Sep 12, 2019

Christian McCaffrey and Devin White highlight the NFL's speed revolution

Photo: Bernhard Lang/Getty Images

From the "Air Raid" to run-pass options (RPOs), modern NFL offenses are more dangerous than ever because of one word: space. They use the whole field — and they're fast.

The impact: This evolution has resulted in a revolution at multiple positions, both on offense and defense.

  • The ground-and-pound running back has morphed into a versatile, all-around threat who can line up anywhere on the field and create a mismatch.
  • The run-stopping inside linebacker has morphed into a speed demon, capable of rushing the QB and defending slot receivers/pass-catching TEs.
  • The slot, or "nickel," cornerback, formerly a third-down reserve, has morphed into a de facto starter and one of the most important positions on the team.

When the Panthers host the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football (8:20pm ET, NFLN), we'll get to see 2 of these modern "archetypes" go head-to-head. They'll be matched up all over the field.

Christian McCaffrey. Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
  • Name: Christian McCaffrey
  • Archetype: Versatile RB threat; Playmaker
  • The big picture: "McCaffrey played football, basketball, baseball, and track throughout his youth. … Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that these all-around athletes [are] the key to the future of the NFL." (The Ringer)
Devin White. Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • Name: Devin White
  • Archetype: Coverage LB; Sideline-to-sideline
  • By the numbers: 3 teams have used top-10 picks on coverage linebackers in the last 2 years: Roquan Smith (Bears, 2018), White (Buccaneers, 2019) and Devin Bush (Steelers, 2019). 10–20 years ago, these guys would have been safeties.

Go deeper

In photos: 2020 Democratic candidates flock to Iowa steak fry

The crowd at the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday. Photo: Polk County Democrats/Facebook

Organizers of the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, say more than 12,200 attend Saturday's event, as 17 of the 19 Democratic presidential candidates made their pitch to voters in the state.

The big picture: The gathering comes less than 5 months ahead of the Iowa caucuses —the first to take place in the U.S.

See photosArrowSep 22, 2019

NFL sends less-winning teams to play in London for 25th time

Chicago Bears running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. (38) and Chicago Bears runningback David Montgomery (32) at summer training camp. The team will be playing in London against the Oakland Raiders. Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

On Sunday, the NFL will play its 25th regular-season game in London. And for the 25th straight time, the game will not feature 2 winning teams (3-1 Bears vs. 2-2 Raiders).

Why it matters: The NFL has been going to London since 2007 — the same year that the first iPhone debuted and "Superbad" came out — and they have yet to organize a single football game between 2 teams with winning records.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

In photos: A tale of 2 cities on 70th anniversary of Communist China

The Tiananmen Square parade in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China showed off a new hypersonic ballistic nuclear missile, the DF-17, as it displayed its military might during a grand parade in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule, AP reports. But clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong cast a shadow over celebrations.

The big picture: Hong Kong authorities had tried to thwart protesters as Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw the Beijing parade that showcased some 15,000 soldiers and 100,000 performers, per the New York Times. Hong Kong went into unprecedented lockdown, Reuters notes. But tens of thousands of protesters defied a ban on marches and attended rallies throughout the city, per Bloomberg.

See photosArrowUpdated Oct 1, 2019