The Browns don’t need to run Nick Chubb 40 times a game to win

Nick Chubb, Browns. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Chubb, Browns. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

For as great of a running back as Nick Chubb is, the Browns don’t need to rush him 40 times a game in order to win football games. 

“Run the ball!”

“Where is Nick Chubb?”

“Kevin Stefanski needs to give up playcalling!”

These are the most common phrases that are used by Cleveland Browns fans each and every Sunday, especially when they fall short of the ultimate goal of winning games. Most fans will look at a guy like Nick Chubb and think he should touch the ball 40-plus times per game.

That simply is just not sustainable for any team or any running back, regardless of who they are. Chubb is one of the elite running backs in the game today, bar none, but the winning formula isn’t simply to rush him 30-40 times a game in order to be successful.’s Hayden Grove posted a stat on Twitter that sent the Browns faithful into a tizzy. Grove shared the stat that Cleveland is 2-0 this season when Chubb rushes 20-plus times and 0-5 when he is under that plateau.

Nick Chubb bulk carry stat is misleading

This stat is very misleading and doesn’t paint an accurate picture of how this season is going. First off, in those two wins for the Browns this season, they held leads late in games, which allowed them to milk the clock some with their running attack.

Second, if this stat were the end-all, be-all, Cleveland would simply turn and hand the ball off to Chubb for 20 consecutive plays to start the game. Lastly, Chubb is getting the ball plenty, but there are situations in which Kareem Hunt is better i.e. pass-catching and goal-line formation — which is why they paid him $6 million per season to stick around and originally declined his trade request.

Through the first seven games of the season, Chubb leads the league in rushing yards (740) and touchdowns (8), while being third in attempts (126) and fourth in yards per carry in the fourth quarter (6.6 on 36 attempts). So, again, he’s getting the ball a healthy amount, but there are two reasons why he isn’t getting it as much as some fans pound the table on every single week.

The first reason is the fact that the shelf life of an NFL running back isn’t very high, so you don’t want to risk running Chubb into the ground, hence why Hunt spells him throughout games. Only two running backs have had 340 carries (an average of 20 totes per game) and they were Derrick Henry in 2020 and LeVeon Bell in 2017. That doesn’t add up to guaranteed victories.

The next thing is the fact that Chubb is facing a stacked box most of the time he touches the rock. This is because opposing teams are going to make Jacoby Brissett beat you, something he isn’t always going to be able to do.

In the last two weeks, the Browns have faced arguably the greatest football coach ever Bill Belichick, and a future Hall of Famer John Harbaugh. Both of those coaches had similar game plans as they both forced Brissett to beat them.

He wasn’t successful against New England, but he was against Baltimore, which allowed Chubb to see more fourth-quarter carries that helped propel the Browns back into the game. Cleveland even rushed the ball five percent more than expected, so there’s that for the “run the ball” crowd.

Brissett is a career backup journeyman and there isn’t a single thing wrong with that. However, when the opposition knows how limited Brissett is, that will force them to take away Cleveland’s best playmaker in Chubb. The better Brissett plays, the more the defense will be forced to play honestly, which means fewer stacked boxes for Chubb to run into.

This is not the 1950s where the NFL is purely a running league. Instead, it’s far more a pass-happy league and that’s what ultimately wins football games. When was the last time a team won the Super Bowl with a top-10 running back? The answer is the 2004 Patriots, so we’re approaching 20 years in the past at this point. Let’s not go in that direction please, forward is the way to go.

Should Kevin Stefanski switch up his playcalling?

The answer to this is an emphatic no.

The Browns have a top-10 offense in the NFL and that is with a backup quarterback under center. Coming into the season, we all thought the offense would struggle and the defense would keep the team in games. Welp, that’s the complete opposite of what has transpired through the first seven weeks.

Some fans want Stefanski to give up calling the plays and hand the reins over to offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt in order to focus on other areas of the team. Do these fans not understand the two would coach very similarly?

Has Stefanski made some questionable calls throughout this season? Absolutely. Every single coach in the NFL has. That’s not uncommon.

However, there’s a massive misconception in terms of bad playcalling and lack of execution. Every time a play doesn’t result in five or more yards or every time a drive stalls out, fans yell from their keyboards that Stefanski isn’t calling the right plays. If the offense is executing these plays, those same fans would then praise Stefanski for his brilliant calls and winning with a backup quarterback.

Many will continue to pound the desk and yell at their television screens for Stefanski to run Chubb more, especially on third-and-short attempts. Even if that were the case, there is no guarantee that Chubb would get the necessary yardage. Then those fans would be yelling at Stefanski for not passing the ball.

And for the “Fire Stefanski!” crowd, there is no way that will happen, no matter how many angry tweets you send out. The front office will give him one full year with Deshaun Watson and then reevaluate if need be. Stefanski has done a pretty incredible job with this offense this year, despite the record and the fact Watson is missing the first 11-games.

So to recap, no, Chubb doesn’t need to rush the ball 40 times per game in order for this team to be successful, and no, Stefanski should not be fired or give up playcalling.

Next. Browns stock report: John Johnson struggles after asking for more effort. dark