What were some key observations from Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey’s performance against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1?
There was enormous excitement in the air as Christian McCaffrey made his long-awaited return to the lineup in Week 1. The Carolina Panthers haven’t benefitted from the running back’s presence for anything more than 10 games over the last two seasons, so seeing him on the field in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns was a significant morale boost for everyone associated with the organization.
McCaffrey is an elite difference-maker capable of turning any game on its head. Something the Panthers sorely missed during their complete capitulation after such a promising start in 2022.
Obvious attention centered on Baker Mayfield against his former team. But many went into the contest wondering just how the Panthers would deploy McCaffrey within Ben McAdoo’s complex offensive scheme.
With this in mind, here are four key observations from McCaffrey’s performance versus the Browns in Week 1.
Key Observation No. 1
Browns set their stall out early with Christian McCaffrey
It was evident from early on that the Cleveland Browns were not going to let Christian McCaffrey beat them, which wasn’t a surprise. They stacked the box on every down, daring quarterback Baker Mayfield to beat them through the air, which he struggled to accomplish during a terrible first half overall.
This is something the Carolina Panthers can expect for as long as McCaffrey is in the backfield. But offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo just couldn’t find the right solutions as the home side found themselves in a 10-point hole at the break.