(MVP?) Christian McCaffrey on pace to break NFL's scrimmage yards record

Christian McCaffrey has been nothing short of brilliant through the first five weeks of the 2019 NFL season.

The do-it-all running back for the Carolina Panthers continues to run rampant on the league after tallying 237 total yards and three touchdowns in a 34-27 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. At this rate, McCaffrey is on pace to shatter the NFL’s single-season all-purpose yards record set by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson 10 years ago.

McCaffrey currently leads the NFL with 805 yards from scrimmage. That’s a 2,771-yard pace and 262 yards more than Johnson’s 2,509 yards in 2009. Johnson did most of his damage on the ground in that historic season as he rushed for 2,006 yards. McCaffrey is dividing it up a bit more evenly between rushing and receiving yards. He leads the NFL with 587 rushing yards on 86 attempts and has 279 receiving yards.

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McCaffrey’s excellence through the first five weeks has also put him in exclusive company. According to Elias, McCaffrey has joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only other running back with at least 175 scrimmage yards in four of his team’s first five games. Brown finished that 1963 season with 2,131 total yards in 14 games.

The NFL record for most games with 175 or more scrimmage yards in a season is six. It’s possible for McCaffrey to tie that record by Week 8. He ranks first in the league in touches and has been on the field for 98 percent of Carolina’s snaps. He has also been great at breaking big plays. He has touchdown runs of 84 and 76 yards already this season.

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey goes airborne for a touchdown on Sunday against the Jaguars. (AP)
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey goes airborne for a touchdown on Sunday against the Jaguars. (AP)

MVP candidate?

McCaffrey is looking like an MVP candidate through Week 5 of the NFL season. His production has been off the charts and he checks off a lot of the boxes necessary to win the award, except for his position. Quarterbacks have won the MVP award 38 times in 57 seasons. Just 16 running backs have won since 1961. Adrian Peterson, who won the league MVP in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards, is the most recent running back to win the award.

McCaffrey will, of course, have some stiff competition. Patrick Mahomes is putting up a strong defense of his 2018 MVP and Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson are perennial MVP contenders.

Like those quarterbacks, McCaffrey has become one of the most exciting players in the NFL. Sure, there’s a chance that his production will drop off if he continues to get the ball at his current rate, but he looks nowhere close to slowing down anytime soon.

McCaffrey was an all-purpose star before 2019

We all knew McCaffrey was an explosive player and this is another level for the third-year back. After a middling rookie season, McCaffrey became an integral part of the Panthers offense in 2018 with over 1,000 yards on the ground and 103 receptions for 867 yards.

This is why the Panthers drafted him eighth overall in 2017. McCaffrey tore it up in college at Stanford, pilling up 6,191 all-purpose yards in three seasons with the Cardinal. During his sophomore season in 2015, McCaffrey led the nation with 2,664 yards from scrimmage and was second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry and ahead of Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson.

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