What we are going to do with the series – Season For The Ages – is look at a player who put together a historic season, for one reason or another – usually statistically, sometimes historically, and then inform you as to why it should be considered a “season for the ages”
In the first edition we are going to look at the Carolina Panther’s running back Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season.
The significant accomplishment of note that McCaffrey attained in 2019 was becoming only the 3rd player in NFL history to accumulate 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving. He rushed for 1,387 yards on 287 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns, along with 116 catches for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns. With this he joins the San Francisco 49ers’ Roger Craig who did it in 1985 and the St. Louis Rams’ Marshall Faulk who reached 1000 yard rushing and receiving plateau in 1999.
Skeptics may argue – and correctly so – that the rule changes that came about in and around 2003, made the game more conducive for offensive players and encapsulated by the significant uptick in offensive numbers since then. Thus, certain things need to be taken into consideration. Fair enough.
On the flip side both Craig and Faulk played in outstanding offensive systems, led by Hall Of Fame Quarterbacks. In the former’s case he played in the heralded West Coast Offence – which can be said, is the greatest offensive system in NFL history (it’s produced the most Super Bowl winning teams) – and it was guided by Joe Montana (a four-time Super Bowl winner, three-time Super Bowl MVP and two time NFL MVP).
The offensive system/ scheme that Faulk played in the “Greatest Show On Turf”, was a spin off from the Air Coryell offence invented in the early 1980’s by coach Don Coryell, which was the same offence the Dallas Cowboys used to win three Super Bowls in four years in the 1990’s. Not to mention the Rams offence was led by two time NFL MVP Kurt warner who won his first in that 1999 season along with the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP.
McCaffrey on the other hand lost his starting quarterback and 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton after week 2 of the 2019 season and had to play the remaining 14 games with Kyle Allen under center, and for some time, Will Grier. If that wasn’t tumultuous enough, Carolina fired their head coach Ron Rivera after 12 games, leaving the team in an even greater state of disarray. They went 0-4 with interim coach Perry Fewell after starting the season 5-7 under Rivera.
Despite these setbacks, McCaffrey still finished 4th in the league with 86.7 rushing yards a game, and 2nd with 116 receptions. But his most outstanding statistical feat was not only leading the NFL with 2,392 yards from scrimmage, but the amount in which he distanced himself from his nearest rival. Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot finished 2nd with 1,777. So if you’re counting that is 615 yards less! Again if you’re doing the math that is 38.4 yards a game.
His season may have some drawbacks as he “only” had six 100 yard rushing games, but he did have 5 games with at least 10 receptions (from the running back position with Allen as his QB) including a career best 15 in Week 16 vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
While other players – Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and New Orleans Saints wide out Michael Thomas – had terrific seasons themselves and put up lofty numbers in 2019, Christian McCaffrey deserves his due as well, as he did have a season for the ages.