There are quite a few people out there that think Panthers’ running back, Christian McCaffrey, deserves to be in the conversation for NFL MVP. On one hand, it’s only week six and it’s a little early for that talk. On the other hand, it is fun to think about. After all, there really aren’t many positive things to think about this season, aside from the defense and McCaffrey. Yes, Kyle Allen is doing decent at quarterback, but everyone knows Cam will be back soon.
Back to the topic at hand. Christian McCaffrey is having a really good start to the season, with the exception of the Tampa Bay game. In five weeks, CMC is leading the league in all-purpose yards by over 120. He is currently on pace for 1,878 yards rushing, 893 yards receiving and 22 total touchdowns. That’s a pretty solid stat line for any running back, but is it MVP worthy?
That’s kind of a loaded question, as there are many variables involved. First, the league usually gives the MVP award to the best quarterback in the league. Right now, the only quarterback playing well enough to earn the MVP award, is Patrick Mahomes. Russell Wilson of Seattle is also starting to heat up. In most cases, when a running back has won the MVP award, the quarterbacks in that same year have struggled. For instance, in 2012 when Adrian Peterson won the MVP award, the top 3 quarterbacks were Matt Stafford, Drew Brees and Tony Romo. Stafford threw 17 interceptions and Brees and Romo both threw 19 interceptions. All three quarterbacks struggled to get wins, too.
Speaking of wins, that’s another thing that the league looks at when deciding who deserves the MVP award. Since 2004, of all the teams who had MVPs, their respective records have been at least 12-4. There have been two exceptions, as Matt Ryan’s Falcons won 11 games and Adrian Peterson’s Vikings won 10 games. Bottom line is, every team in the last 20 years that has the MVP, has made the playoffs. With Carolina sitting at 3-2, it’s hard to tell how their record will fall. It’s still early in the season, but the defense and CMC look like they can keep it going, at least until Cam is able to come back and take some pressure off of McCaffrey.
When Adrian Peterson won the MVP award in 2012, he had over 2,000 yards rushing. In the last 20 years, four running backs have won the MVP award. Of those four, they all had either over 2,000 total yards from scrimmage, or 25+ touchdowns. Given McCaffrey’s current pace, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for McCaffrey to have over 2,500 yards from scrimmage. He could also have over 25 total touchdowns, given he has a penchant for getting multiple touchdown games.
Other MVP award winning running backs:
• 2006 Ladanian Tomlinson – 1,815 rushing yards, 508 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns
• 2005 Shaun Alexander – 1,880 rushing yards, 78 receiving yards and 28 total touchdowns
• 2000 Marshall Faulk – 1,359 rushing yards, 830 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns
If McCaffrey can keep this train going, he is on pace to surpass these four running backs. As a matter of fact, he’s on pace to surpass Chris Johnson’s record of most yards from scrimmage in a season by 262 yards. In 2009, Johnson had 2,509 yards from scrimmage. If McCaffrey does break the yards from scrimmage record, that could help catapult him ahead of everyone in the MVP race. Oh, and McCaffrey has joined NFL Hall of Fame great, Jim Brown, as the only other player to average 175 yards from scrimmage in four of his first five games. The NFL record for most 175 yard games in a season is six, and McCaffrey has the potential to tie that record in week eight.
Christian McCaffrey is one of the most exciting players in the NFL and he’s really fun to watch. There’s little doubt that he will be in the MVP race for the rest of the year, given the pace at which he plays. As a matter of fact, if voting were done today, he should be the odds all favorite to win. The guy exemplifies hard work on and off the field. If CMC keeps this going, it’ll be a historic season for him and the Panthers. With any luck, Carolina will keep pumping out wins while McCaffrey puts the team on his back. Again, it’s far too early to name the MVP, but McCaffrey has been great through the first five weeks. He’s earned the right to be in the conversation. So until it’s time to vote, enjoy the greatness…..because you could be watching history in the making.