As I was viewing the post-game festivities at my brother-in-law's home last night here in Texas, I began to ponder for a moment about what it would be like if I were a Cowboys' fan in light of their division foe's most recent Super Bowl victory. As a Panthers' fan, I couldn't help but imagine how disgusted I would feel if the Saints had just won their second Super Bowl in three years. While these thoughts were floating around in my head, a couple of questions crossed my mind for a fleeting moment, and this is what they were: Why not the Panthers? Why couldn't they win it all next season? After contemplating these questions for awhile, this is what I came up with: The Panthers are not that far off. Let me repeat what I just typed. The Panthers are not that far off. Let that sink in for a minute before you meet me after the jump, where you will find a list of reasons why they won't be the last team standing next year, followed by a rebuttal.
1. We don't have a #2 wide receiver.
This is reason enough to believe the impossible, right? Just look at the last two Super Bowl winners. The Packers and the Giants have two of the best wide receiving corps in the league. The Panthers, on the other hand, don't even have a clearly legitimate number two wide receiver. That may be true, but you only have to look as far as this year's runner-up to debunk this myth. The Patriots could easily have been hoisting the Lombardi Trophy if not for a couple of unlucky bounces after two different Giants' fumbles. This is the same Patriots team that doesn't have a #2 wide receiver, much like the Panthers. In fact, I believe the Panther's wide receivers are far and above better than the Patriots. Of course, you could argue that the Patriot's tight ends, who are technically receivers, are better than the Panther's tight ends, and you would be right. On the other hand, let's not forget that the Super Bowl winning Giant's tight ends pale in comparison to the Panthers'. Furthermore, two of the Giant's three tight ends were injured during last night's game and they still won. Even if the Panthers didn't "upgrade" the receiving corps in the off-season, they would be no farther away from reaching the big game next year than they are now.
2. Our defense isn't good enough, just look at the Giants.
The Panther's defense seems light years away from what the Giants are able to do in terms of pressuring the quarterback, but let's not get carried away here. The Patriots were the last ranked defense and still made it to the big dance. Of course, their offense made up for their defensive deficiencies, however, those same deficiencies are ultimately what led to their demise. Even though the same could be said of our very own Panthers, I expect our defense to begin moving in the same direction as our offense with the return of one of our best defensive players ever, Jon Beason. This alone will drastically improve this team more than we could possibly imagine. Simply put, I'm expecting a big jump with our defense next year. How about you?
3. There's no way we make the playoffs in the top-heavy NFC South, let alone the Super Bowl.
Should I go ahead and rehash the past in this division? I won't go into great detail but we only have to go back as far as last season to find that the only expectation the Panthers were told by the media to have was to finish last. We all know that didn't happen because the Panthers managed to finish third by tripling their win total from the year before. I think the Panthers are primed to challenge for second place with a five-hundred or above record, and I'm sure I have some friends that would agree with me.
The next few months could very well be the most exciting prelude to any Panther's season the fans have ever had. Equipped with the number 8/9(along with their other picks), a dynamic young quarterback who has yet to have a full off-season of workouts, and a hungry coaching staff ready to take on the world, the Panthers are ready to show the NFL world that they are for real. I realize this is a bit early for a post like this, but I became a prisoner of the moment after the Super Bowl and I just had to share my thoughts. Now it's your turn. What do you think? Why not the Panthers?