The first big challenge the Las Vegas Raiders will face in the 2020 season will be against Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. The All-Pro presents a dual-threat that can score in the air or on the ground. Fortunately, the Silver and Black seem to have the personnel to stop him in their Week 1 matchup.
The Panthers offense runs through McCaffrey
McCaffrey is arguably the best running back in the NFL. What makes him so great is the fact he can line up at wide receiver without missing a beat. Last season, he had 287 carries for 1,387 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Moreover, he hauled in 116 passes for 1,005 yards and four receiving touchdowns. As the focal point of the Panthers offense, it wasn’t surprising to see him get a four-year $64 million contract this offseason.
Although Carolina has a pair of solid wide receivers in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, the Raiders will likely prioritize stopping McCaffrey. After all, he accounted for 15 of the Panthers’ 20 rushing touchdowns. Similarly, he caught four of their 17 receiving touchdowns. Simply put, Carolina’s offense runs through him and as long as the Raiders don’t overlook Moore and Anderson, they will be fine.
The Raiders brought in some players precisely for these kinds of situations
As good as McCaffrey is, the Raiders have the right players to minimize the impact the running back will have. After having one of the worst defenses in the league in recent years, they started a rebuild last year when they drafted Johnathan Abram and added Lamarcus Joyner. This year, they stopped signing bargain linebackers and brought in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. With the best back-seven the team has had, they should have a shot at stopping McCaffrey when they face the Panthers.
In an conversation with the Silver and Black Show, Gruden says the Raiders have build a team that can stop players such as McCaffrey.
You have to have athletes that can make one-on-one tackles in space. That’s why [Cory] Littleton is here. That’s why we drafted John Abram, that’s why we brought Joyner here from the Rams. They have to make some tough plays in space and we’ll see what happens.
The Raiders have a better team on paper than the Panthers, but if they want to beat them, they need to neutralize the damage McCaffrey can make. We will find out soon how the Silver and Black personnel matches up against the All-Pro running back.
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Top Photo: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP Pool