By Shan Reddy
You couldn’t go anywhere near sports Twitter this past weekend without seeing highlights of the best active player in the NFL to have come through Stanford all over your feed. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey put on a stunning performance against the feeble Jacksonville Jaguars defense on Sunday that has put him solidly in the MVP conversation. He racked up an absolutely incredible 176 yards and two touchdowns rushing along with 61 yards and a touchdown receiving, tying his own franchise record with 237 total yards from scrimmage. On the Panthers’ first offensive play of the second half, McCaffrey exploded for an 84-yard touchdown run to put Carolina up two scores. The run was the longest by a Panthers player in franchise history.
McCaffrey has had a historic start to the NFL season, and has racked up more yards himself (866) than the entire New York Jets offense (718) so far. He’s on pace to have 2,771 yards from scrimmage, a mark which would break Chris Johnson’s record of 2,509 set 10 years ago. McCaffrey now tops all NFL running backs in just about every statistical category: rushing yards (587), carries (105), yards per game (117.4) and carries per game (21.0).
Putting on another strong performance this week was McCaffrey’s former teammate, Houston Texans safety Justin Reid. Reid helped lead a Texans secondary that did their best to slow down All-Pro Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who was held to just three catches for 42 yards on the day. Reid racked up eight tackles, adding to a season total of 32 good for third-highest among all NFL safeties this season.
This week saw another strong performances from Stanford’s top-two NFL tight ends: Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro Zach Ertz and Atlanta Falcons third-rounder Austin Hooper. Ertz led the Eagles in receiving yards (57) on Sunday en route to a crushing 31-6 victory over the Jets, also grabbing a touchdown to end the first half. Hooper backed up a career performance last weekend with another strong day, leading the Falcons in receptions (6) on a team-high nine targets. Ertz and Hooper now rank fourth and second, respectively, in receptions by a tight end this season.
Perhaps the weekend’s most unexpected and dominating performance came on Monday night at the unrelenting hands of the San Francisco 49ers, who beat down a Cleveland Browns team that looked like a true throwback to their historically horrible teams of earlier this decade. After going three-and-out on their first drive of the game, former number-one-overall pick Baker Mayfield led the Browns to a quick 15-second drive that was cut short by former Cardinal defensive back and NFL All-Pro Richard Sherman, who put on a showing for the 49ers in front of their home crowd. Sherman locked down Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. all game long, holding the former Offensive Rookie of the Year to just two catches for 27 yards.
With Christian “Run CMC” McCaffrey leading the way, Stanford’s small but mighty contingent of players in the NFL continued to thrive in Week 5.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.