The Super Bowl Curse used to be a thing and almost every year there for a while, it seemed the team that lost would struggle the following season.
The Rams went from 14-2 and a loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVI to 7-9, and the Raiders went from 11-5 and a loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII to 4-12. The Panthers went from 12-4 and a loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII to 7-9, and the Eagles went from 13-3 and a loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX to 6-10.
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It also happened to the Falcons, Bills, Giants and Bears.
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Carolina this year? It’s 1-5, but it’s not cursed.
It’s just missing, badly.
There are two issues with that – there are things that go on out on the field, obviously, and there are things that go on in our heads and with perception and motivation.
One, with the offense first, they’re supposed to be improved with (Kelvin) Benjamin and (Devin) Funchess and (Greg) Olsen and they’re still a good offense. But the level that Cam Newton was playing at last year, it was almost unseen. Some of the throws he was making into tight windows, you just never see. They were incredible and he was making them routinely, almost every week. He was the MVP.
I don’t know that any quarterback has ever played an entire season better than he did, with this ability to run and carry the team. This year, that hasn’t been the case for whatever reason.
On defense, the secondary, they lost Josh Norman and they’re shuffling guys around, but you also have to look at what they’re asking guys to do. There are things they shouldn’t be doing, that they don’t have the talent to do. They’re playing man coverage against guys who are just flat out better than they are.
Julio Jones, he almost rewrote the record book against these guys. Now, the front seven hasn’t generated a pass rush, either. They’re in the middle of the pack in sacks (tied for 16th, with 12.0) and last year they were near the top of the league. They’re also not creating turnovers. They’re last in giveaways and last year led the league in turnover margin by a wide margin – they were plus-20 and Kansas City was second at plus-14.
That’s not the formula you want.
Each team is giving the Panthers its best shot. They’re measuring themselves against a team that went to the Super Bowl. If you’re not prepared for that challenge, you’re going to be 1-5 and that’s exactly where they are.
There’s all of that, but I think there’s more to it and we hear it all the time. Each team is giving the Panthers its best shot. They’re measuring themselves against a team that went to the Super Bowl. If you’re not prepared for that challenge, you’re going to be 1-5 and that’s exactly where they are.
The team I was on in New York, from a leadership standpoint, was off the charts. They had just won a Super Bowl when I showed up there in 2008 and those guys from the first day were talking about how every team is going to give us their best shot. It was, “No matter what we did last year, we have to go out and prove to them that we deserved to be champions, that we deserved to be in that game, and, oh yeah, we’re going to beat you this year.”
You hear coaches say all the time, “You have to take ownership.” The Giants, when I was there, we had Chris Snee, Shaun O’Hara and Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, and those guys took ownership. It was their team. Tom Coughlin was there, but this was their football team and you were going to prepare a certain way, you were going to practice a certain way and you were going to play a certain way every time we went out on the field.
We had the second-best record in the NFL that next season. Now, we lost to Philadelphia in the playoffs after a first-round bye and a lot of that is just because Michael Vick was phenomenal. But the team was ready for a challenge and I don’t know that I’ve seen Carolina’s leadership ready for that challenge.
You have some guys there, especially in the secondary, who weren’t there last year. There has been some changeover there and there are some players who don’t understand that.
They thought maybe they can roll in and do the same things and that’s not the case. If you come off playing in the Super Bowl, you’re going to get a team’s best effort.
I do think that’s even bigger than what they’re doing in the secondary and the changeover in personnel they’ve had. You can line up correctly. You can play team defense. You can score points – they just put up 38 losing at New Orleans. You just question whether they have “it.”
Do they have what it takes to want to get back and be in that game?
Question of the week
From Laura Richardson: It’s most people’s dream to be a quarterback in the NFL. You did that and then were a backup QB. However, you retired young. Teams still wanted your services. Was CTE one of the reasons for your early retirement? Do you have any regrets?
The thing you have to realize when you play in the NFL is you’re not going to play forever. You have to have something else you identify with as a person – father, husband, son, whatever you choose to do after football. You can’t shut off your competitiveness and your willingness to want to do something and be productive. You have to set yourself up for it and I did toward the end of my career and it has been an easy transition.
I was able to play for more than a decade and it was a great time, loved every minute of it, and I saw everything from winning just two games to winning the Super Bowl, from playing a lot to not playing at all. It was all great. But after it was over, it was just over and I was on to the next thing. Fortunately for me, I can still watch my brother play. I have three boys who love to play football. I coach it. I’m able to talk about it on the NFL Network.
The only regret I have from my time playing – it’s something that was really out of my control – but being in New York and having a chance to see a team really prepare … Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, those two guys together, getting a quarterback ready to play a game, they’re the best I’ve ever been around. I would have loved to be able to go through an entire week of preparation and start another game. I played in other games. I got a chance to go in there. But I never got a chance to do that again.
From when you first start to play, man, you don’t know anything. I wouldn’t have started that kid who went out there in 2002. They were great times, but there’s no way I was ready to go on the field knowing what I know now. I survived based on athleticism and practicing with my dad, being able to throw the football. I was accurate and I could move around. That’s how I survived. But mentally I was not ready to play, so at the end of my career, if I could have had one more chance to go through a week of preparation, go out there knowing I’m the starting quarterback, I would have loved that.
That would have been a lot of fun. I wouldn’t have wanted to start another game in my rookie year, no way. But toward the end, absolutely, I would have loved one more chance at that thing.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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