Nick Chubb concluded the 2020 season with his second straight Pro Bowl nod and his second consecutive 1000-yard rushing season. The production Chubb has provided on annual basis has been astounding for keeping the offense balanced. His performance this season is even more impressive given he missed four games due to injury. Heading into week four Nick Chubb had back-to-back games with over 105 rushing yards. During the road contest against the Dallas Cowboys, Chubb was averaging 7.1 yards per carry before being rolled on by a teammate causing a MCL sprain.
After missing four games and returning after the bye week, Nick Chubb picked up right where he left off. Averaging over 5.6 yards per carry in three straight contests, Chubb rushed for 126 yards against the Texans, 114 versus the Eagles and 144 on the road in Jacksonville. Chubb carried his success into the end zone rushing for a career high twelve touchdowns including three games with two rushing touchdowns.
Chubb’s vision, patience, unique blend of power and speed is the perfect complement to Kevin Stefanski’s zone run scheme. Yet, with all the talent in the world every running back gets bottled up in the run game. In both road games in New York against the Giants and Jets, Chubb ran for a combined 78 yards, averaging less than 3.5 yards per carry. The anomaly of those games was Stefanski’s lack of commitment to the run game against the Jets with four receivers on COVID/reserve. Fifteen total carries for the Wholesale Cleveland Browns Jerseys entire game was not anticipated by many especially against the lowly Jets at the time.
Chubb bounced back in the regular season finale rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown. The momentum carried into the post-season with a solid performance in the wildcard round with 145 scrimmage yards and a receiving touchdown. Now a two-time Pro Bowler Nick Chubb should continue to be a staple in the Browns offense.
841 Rushing Yards – 6 TDs
304 Receiving Yards – 5 TDs
74.4 Offense Grade (26th / 70)
75.1 Run Grade (27th / 48)
64.4 Receiving Grade (25th / 65)
Kareem Hunt made his presence known and reminded the NFL that he is still one of the most talented backs in the league. It is highlighted by his ability to hit holes with tenacity and finish runs fighting for extra yardage. Hunt finished the season with 465 yards after contact, the eleventh highest total of all running backs. The second skillset that makes Hunt so dangerous and valuable to the offense is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Kareem Hunt tied for the most receiving touchdowns (5) by running backs, only Alvin Kamara matched his total. Having a RB1 quality back as your RB2 is a great arsenal to utilize and Hunt proved to be great insurance when Nick Chubb went down with an injury. Hunt averaged over 4.2 yards per carry in two contests and scored touchdowns in two wins as well. Hunt’s value really maximized in week ten as he rushed for 108 yards in Nick Chubb’s first game back from injury.
Hunt’s performance and availability this season paid huge dividends for the Browns, after he signed a two-year extension last September. Hunt provides insurance to Nick Chubb in both the short term and long term. His play on the field is inspiring and brings intensity when the offense is driving down the field. As long as he remains healthy he should continue to have a role in this offense next season.
166 Rushing Yards
65.2 Offense Grade
69.4 Run Grade
D’Ernest Johnson is the final running back to make himself fond of by the fan base. Johnson being the third back in a talented running back group did not leave many opportunities. In order to find to ways to get on the field Johnson’s impact came via special teams. In the back half of the season Johnson added a spark to the kick return unit averaging over 26 yards per return in four games.
In terms of running the ball D’Ernest biggest impact came in week four against the Cowboys. His performance came on the heel of Chubb’s injury and Johnson rushed for 95 yards on 13 attempts. Johnson’s production on the road showed his ability to help close out a game to chew clock. The following game against the Colts, he ripped off a 28-yard run to ice the game in the fourth. Outside of these special moments Johnson was relatively quiet the remainder of the season.
As stated previously it is hard to get touches in such a talented backfield but Johnson fulfilled his role successfully last season. He stepped up when his number was called and provided value on special teams. Those are the characteristics coach look for in depth-rotational guys and D’Ernest Johnson earned the right to fight for a roster spot next season.
Overall the Cleveland Browns are primed to find more success in the running game next season as long as Chubb and Hunt remain healthy. One of the biggest conversation topics this offseason will be Nick Chubb’s contract situation as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Chubb’s contract expiration does not come with the same flexibility as Baker Mayfield’s or Denzel Ward’s due to the lack of a fifth-year team option. In turn GM Andrew Berry has a big decision looming on Nick Chubb’s future with the Cleveland Browns.
Looking into the long term, Kareem Hunt is the only running back under contract after next season. The talent in the backfield will be vital to future offensive success given its heavy use of playaction. There are worries Nick Chubb’s next contract could be too expensive for Andrew Berry’s liking. No matter who it comes from Chubb will be getting big money next season. Given that Chubb’s cap hit next year is only $2.34 million which is less than Hunt’s $5 million cap hit, the Browns should not be too stingy and extend their star running back long term.