Newton: 2012 is a failure if Panthers not in playoff hunt

Panthers QB Cam Newton visits the "NFL.com Live" set Thursday on Radio Row (Alix Drawec/NFL)

INDIANAPOLIS — For a team that’s gone 8-24 in the past two seasons, the Panthers sure are confident.

Of course, that’s what happens when a player like Cam Newton bursts onto the scene. The Panthers improved from 2-14 in 2010 to 6-10 this season, mainly thanks to their record-setting rookie QB who transformed the moribund franchise into one of the more exciting teams in the NFL.

Steve Smith guaranteed reporters after the season ended in New Orleans that the Panthers would be playoff-bound next season. Newton is in Indianapolis for Sunday’s Super Bowl, and before a Thursday appearance on “Super Bowl Live,” he said he wholly supports his receiver’s cocksure attitude.

“I’m a firm believer in that, too,” Newton told NFL.com. “I think as a team, we would fail ourselves if we’re not being a playoff contender due to so many close games this year and not having that chemistry like we wanted to. But as we grow together, we’re going to do nothing but get better.”

Now, these words shouldn’t come as a total shock to anyone who’s followed Newton this season. His goal is to bring a winning-is-all-that-matters attitude to Carolina, and he’s on record saying he’s a lion and that he’s trying “to get everybody on my level.”

So while some QBs might try to temper such a bold prediction from a teammate, Newton stuck to his guns when asked if he’d be disappointed if the Panthers weren’t in the playoffs next season.

“Yes, sir,” Newton said. “I think that’s the reason why we play the game. To be a contender year in and year out. I think we have the potential to be that, and I wouldn’t be saying that if I didn’t firmly believe it.”

Maybe that’s why Newton wanted to come to Indianapolis and experience firsthand what a Super Bowl week is like. Newton admitted he’s envious of how Tom Brady and Eli Manning get to play in Super Bowl XLVI.

“It’s so much motivation due to the energy that you get around the Super Bowl,” Newton said. ” … As a fan of the game, it’s something that a lot of people have to witness (coming) to an event that has so much magnitude to it. It just brings me chills just thinking about being a quarterback in this game.”

– David Ely

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