Cleveland Browns remember identity with Kareem Hunt extension

Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Browns know their plan on offense

On Tuesday afternoon, the Cleveland Browns inked Kareem Hunt to a $13.5 million extension to keep the running back in Cleveland until 2023.

Heading into the season, the Browns already dawned ESPN’s best backfield duo in the NFL, a star-studded room featuring the Cleveland-native Hunt and Nick Chubb, the former second-round pick who was robbed of the rushing title last season.

When the Browns hired Kevin Stefanski, fans salivated at the thought of a run-first offense. Everything Stefanski did in Minnesota started with super-star running back Dalvin Cook and C.J. Ham, using the run game to set up the pass, a philosophy passed down from Gary Kubiak.

Dating back to the days of Jim Brown, Mike Pruitt, Kevin Mack, and Earnest Byner, the identity of the Cleveland Browns has been in the ground game. Throughout the franchise’s rich history, the Browns have always been best when running the ball. In recent memory, a big game on the ground from Peyton Hillis decimated the New England Patriots and even All-Pro Earl Thomas could not catch up to Nick Chubb last season in the win over Baltimore.

Cleveland wins in the run game. It’s who we are. A hard-working people, willing to grit it out it the trenches especially in the rain and snow that douses the AFC North each year.

Last season, Cleveland saw an offense where the Browns tried to force an air attack. Freddie Kitchens and Todd Monken, who notably clunked heads, shared a broken philosophy of letting quarterback Baker Mayfield fire the ball downfield at any given juncture. Of course, the big-namers needed to get fed, and they did. Odell Beckham Jr. eclipsed 1,000 yards and Jarvis Landry had one of his best NFL seasons. But the team was still awful.

Mayfield slumped and the offense struggled. The Browns were a team that played uninspired, and quite frankly, confused. Chubb was the one bright spot last season. Hunt was a superstar in Kansas City and a solid piece after coming back from his suspension.

Kitchens let his team go a full NFL season without establishing an identity, when the answer was right under his nose the entire time.

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With Chubb and Hunt both under contract until 2022 at minimum, the Cleveland Browns have two more seasons of the best running back tandem in the NFL. Pair that with a new play-caller that should run the ball, and the recipe for success this season should be plastered onto clipboards all over the sideline: Run the rock.