It was predictable. Before the Seahawks could even start planning their victory parade and before their fans were finished rioting, a member of the media suggested that the Panthers use the Seahawks as their model. Now it would be one thing if this came from the national media, which honestly still doesn't know or care a lot about the Panthers, but instead it came from a local Charlotte sportswriter!
Now superficially, it might seem to indeed be a good model. Pete Carroll is a defensive coach, Ron Rivera is a defensive coach. Russell Wilson was the first dual threat QB to win a Super Bowl (that is if you ignore other dual threat QBs like Roger Staubach, Joe Theismann, Jeff Hostetler and the fellow who used to hold the NFL career rushing yards record for a QB until Michael Vick broke it, Steve Young) Cam Newton can be the second. Mirror image right?
Wrong. Why? Well the reason why the Panthers do not need to emulate the Seahawks is because the Seahawks' QB is Russell Wilson and the Panthers' QB is Cam Newton. Now do not get me wrong. I like Russell Wilson a whole lot, watching him practically carry N.C. State back in the day, then his moving on to winning the Big 10 at Wisconsin, and obviously his heroics in Seattle. It is frustrating to see people try to diminish Wilson's accomplishments by attributing it to his playing for a great team. Well, Seattle has had a great team for years: defense, running game, OL, WRs, you name it ever since Mike Holmgren went there and made the franchise respectable. What they lacked was a QB, which they obviously have now.
But as highly as I think of Russell Wilson, I must point this out: Cam Newton's statistics dwarf Russell Wilson's. It is so dramatic that even in a year when everyone criticized Mike Shula for a conservative offense that shunted Newton's playmaking potential, Newton still had more passing yards, rushing yards and TDs! And this is no idle fact. Newton's statistics significantly outpace Wilson's despite Wilson having better talent at nearly every position on offense! Do a depth chart comparison. The only clear advantage that Carolina's offensive personnel has over Seattle's is at center (and while Kalil is better than Unger, Unger is a top 5 center) and TE (ditto, Olsen is better, but Zach Miller is a former Pro Bowler). But what about Steve Smith and Jordan Gross? Sure, 8 years ago maybe. But for now, both Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate had more receiving yards and receiving TDs than Smith, and Okung would be a perennial All-Pro if he could only stay healthy (and it speaks volumes about the quality of that OL how their Pro Bowl LT can miss so many games and the Seahawks still run the ball and protect Wilson the way that they do.) And we won't even talk about areas where the comparisons get silly, like Brandon LaFell/Ted Ginn or the right side of the Panthers' OL, the latter of which makes it impossible to compare DeAngelo Williams and Marshawn Lynch (though if we did I would point out that Lynch is 3 years younger).
The point? Were the Panthers to merely get an above average WR across from Steve Smith and an average player at RT, the Panthers would have an above average NFL offense. Which means that were the Panthers to actually have multiple playmaking, consistent WRs with speed and size (or failing that at least one or the other) and at least average to above average players at all 5 offensive positions, the Panthers would be among the top offenses in the NFL! Why? Because Cam Newton is their QB.
So with all due respect to Seattle, the Panthers don't have to try to hold onto Greg Hardy, plug the holes in the secondary, have a smothering defense and be just good enough on offense. (Don't get me wrong, they can do it if they want, but they don't have to go that route.) Also, trying to emulate Seattle would result in diminishing returns anyway, as NFL teams adapt (see how quickly they effectively took away the read option and no one even talked about the pistol this year). With Newton at QB, the Panthers actually can win a title with a great offense and a "good enough" defense like the Kurt Warner, John Elway and Drew Brees teams did.
So having Cam Newton means that the Panthers do not have to follow Russell Wilson's blueprint. Having Newton means that with the proper upgrades in personnel, the Panthers can write their own.