3 massive Browns storylines to watch against New England

Browns, Kevin Stefanski. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Kevin Stefanski. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns, Nick Chubb. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Storyline No. 2: Will Nick Chubb be more involved at the end of games?

The Browns have found themselves in fiercely contested games that have come down to the final minute in every contest so far this season. When the offense needed a final drive to win the game, there has been one common denominator: Nick Chubb’s absence from the field.

Chubb leads the NFL through five games in both rushing yards, with 593, and rushing touchdowns, with seven. In fact, Chubb has more rushing yards after contact (416) than the Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Rams have total team rushing yards. Chubb is on pace to run for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.

So why isn’t he involved in these attempted game-winning drives? It all comes down to sub-packages, namely the two-minute offense. When Cleveland goes into their two-minute offense, Kareem Hunt is the running back because of his ability as a pass protector and his effectiveness as a receiver.

While there can be no argument that Hunt is the better choice as a receiver, as well as a pass protector, taking your best offensive weapon off the field with the game on the line is always going to be questioned.

For Chubb to supplant Hunt in those two-minute situations, it would take a change in philosophy from head coach Kevin Stefanski. Not all two-minute drives are created equal. One in which you would have to go 70 yards to get a touchdown with a minute on the clock would call for a running back with Hunt’s skillset.

But a drive, like the final one against the Chargers, where you just need to move the ball 20-yards to get in field goal range could benefit from Chubb’s chunk run ability. There’s also the theory that playing the hot hand will lead to more positive outcomes than negative ones, and Chubb certainly has a hot hand. Just Chubb’s presence on the field makes a defense approach the Browns offense differently.

Cleveland will certainly find themselves in numerous close games just due to their style of play. But only time will tell if Stefanski stays beholden to his time-slotted sub packages, or if he recognizes that if you are going to lose, you should at least go down with your best player on the field.