August 14, 2020
But what’s pretty awkward is the way McFarland and Kellerman totally ignored McCaffrey during the debate, leading to some mega-awkwardness and disrespect aplenty.Who’s the best RB in the NFL?No one on the @FirstTake set held anything back while debating, including Christian McCaffrey himself 🔥 pic.twitter.com/EEP0RjDr0c— ESPN (@espn) January 31, 2020MORE: McCaffrey talks future with Matt Rhule, Joe Brady and Cam NewtonThe segment itself is cringey: two dudes debating is one thing, but talking about NFL running backs in front of McCaffrey — who put together an MVP-type season — as if he isn’t there is just maximum cringeyness. McCaffrey deserves a lot of credit for not blowing up the whole thing, though his clear looks of confusion with a dash of disgust were apparent (like his talent on a football field).For some reason, it seems like McFarland’s opinion on McCaffrey as a runner is very skewed, saying he prefers Ezekiel Elliott to McCaffrey. McFarland made matters worse by demonstrating that he might not understand the way modern NFL offenses function in 2020.”I want to pound the rock, I don’t need my running back to catch the ball,” McFarland said. McCaffrey shot back with a perfectly incredulous response: “Do I not pound the rock?”Obviously, McCaffrey is coming off his strongest season in the NFL and living up to all of the hype as both a runner and a receiver. But McFarland’s staunch preference of Elliott over McCaffrey seems misguided at best.Let’s go to the stats:Rushing yards: McCaffrey, 1,387; Elliott, 1,357Rushing yards per game: McCaffrey, 86.7; Elliott, 84.8Rushing attempts per game: McCaffrey, 17.9; Elliott, 18.8Rushing yards per attempt: McCaffrey, 4.8; Elliott, 4.5So, overall, it’s close — if you’re considering strictly the rushing attack. If nothing else, Christian McCaffrey has certainly cemented himself as one of the most patient running backs in football. Maybe not for his running style, but his ability to keep his cool in interviews.On Friday’s episode of “First Take,” Max Kellerman, flanked by “Monday Night Football” analyst Booger McFarland, discussed McCaffrey’s case as the best running back in football, something totally acceptable to do on an ESPN debate show. When you factor in the passing game, McCaffrey blows Zeke out of the water. McCaffrey had 1,005 receiving yards this season while Elliott, less utilized in the passing game, had just 420 receiving yards in 2020.There’s also the case of the offensive lines. While the Panthers O-line finished the season strong, per Pro Football Focus, Carolina had the 18th-ranked offensive line, while the Cowboys’ unit was No. 4 overall. But, regardless of how you feel about the debate, a little more decorum should be in place for a guest like Run-CMC.