The Cleveland Browns have not quite lived up to expectations this year, but these three players are living up to the hype
This has been a tough season for the Cleveland Browns.
Entering Week 9, they’re just 4-4 and have lost three of their last four games. They have also had far too much off-field noise centered around a certain wide receiver.
However, this isn’t about the drama but instead a look at three players who have gone above and beyond this season. Here are a few heroes for the Browns in 2021.
Cleveland Browns Hero No. 3: Every Running Back
Before the Week 7 match up against the Denver Broncos, it was widely acknowledged that Cleveland was home to the best running back room in the NFL. Coming out of that game, the already respected backfield demanded the world give it even more.
With both star running backs out, D’Ernest Johnson made the most of his first career start. Gashing the Denver defense for 146 yards on the ground and a score, he earned himself one of the best individual pro football focus grades of the season.
When your third-string running back is averaging 6.6 yards a carry, that run game is doing something right. Cleveland has the best run-blocking offensive line in football, but in this game, Johnson was responsible for the magic. His vision and ability to cut and create were truly something special to watch. His slow grind mentality has finally paid off and has now proven he is more than serviceable if Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt are unavailable.
Let’s not get caught up in the moment though. The Browns missed Chubb’s presence during his injury. Prior to his injury against the Chargers, he was second in the league in rushing, only behind the workhorse Derrick Henry. Even after missing two full games, he ranks third in the NFL.
Chubb also has the title of the third most efficient running back, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. One could make the argument that Nick Chubb is the best pure rusher in the league. His consistency and efficiency have provided one of the few electric aspects of the offense this year.
There is not a better “backup” running back in football than Kareem Hunt. He would be a starter on about 20-plus teams in the NFL. His skillset provides the perfect complement to Nick Chubb’s physical ground and pound game.
Hunt’s ability to be effective in the pass game makes him a primary security blanket for Baker Mayfield and has been a third-down savior over and over. His best trait is not his pass-catching though, it is his motor and effort. He runs every play like it is going to be the last snap he ever sees.
Health and physical well-being are not things he is concerned about, not in the slightest. Do yourself a favor and just watch him at the end of every play. His body is upside down, sideways, and twisted around. Whatever this man has to do to get one more yard, he’s going to do it. His absence is being greatly missed on short down conversions.