The 31-year-old wide receiver believes his new team, the Carolina Panthers, has the talent to get there -- this season.
“Oh, yeah!" Hogan said Thursday as the Panthers wrapped up a three-day mandatory minicamp, their final practice before they gather for training camp July 24. “It seems like to me all the tools are there."
“[Offensively], we have a lot of talent, a lot of good guys. Our defense, they look pretty scary on paper."
What the Panthers don’t have is Tom Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is coming off his second shoulder surgery in three offseasons. Although all signs point to him being ready for the regular season, he threw on a limited basis in minicamp and didn’t throw at all during team drills.
Much of how Carolina does this season depends on Newton staying healthy. The same could be said about Brady and New England.
Hogan said Newton and Brady are two “totally different players" in their day-to-day routine and approach to practice. Newton is more kidlike, running 50 yards downfield to hip-bump a teammate after a big play and yelling like he’s on a schoolyard all the way.
Brady has a more businesslike approach.
But the two quarterbacks, Hogan said, have one thing in common that gives Carolina a chance.
“That competitive nature, it’s there," Hogan said. “When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games.
“Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him."
Hogan likes the pieces around Newton, starting with running back Christian McCaffrey, who fell just shy last season of becoming the third back in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
New England didn’t have a back like McCaffrey, filling the role by committee. So that’s a plus for the Panthers.
“He’s been a lot of fun to be around, just his overall work ethic and seeing how he goes about his process," Hogan said of McCaffrey.
“These are some of the most competitive guys I’ve been around," Hogan said.
Defensively, with the exception of last season, the Panthers statistically have been on par or better than the Patriots over the past six seasons. The addition of six-time Pro Bowl lineman Gerald McCoy and Pro Bowl linebacker/end Bruce Irvin to a group that already includes Kawann Short and Luke Kuechly has Hogan “happy they’re on our side."
Hogan was 2-1 with New England in Super Bowls. He had arguably his best NFL game in the Patriots' loss to Philadelphia following the 2017 season. He had six catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Although he didn’t have a catch in last season's Super Bowl victory against the Rams, Hogan had a spectacular one-handed catch on third-and-8 in the AFC Championship Game against Kansas City that kept alive a drive that gave New England the lead in a game it eventually won in overtime.
Hogan has 34 catches for 542 yards and four touchdowns in nine career playoff games.
“A very veteran guy, a smart, crafty receiver," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said of Hogan. “The young guys we have can be impacted by that. He’s been there, been a big part of a championship and it’s been good to watch him interact with the other receivers.
“Definitely a big plus."
If Hogan duplicates his three-season New England average of 35.6 catches, 550.3 yards and four touchdowns with Carolina, he’ll be a big plus and a bargain, as he's playing on a one-year deal that maxes out at $2 million.
He also brings the ability to separate -- a quality the receiving corps has been missing, the lack of which sometimes forced Newton to hold onto the ball too long. According to Next Gen Stats, Hogan led all receivers last season with an average of 4.1 yards of separation.
That he brings a winning attitude also helps. You can’t help but develop that playing in a culture called the “Patriot Way."
And while the Carolina culture is different, there is a common thread Hogan likes.
“The overall competitiveness," Hogan said. “At the end of the day, we’re out here trying to win football games and be playing in January."