It seems as if Nick Chubb will be back for the Cleveland Browns
It’s been since Week 4 at the Dallas Cowboys that the Cleveland Browns have had Nick Chubb in the fold. During that game at Jerry World, in what was a wild 49-38 win for Cleveland, Chubb, unfortunately, suffered an MCL injury in the first quarter.
He’s missed Cleveland’s past four games in Weeks 5-8, and in that span, the Browns have gone 2-2.
Cleveland grinded out a victory over the Indianapolis Colts, got blown out at the Pittsburgh Steelers, won a thriller at the Cincinnati Bengals and pre-bye, lost in ugly fashion to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Anyhow, while it’s a positive that the Browns are 5-3 heading into Sunday’s Week 10 matchup versus the Houston Texans, it’s evident that Cleveland’s missed the presence and production of Chubb. That’s not exactly breaking news, no, but this tweet from CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday was so telling.
That CBS Sports HQ tweet shows Chubb’s invaluable for the Browns
Now, it’s not a certainty that Chubb will be back for Cleveland this week just yet, but this report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport leads me to believe that we’ll see Cleveland’s RB 1 back out there on Sunday.
As that CBS Sports HQ tweet demonstrated, the Cleveland Browns rushing attack, which is in large part, their offensive engine when fully equipped, hasn’t been the same. The Orange and Brown’s rushing attack was 24th in rushing yards per game, 26th in yards per rush, and dead last in rush TD’s in Weeks 5-9, as that tweet hit on. Granted, Cleveland was on the bye week in Week 9, although the yards/game and yards/rush clip hit was especially telling.
And for the Browns to close out the second half of the season strong, it’s evident that Chubb is such an integral piece for them. Now, Kareem Hunt did a pretty solid job stepping into the lead back role and is tied for ninth in rushing first downs on the season with 30.
But it’s apparent that Cleveland is considerably better off with Hunt in the RB 2 role, as while the opponents had some to do with it, Hunt averaged 5.5 yards per carry in Weeks 1-4 and had five total touchdowns.
Conversely, in Weeks 5-9, he averaged just 3.9 and had no rushing touchdowns. Hunt did have 10 catches for 71 yards and two receiving touchdowns, though, albeit it’s not a secret that Chubb is truly invaluable for Cleveland’s offense.
When Chubb is toting the mail, it lends to Hunt being much more potent in a change-of-pace type role, and really helps out Baker Mayfield/leads to him often having more open throws.
Mayfield has had his hand in contributing to winning for Cleveland, too, however, and one shouldn’t discount that, either. And this tweet from Pro Football Focus shows how Mayfield’s been very productive in the red zone thus far this season (not including Week 9).
Nonetheless, for Mayfield, Cleveland’s offense, Hunt and/or the passing game, when Chubb is in there, they’re just more multiple, and it’s more reasonable for intermediate looks/shots to be there — even without Odell Beckham Jr. still.
Perhaps just as importantly, though, if Chubb can hopefully go, along with right guard Wyatt Teller, whose done a tremendous job thus far but has missed most of Cleveland’s last four games due to a calf strain, that could help out Cleveland’s defense via more ball control.
Moreover, let’s hope that Chubb, whose truly an invaluable piece, is able to go on Sunday. If that’s the case, the Browns can potentially be able to control games and/or help Mayfield, who will be active after being in COVID-19 exposure protocol, as DPD’s Randy Gurzi hit on, more.
Through three-plus games, Chubb’s had 335 yards, averaged 5.9 yards per carry, and had four rushing TD’s, for further context. Hopefully, he’s back again soon, along with Teller, albeit not rushed back; that wouldn’t appear to have been the case, though.