Carolina Panther coach Ron Rivera thinks his team advancing to the Super Bowl last season, and losing, can help them take the next step this season.
“What you listen to what some of the guys told me, the way they’ve told it to me and (center) Ryan Kalil is the best example,” Rivera explained to Breitbart Sports and other reporters gathered at the owners’ meetings earlier this year. “He’s like, ‘We get it. We know what it’s like to be here. We understand.’ Now all of sudden the great unknown is no longer the great unknown. Now we understand. We know. Maybe hopefully it’s something we can feed off that we have the experience of having been there.”
And Rivera thinks the team that beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos, serves as a perfect example of a club learning from coming up short, and then proceeding to reach the brass ring. The Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48.
“Remember two years ago, that same Denver team or most of that Denver team, they experienced it but lost,” Rivera said. “My encouragement is there is a team that was able to bounce back and win it.”
But it will be a significant challenge for the Panthers to reach Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5, 2017.
While we don’t possess Nate Silver’s crystal ball to see the future, it’s always tough to return to the Super Bowl a year after appearing.
Remember, the aforementioned Broncos didn’t get back the season after losing to Seattle; they lost in the divisional playoff round.
And questions abound surrounding Rivera’s team entering training camp today at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Will the Panthers be able to overcome the loss of their top cornerback Josh Norman, now a Washington Redskin?
Will the Panthers offensive line, which let them down in the Super Bowl, take the next step? Not much has changed personnel-wise.
How will the Panthers handle what should be a much tougher division this year? Last season, the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all had bad campaigns. The chances of that happening again are slim.
Can Cam Newton repeat his NFL MVP season of 2015, with opposing defensive coordinators dissecting the 2015 tape to the nth degree and designing new ways to stop him?
So getting back to the Super Bowl, and winning it this time, will be a huge challenge for the Panthers.