Christian McCaffrey is the heart and soul of the Carolina Panthers offensively, but could the running back improve by becoming more elusive?
There is little disputing the fact that Christian McCaffrey is the best dual-threat running back in the NFL. He has made a historic start to his career and looks a sure-fire inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he continues to perform at the same level going forward.
This is something that has been a tremendous asset for the Carolina Panthers to call upon. And they will now have McCaffrey for his best years after he signed a four-year, $64 million deal that included a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed to officially become the face of the franchise.
Despite the former first-round pick’s exceptional production. His elusiveness is not something that was highly ranked in a recent feature by Pro Football Focus. Writer Ben Linsey put McCaffrey at No. 13 on his list of most elusive running backs in the NFL. And he had the stats to back up his claims.
Although Linsey stated he thought McCaffrey was the best back in the league. But this is in spite of his relatively modest yardage in the face of opposing defenders.
"“In my (and most people’s) estimation, McCaffrey is the best running back in the NFL right now. No running back has been more valuable to their team since 2017 than McCaffrey per PFF WAR, and his versatility as both a receiver and runner makes him a divisive case in the running back value argument. The numbers indicate, however, that plenty of running backs are more elusive than McCaffrey.“McCaffrey’s middle-of-the-road missed tackles forced per touch (0.19) and yards after contact per rush (2.6) numbers from the 2019 season stem partially from just how much volume he had to shoulder on the Panthers’ offense. Then again, it’s OK to recognize that he wins in different areas — ability to get open as a receiver, vision, speed, burst, durability, etc. — rather than being among the league’s best at breaking away from defenders in the open field.”"
How can Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey become more elusive?
One could argue that Christian McCaffrey does not have to be all that more elusive to perform at a high level for the Carolina Panthers. The team will continue to put him in the right sort of position to succeed. And he has always been a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
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The arrival of offensive coordinator Joe Brady is going to do McCaffrey the world of good. The former LSU passing guru like to get the ball downfield quickly. And this could see Carolina’s star player get more space despite being the primary focus of opposing defenses.
Another reason McCaffrey’s stats from an elusive standpoint didn’t jump out is the number of carries he had in 2019. The player accumulated more than 400 touches during the campaign. And it would be a huge shock if this sort of volume continued going forward.
This wouldn’t be a smart move by the Panthers if they want to maximize the player’s production for the entirety of his new deal. The team is not expected to be in contention for a postseason berth in 2020. And their offensive line might be another element than hampers McCaffrey and new quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater if the unit fails to come together in a short period of time.
Despite McCaffrey’s middle of the pack PFF ranking for elusiveness, there is nobody better at the position currently. He will be at the heart of everything good for the Panthers next season, and hopefully for many more years to come.