No. 3: Let Kareem Hunt run the Ball
You may recall that in 2019, Kareem Hunt’s role in the offense concocted by Freddie Kitchens and Todd Monken, was mainly to be the slot receiver. He often appeared in the same backfield with Nick Chubb, and occasionally was used to give Chubb a breather.
Hunt had been suspended for the first eight games in 2019 and played the last eight games. He did a very good job, though not necessarily playing at a superstar level, collecting 37 receptions in 44 targets for a catch percentage of 84.1% and collecting 285 receiving yards in half a season’s work. He ran the ball only 43 times for 179 yards, an average of 4.16 yards per carry.
Chubb should have led the NFL in rushing yards that season. In the last game of the year, they decided to avoid overworking him, with the rushing title safely in his possession. But in the late game against Houston, Tennessee’s Derrick Henry got 32 carries for 211 yards and eclipsed Chubb’s total by 46 yards, 1,540 to 1,494.
Just because your team has Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (plus D’Ernest Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard), doesn’t mean your team has a running game worth writing home about. The Browns were 12th in the NFL in rushing yardage that season, and 22nd in overall yards and in points.
Cleveland had a pass-happy attack that year, with 539 pass attempts versus 393 rush attempts. The Baltimore Ravens out-rushed the Browns 3,296 yards to 1901.
How are the Browns supposed to win the division posting numbers like that? For those who say it’s not a fair comparison due to the presence of metahuman superstar Lamar Jackson, all right, let’s subtract his 1,206 rushing yards. Even with zero contribution from Jackson, the Ravens topped the Browns 2,090 yards to 1,901 yards.
This is utterly ridiculous, considering the Browns had Chubb and Hunt. Conclusion: Your team can not depend on three stars. They have to make use of the entire roster.
That’s why it was so important to hand the ball off to Hunt again. This man is a former Pro Bowl running back who had 1,327 rushing yards as a rookie and 1,782 yards from scrimmage. He can play.
Hunt and Chubb seem to appreciate the value of having each other share the heavy load of running the football. Stefanski was rewarded by 1,145 yards from scrimmage from Hunt in 2020 and 1,217 yards from scrimmage from Chubb that season.
In 2021, both Chubb and Hunt missed time with injuries, but D’Ernest Johnson stepped up and posted 671 yards from scrimmage which included 5.34 yards per carry. In fact, Chubb had 5.52 yards per carry and Hunt was at 4.95 yards per carry. Browns running backs ran like their hair was on fire last season.