Sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough space to dump all the football grey matter rumbling around my brain, and I have to venture back into the realm of article writing and put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Here are some off-season musings I’ve had related to OTAs, rookie drafts and player values.
I like Christian McCaffrey. I like his running style in space, his versatility as a receiver and even his ability to grind between the tackles. I like the landing spot, his fit in the Carolina running scheme and I’d feel the same way even if the Panthers had drafted an additional five cloned copies of Curtis Samuel. Heck, I even like the way his silly “Run CMC” nickname flows from my lips as I pound on my keyboard.
McCaffrey’s vision and balance produce quite a harmonious melody, working in unison to create a type of running back “spidey-sense” which allows CMC to adjust to defensive penetration at the line of scrimmage. McCaffrey consistently presses even slight creases, creating cutback lanes at each level of the defense. If you combine the threat of Cam Newton keeping the ball and McCaffrey’s ability to read, react and press a crease – it creates a perfect storm of terrible defensive pursuit angles. Aggressive play calling or hesitation by the defense, it really won’t matter as Cam and McCaffrey – in an inside zone scheme – will force a bevy of poor angles on defensive front-sevens. And even if the Panthers want Cam to run less, he could be a more effective threat with fewer attempts alongside an angle crusher like CMC.
Many have discussed Newton’s lack of touch and insistence on forcing velocity in the short passing game as a negative to McCaffrey’s involvement as a receiver. There’s a big difference between “hasn’t” and “can’t” when it comes to evaluating Cam’s short game skills. I’m betting it’s a fixable shortcoming and not a fatal flaw. I am, however, willing to admit it may take some time for Cam to work off the rust since he’s losing practice time rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
Finally, I’m not too worried about Jonathan Stewart or Cam and their propensity to dominate goal line work. McCaffrey’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field and not all touchdowns come from three yards out and a cloud of dust.
Other rookie thoughts….
Leo is a member of the FSWA.
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