Balance on offense must remain when Christian McCaffrey returns
By Dean Jones
Balance is key for the Carolina Panthers and Christian McCaffrey at the Chiefs.
The Carolina Panthers could be getting their face of the franchise back in the lineup at the Kansas City Chiefs. Christian McCaffrey is trending in the right direction to be active for the first time since Week 2 and this would be a major boost for morale at the Super Bowl champions.
It’s unlikely that the Panthers would risk McCaffrey unless he was at full health, or as close to it as he can possibly be without further conditioning on the field. They’ve handled this situation with extreme caution and jeopardizing his long-term health is just not a viable option given their lack of expectations this season.
McCaffrey will be chomping at the bit to get back into action. His competitive nature assures this and he is sure to do everything in his power to convince head coach Matt Rhule that he’s healthy enough to play.
One thing is certain, Carolina could sure use him on Sunday.#
Christian McCaffrey should help Carolina’s chances in Kansas City.
The Chiefs are arguably the NFL’s best team at the moment, which is something that became prevalent during the second half of last season and throughout the playoffs on their way to a Vince Lombardi Trophy. They are 10.5-point favorites for a good reason and it would be the shock of the 2020 season if the Panthers picked up a victory.
Bringing McCaffrey into the fold would help their slim chances. However, it’s vital for the offense to maintain the sort of balance that brought around some outstanding production during the three contests immediately following his absence.
Kansas City will completely change their focus on defense if the former first-round pick is in the backfield for a consistent period. He might be a little rusty in the early exchanges, but if they take McCaffrey’s threat too lightly, the player will make them pay.
This should free up some additional space for Carolina’s primary weapons in the passing game to make an impression. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel could be the NFL’s most talented wideout trio and they all need to be involved prominently during a game that could see some substantial points put on the board.
Offensive coordinator Joe Brady will be tasked with keeping everyone involved. There is an obvious temptation to lean heavily on McCaffrey given his exceptional dual-threat. But going back to the habits of old could see the offense regress overall.
It’s a delicate situation. Whichever way the Panthers go, you cannot please everybody. Brady has quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s brightest young play-callers and he will know more than anyone how beneficial a balanced attack has been for Carolina of late.
McCaffrey is an indispensable member of the roster and is sure to share his share of the burden at Arrowhead Stadium. The Panthers gave him a four-year, $64 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus, and $38 million guaranteed this offseason after a campaign that saw him become the third player in league history to go over 1,000-yards rushing and receiving, which comes with plenty of expectations moving forward.
There is only one football to go around and it will be interesting to see just how targets are distributed during a game that might end up being a shootout.