There have only ever been three 1,000/1,000 men in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey became the latest this past season, joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.
Not only did McCaffrey have a 1,000-1,000 season, the Panthers running back finished with 2,392 yards from scrimmage. Finishing third on the all-time list for yards from scrimmage in a year.
That’s just 117 yards short of matching the phenomenal 2,509 yards put together in the 2009 season by 2000 yard man Chris Johnson. Who in turn had broken the record set by Marshall Faulk in 1999 of 2,429 yards set as part of his own 1,000-1,000 season.
So let’s take a look at the 1,000-1,000 men and the seasons in which they put the numbers up…
Roger Craig the first 1000/1000 man
Roger Craig was the first player to achieve a 1,000-1,000 season. In 1985 he ran for 1,050 yards and received the ball covering 1,016 yards.
Chosen by the 49ers in the second round of the 1983 NFL draft to address the unsettled situation at running back, Craig was better known in college for his blocking ability.
However teamed at fullback with veteran acquisition RB Wendell Tyler he gained 1152 yards from scrimmage in 1984 (725 rushing, 427 receiving). The versatility was already there and the Niners took note.
1,000/1,000 Season Stats: 214 carries, 1,050 yards & 9 touchdowns. 92 receptions for 1,106 yards and 6 touchdowns. 306 touches, 2,066 yards total. Second team All-Pro.
A central figure on three Super Bowl champions, Craig was arguably the prototype for how running backs would go on to be used. A template of versatility followed by the likes of Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Craig wasn’t only the first back to have a 1,000-yard rushing, 1,000-yard receiving season. He was also the first running back with more than 90 catches in a season. As well as being the first player to make the Pro Bowl as both a fullback and a halfback. Not to mention being the first player to score three touchdowns in a single Super Bowl — one rushing, two receiving.
Roger Craig was a key component in legitimizing Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. In 1988 he was the AP Offensive Player of the Year with 1,502 rushing yards, 76 pass receptions, and 10 Touchdowns.
But it is because of his 1985 season, and his key role in three Super Bowl winning teams that he is best remembered.
Marshall Faulk the second 1000/1000 man
Marshall Faulk became the second player in NFL history to achieve a 1,000-1,000 season. In 1999 he ran for 1,381 yards and his 87 receptions garnered 1,048 yards.
Faulk had started out life in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts in 1994. That season he rushed for 1,282 yards, 11 touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown. Going on to be named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. In his last year with the Colts, (1998) he had put up 2,227 yards from scrimmage serving notice of his versatility.
It was during his first Season with the St Louis Rams that Faulk set his 1,000-1,000 mark. That was part of an NFL-record 4 consecutive 2,000+ total-yard seasons.
1,000/1,000 season stats: 253 carries, 1,381 yards and 7 touchdowns. 87 receptions for 1,048 yards and 5 touchdowns. 340 touches 2,429 yards total. NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Like Craig before him, Faulk was central to the development of an offensive scheme. This time it was Mike Martz and his ‘Greatest Show on Turf‘ that were the beneficiaries.
From 1999-2001 the Rams were a truly dominant attacking team. They set numerous records for passing and overall yardage. At the centre of it all was Faulk. From 1999-2001 he totaled 6,765 total yards of offense (4,122 rushing and 2,643 receiving) and won the Most Valuable Player award and three Offensive Player of the Year awards. Adding 59 touchdowns over three seasons wasn’t too bad either!
The Rams appeared in two Super Bowl games winning one of them during this span too. After the 2005 season Faulk retired with 19,154 yards from scrimmage and 136 touchdowns. They were soon finding him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For Marshall Faulk the peak was being the first player in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four straight seasons (1998-2001). The peak of that peak was the 1,000-1,000 season he put together in 1999.
Christian McCaffrey: The third 1000/1000 man
McCaffrey became the third 1,000-1,000 player during the NFL’s centenary season. In 2019 he ran for 1,387 yards and added 1,005 yards through the air.
He joined this exclusive club in only his third season as a pro running back. McCaffrey is a Swiss army knife type of player showing, and perhaps extending the versatility of the two men discussed above.
His 116 catches for the 2019 season, saw him become the first running back in league history to have two 100-catch seasons. McCaffrey broke his own record of 107 catches, which was the previous most by a running back in a year, set in 2018.
1,000/1,000 season stats: 287 carries, 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns. 116 catches for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns. 403 touches for 2,392 yards total. First team All-Pro.
In just three seasons McCaffrey has established himself in the NFL, already accounting for 5,443 yards from scrimmage in his short career. He may only have 1 Pro Bowl and 1 All-Pro nod but if he continues at this rate there will be more to come.
It will be fascinating to see in the fantasy football age if he can remain a stud. And how long his frame can withstand the rigours the Panthers dependence on him are putting it through.
Could we see another 1000/1000 season?
When the NFL has just celebrated its’ 100th season it is really straightforward to work out percentages. For instance as 3 men have done it we know a 1,000-1,000 season has only been seen in 3% of the NFL seasons played.
We can see how difficult it can be to achieve a 1,000-1,000 season by their rarity. It has not been achieved in the CFL at all, and they have a longer season. Andrew Harris came close recently. But it is a record still waiting to be broken North of the border.
However, despite all that we can remain optimistic. It has been done, so it can be done again. Plus the game is constantly evolving. We may come to expect backs to run and receive a lot more in the future. None of us know if or when it will happen again, but it’s going to be fun watching and finding out.
Featured image: Roger Craig with ball in hand – a sight opponents were used to in the 1980’s. Image from thegruellingtruth.com