5 harsh lessons the Carolina Panthers must learn after Week 1 loss

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers must make Christian McCaffrey the focal point

The early play calling from offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was baffling to many. Despite head coach Matt Rhule claiming that the Carolina Panthers were going to be a downhill running team in 2022, the offensive coordinator dialed up pass play after pass play, trying to manufacture quick throws to get new quarterback Baker Mayfield in some sort of groove.

This played right into the hands of a Cleveland Browns defense that knows Mayfield well. It also essentially shut down the offense through three quarters.

At one point in the third quarter, Christian McCaffrey had just four carries. The running back came to life on a botched play, that stemmed from a poor snap from Pat Elfein that was picked up by the All-Pro and taken for a big gain.

McCaffrey was more of a feature for the remainder of the game. The former first-round pick ended the game with 10 rushes for 33 yards and a score to go along with four receptions for 24 yards.

Considering he was rarely involved until later in the game, the lack of yardage is no surprise.

It’s no secret that McCaffrey is the most dynamic player on this Panthers team. While limiting his touches is understandable given his injury issues, this team is not good enough for the Stanford product to be a decoy or a bystander.