The Carolina Panthers may have lost their week two preseason game to the Tennessee Titans, but there was one major bright side. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey showed glimpses that he would live up to his much anticipated hype. Scoring his first touchdown, and having a 38 yard catch and run is what a lot of people are predicting he will do for the Panthers consistently. So far there has been nothing to oppose that notion as McCaffrey has performed as much as you can in the preseason. Also consider the fact McCaffrey played in a pro style offense at Stanford. Now some would argue that has no baring on whether or not your successful in the NFL. Yet, look at how BIG 12 quarterbacks who played the shotgun offense in college are almost never successful in the NFL. The system you play in in college matters, but so does how you are used, and that’s where the red flag is with McCaffrey.
As a sophomore when McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders‘ NCAA record for most all purpose yards in a season they had quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan was a four year starter, and could take the pressure off McCaffrey, and it was really his sophomore season when he bust on to the scene. During his junior year McCaffrey still led the NCAA in all purpose yards, but Stanford did worse. This is because in two games against Washington and Colorado McCaffrey was silenced, and Stanford for the season couldn’t move the ball without him. McCaffrey also had over 300 touches during his junior season, and was injured for some games. Then later on in the year McCaffrey caught heat for sitting out of the Sun Bowl to prepare for the draft. McCaffrey did this because he feared that because of how much they needed him, and how often they used him he could run the risk of getting hurt. Now the Panthers need to be careful, and not make the same mistakes that Stanford did.
Coming out McCaffrey was thought of as the perfect fit for the New England Patriots. In the sense of how they run their offense, and what McCaffrey brings to the table. The Patriots have a slogan that says “Do Your Job”. This means that everyone contributes, and no one is picking up someone else’s slack. There was a discussion on ESPN’s First Take on whether or not McCaffrey could be Cam Newton‘s savior, and this is not the mentality the Panthers need for McCaffrey. McCaffrey doesn’t need to carry the ball 30 times and catch 10 passes a game. Jonathan Stewart needs to be able to run the ball consistently. Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess need to make their contributions. In short if the Panthers don’t do their job then Carolina will sputter no matter what McCaffrey does.
McCaffrey has been compared to Reggie Bush, but if McCaffrey has Reggie Bush’s NFL career it will be a disappointment. Now the Panthers do not need to abuse and shorten McCaffrey’s career. They need to treat him how the Pittsburgh Steelers treat Le’veon Bell. That’s where I think McCaffrey is on a scale, he could be Reggie Bush or he could be Le’veon Bell. He will be Reggie Bush if he is treated like he was at Stanford his junior year, and the Panthers will wind up like the Cardinal and not even win their division. Or he will be Le’veon Bell if he is treated like he was his sophomore year, and just like the Cardinals the Panthers will be in title contention.
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