Christian McCaffrey was actually holding the Carolina Panthers back, huh?
Okay, not really. McCaffrey was fantastic in his final six games with the team this season and would still be the best player on the roster if he was there today. But he’s not there today, and the Panthers’ rushing game has taken off since.
In those six games with their All-Pro running back, Carolina averaged 90.3 yards with three touchdowns on the ground while going 1-5. Now, in the first four games of the post-CMC era, they rushed for 159.5 yards per outing and seven touchdowns with a 2-2 mark.
Much of that success can, obviously, be attributed to D’Onta Foreman—who has stepped up in the absence (this time a permanent one) of another premier runner for the second straight season. He’s gone for 389 yards and four scores, highlighted by a career-high three-touchdown performance back in Week 8.
Some more props can also be handed out to center Bradley Bozeman, who has also flourished as a replacement. In place of previous starter Pat Elflein, Bozeman has helped pave the way up the middle—earning a run-blocking grade of 76.4 from Pro Football Focus (his career-best to this point) over his four starts.
So it seems—from their head coach to a few of their key positions—that the Panthers just needed a little “next man up” mentality to breathe some life into their 2022 campaign.