Here we go football fans. The NFL is officially back. And with it come an abundance of speculations and theories about the season that is ahead. In Carolina, the Panthers are in dire need of an identity, and preferably one that doesn’t involve Cam Newton running the ball into a wall of defenders several times per game. This team needs to find new playmakers, and they appear to have found a really good one in running back Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey has all the tools you look for from a big-play tailback. The type of player, who can do it all for this team’s offense. He brings an x-factor that simply doesn’t exist in most runners, in that he can do it all, whether it is running up the middle or around the edge, as well as catching passes at any location on the field, the guy is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
McCaffrey set a franchise rookie record with 80 receptions last year. He turned those catches into 651 yards and five touchdowns. And for all the effort he brought forth as a receiving back, he left a lot to be desired as a rusher, only tallying 435 rushing yards and two touchdowns all season.
But this is a new season, and we have already heard Panthers coach Ron Rivera say he would like to increase his touches to the 25-30 range per game. Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but it would mean that McCaffrey would become to focal point of the offense. It’s tough to know how he would respond upon being given that type of opportunity, but it would seem logical that he would embrace it.
Meanwhile, Carolina released long-time Panther Jonathan Stewart this offseason, clearing the path for McCaffrey to have a big workload in his second season as a pro. Of course, there is always a chance that C. J. Anderson does take some of those reps, but it would certainly be in more of a complementary role, and not the big role that Stewart had.
And if anyone had any concerns about McCaffrey’s abilities to perform as the lead back, just look at his strong numbers from this preseason, during which he rushed for 151 yards on 21 carries, scoring two touchdowns in the process. This could be a monster season for the talented young man.