Carolina rookie running back/receiver Christian McCaffrey had 21 touches (18 on offense, three on special teams) last week in the Panthers’ Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
This far outnumbered every other offensive skill player, except for running back Jonathan Stewart, who had 20 touches.
Head coach Ron Rivera remarked after the game that he’d like to see the distrubution to receivers increase, and offensive coordinator Mike Shula doubled down – but said this would take patience, as defenses begin keying in on McCaffrey in order to free up other playmakers.
Jourdan: You’d think that the “He said, she said” topic this week would all about former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott – now the Buffalo Bills head coach – and his ties to Carolina.
But actually, a major point of debate this week was the amount of touches McCaffrey got against the San Francisco 49ers – a lot more than any of the other Panthers pass catchers.
Joe: He got 21 touches, three of them in punt return. And it was a lot! His seven targets were as many as Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, the two starting wide receivers, got combined!
But my point is, this is the new-look offense. This is what Rivera and Shula signed up for. Is it always going to be such a big disparity? Probably not. But I think we should get used to seeing the ball in Christian McCaffrey’s hands a lot.
Jourdan: I think that, perhaps, the Panthers decided to use Christian so often last week not only to give (quarterback) Cam Newton the layup shots he needed to get his timing back, but also to show McDermott a healthy dose of “Christian McCaffrey” to get McDermott to cover McCaffrey, which would open up these other playmakers: Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Russell Shepard and all these guys Carolina wants to implement in its offense.
However, in a surprise twist of “He said, she said,” I think we might both be right this week. McCaffrey is the future of this offense. He’s a transformative player. But the Panthers also want him to open up other playmakers by drawing other players to him.
Joe: I agree with you. I think we’re still going to see a lot of McCaffrey, but of course it’s going to open up the field for other players. Olsen wants to get to 1,000 yards for the fourth time in a row, so it’ll be interesting as this thing goes forward.