There are many things that Greg Olsen would like to change about Super Bowl 50. The outcome, sure, but also a lot of things that led to that outcome.
“I would have liked us to make some of those plays that we made throughout the year,” the Panthers tight end said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The easy catches, a couple blitz pick-ups, make a couple of the interceptions, make a couple catches in traffic – I think you can go down a laundry list of woulda-coulda-shoulda’s, but the reality is (the Broncos) played better than us. They made better plays than we made – and in this league, if you don’t play well, you’re going to be exposed. There’s no excuse. That’s just the way it goes. They beat us that day. The reality of the situation was that. It’s something that we have to live with and something that we’re going to have to move forward from.”
The Panthers had a chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Cam Newton fumbled. He also didn’t try to dive on the loose ball and was heavily criticized after the game, which Carolina lost, 24-10.
Olsen found the criticism ridiculous.
“I think the notion that he was worried about getting his legs tangled up, I think that’s really irresponsible,” Olsen said. “I don’t think that’s anywhere near relevant to the story. I think anybody who’s watched us play, I don’t think Cam worrying about his personal, physical harm would be anywhere near the conversation. I mean, the guy’s jumping over piles, he’s running more than any quarterback in the league, he’s throwing it 30 times a game. If it’s 3rd-and-1, he’s getting the ball. If it’s 3rd-and-goal, he’s getting the ball. He’s taking hits from linebackers. I don’t think anyone would ever watch Cam play and say, ‘Oh, he’s worried about getting hurt.’ I think the notion that he wouldn’t jump on the ball out of fear of physical harm is probably someone who hasn’t watched a whole lot of games of the Panthers and watched Cam play very much.”
And, as we’ve seen countless times in football, scrums for fumbles can be a little hectic.
“There’s a lot of moving parts out there,” Olsen said. “Things are happening way faster than they are when people are watching on TV. There’s a lot of bodies and there’s a lot of decisions that are split-second reactions that try to result in as good an end game as possible. I don’t think anyone would ever question Cam’s toughness, commitment to being physical, taking blows that he has to take for us to win – he’s asked to do more physically than any quarterback probably in the history of the NFL. So from a physical standpoint, I don’t think anyone can ever really question that.”
Either way, the Panthers hope for another crack at the Super Bowl this season. They lost Josh Norman to free agency but will return Kelvin Benjamin, who had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014. Benjamin, a 6-5, 245-pounder with freakish athleticism, tore his ACL last August.
“I think anytime you lose a player like (Benjamin), it’s unfortunate,” Olsen said. “But the reality is, the season’s going to go on. No one’s going to sit around and feel sorry for you – both as an individual or as a team. Life goes on. We’re going to try to fill in the void and keep it moving. That’s what we had to do last year and we’re thrilled obviously to get Kelvin back and get him back in the mix here with what we’re doing offensively. You can never have enough good players, so it’s definitely a good thing that he’s coming back and a good problem to have. We’ll be able to spread that ball out to one more big guy out there, and I’m sure Cam’s thrilled.”