.
Rivera goes on to say that its also about building a winning attitude in their young franchise QB, a dynamic player who Rivera thinks will start for this team a long time:
"What I'd like to do is get him in a situation where he can have back-to-back-to-back-to-back wins and see how he handles that," Rivera said. "It's all about him growing and developing as a football player and that'll help us as a football team and I think the whole idea of drafting Cam and developing Cam is for the future of this franchise. That young man can be here as long as we can have him if he stays healthy. He's an explosive football player that makes dynamic plays. I think that's important."
Yes it would be nice to get a top 5 pick but that draft pick is not what is going to get this team tot he playoffs next year, I don't care who it is. What is going to get the Panthers to the playoffs is in large part of winning attitude, a team and a QB that not only wants to win but expects to win no matter who they are up against. I team and a QB with the confidence that it can perform at a high level even when they have nothing on the line. That is way more important than a few higher slots in the draft I assure you.