Facing Criticism, Do the Panthers Receivers Even Believe in Themselves?

The national media scoffs, the local media vexes, and the fan base is nervously hopeful.  Faith in the unknown, it’s arduous enough for the most pious of fans, let alone the inherently cynical media It’s not easy. It’s not logical—but it can be powerful!

What the Panthers have offensively is unknown at this point.  Even the coaching staff doesn’t know what Carolina has to offer yet.  The entire receiving core has been replaced and an already questionable line has suffered from retirement and injury.  The unknown has bred uncertainty and disbelief.

Maybe the cynicism and worry is for the best, however. Carolina’s offense can go into the 2014 season under the radar and underestimated by opponents.  The criticism and ridicule experienced by this young group of receivers has ignited a fire in this group of receivers.  It’s also put a chip on their shoulders.  Cam Newton recently addressed this criticism,  defending "those guys already have that fire in their eyes. I would rather those guys be like that and for them to go out there and bust their tails like they've been doing. It's kind of like a slap in -- not only their face -- but my face as well.”

Continued criticism by the media in the midst of training camp could add enough psychological stress to strengthen this bunch mentally.  By the end of training camp, they would have scratched and fought for their roster spot in the face of relentless criticism. They could just walk into the season mentally resilient and accustomed to fighting, led by a star quarterback equally determined to prove the critics wrong.

This will be a dangerous and important opportunity for this unknown group. Few will believe. Few will have faith.

St. Augustine once remarked: "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."  

If this unknown group of receivers finds faith in themselves, success will be their reward. 

From the likes of this image, they may just already believe.