Carolina quarterback Cam Newton didn’t say much after the Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, but the league’s MVP did promise this: “We’ll be back.”
But will they?
Only time will tell. The Panthers could fade into oblivion, like the San Francisco 49ers did after losing the Super Bowl three years ago. Or they could bounce back, just like these Denver Broncos did after a devastating loss in the big game two years ago.
Either way, Carolina’s mettle will be tested when they report to training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina next summer.
“I told our guys, this is the same (Broncos) team that a couple of years ago got beat,” coach Ron Rivera said. “So we have an opportunity to grow and learn from this experience. So we need to learn from this experience and give ourselves an opportunity to get back here.”
The last time the Panthers lost in the Super Bowl, it took 12 years to get back.
But the pieces in Carolina seem to be in place for success over the long haul.
The Panthers had won 22 of their last 24 games and three straight NFC South championships before Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Broncos.
General manager Dave Gettleman has a solid core that includes six first-team All-Pros — Newton, center Ryan Kalil, fullback Mike Tolbert, linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman.
They have other consistent players like tight end Greg Olsen and running back Jonathan Stewart, and budding young stars such as defensive tackle Kawann Short, guard Trai Turner and defensive end Kony Ealy, who had 3 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in the Super Bowl.
With the exception of Norman, all are under contract next season.
“At the end of the day, we established something, we built something here,” Ealy said. “We’re not going to change it up, switch it up next year when the season starts over. We’re going to keep the same. … That’s what got us here. And our character got us here. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”