Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb had a stellar rookie season, but will he be able to avoid a sophomore slump in 2019?
Nick Chubb started the 2018 season as the Cleveland Browns’ third-string running back and only received limited carries to start the season. But he was able to turn those limited carries into big plays and made the Browns coaching staff reconsider his role.
In the first six games last season, Chubb rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. The fast start to the season for Chubb set the tone for the rest of his rookie year once he became the team’s starter.
Chubb finished the season with 996 yards and eight touchdowns on 192 carries after playing in all 16 games, including nine starts. He also caught 20 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
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But similar to most running backs in the NFL, there are questions if Chubb can sustain that type of success with a similar, or even increased workload the next season. However, Chubb is still expected to take another step forward in 2019 and finish as one of the league’s best rushers.
During the draft process last offseason, Chubb was viewed as a power runner who would grind his way to get yards. But he proved several times that he was an elusive runner who can make defenders miss, and then showed the speed to breakaway for big runs.
Chubb showing the strength to run between the tackles but the agility to make plays on the edge has NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal believing that Chubb will shine in 2019 and avoid the sophomore slump. He even believes Chubb shows the same traits as Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.
"I’m not saying Chubb will have Smith’s career, but Chubb could go from an impressive, underestimated supporting player as a rookie like Smith to the guy everyone is writing about because his numbers demand attention. Smith jumped from 1,165 yards from scrimmage as a rookie to 1,821 as a second-year player, the type of jump that is within Chubb’s grasp. Give Chubb the ball and good things happen. – Rosenthal, NFL.com"
With the amount of weapons on the offensive side of the ball for the Browns, Chubb is sometimes the forgotten man. But he could prove to be one of the biggest weapons for the Browns if he is able to build on last season.
Because of the amount of threats the Browns have in the passing game, Chubb may not have to deal with as many loaded boxes in 2019 as he did last season. Even when he faced loaded boxes last season, he was one of the best and most efficient runners in the league.
Defenses may decide to drop more players into coverage this upcoming season to prevent the Browns from picking them apart through the air. But if they do that, it will give Chubb more initial running lanes to create chunk plays.
And once Kareem Hunt returns from his eight-game suspension in 2019, it will take some snaps off Chubb, keeping him fresher throughout the course of games and the back-end of the season. By having a back like Hunt playing next to Chubb, both players should be effective late in games.
Chubb showed why he can be a successful running back during his rookie season, and even had flashes of being a top back in the NFL. Now that he is playing in a loaded offense in 2019, he should expect to have even more success and avoid the sophomore slump.