Stats show Browns offensive depth was lacking in 2022

Browns running back Kareem Hunt is swarmed by the New York Jets,
Browns running back Kareem Hunt is swarmed by the New York Jets, / Phil Masturzo / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The numbers from 2022 say that the first-string position players ranged from acceptable to excellent, but the Cleveland Browns bench substantially underperformed expectations.

There were no good backups, or if there were (perhaps Jerome Ford or D'Ernest Johnson?) we didn't see them take the field. The numbers confirm what the eyeball test already told us, with certain exceptions. Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku were the Fab Four for the Browns and put up numbers when the were on the field, but the rest of the players didn't take advantage of the chances they were given. The second string played like 2017 all over again.

To investigate this point, we consider total yards from scrimmage per snap (TYFS/S), which may be better than yards per carry for running backs. We shouldn't care whether the yards come via the run or pass, just make yards.

Similarly, receivers should be judged by yards per target rather than yards per reception. The latter rewards dropping passes as if they don't count, which makes it a much less helpful stat when you stop to think about it. We also like catch percentage, the percentage of targets that result in catches, and a new stat called "Opportunities" which is targets plus rushing attempts.

In other words, it's the number of times that the team wants the ball in the player's hands either by pass or run. It's significant for a running back, who is more of a two-way threat, although receivers get the chance to run the ball sometimes, too.

Browns used only Chubb and Hunt at RB in 2022

Weirdly, there were only two running backs to receive significant snaps in 2022. That would be Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Of the two, only Chubb contributed in a positive way.

Hunt's season wasn't up to his previous standards. He just didn't produce yards on the ground or via the pass. The conventional stats tell you that Chubb produced 1,525 rushing yards and 5.05 yards/carry. Hunt had 468 yards and 3.80 yards/carry, which didn't cut it. Additional stats are listed below.

Running Backs TYFS Snaps TYFS/Snap Yds/Tar Catch pct Yds/Opp
Nick Chubb 1764 660 2.67 6.46 73.0% 5.20
Kareem Hunt 678 492 1.38 4.77 79.5% 4.06

Chubb was awesome in 2022. Because running backs get more touches than other players, they have higher TYFS/Snap than receivers, with 2.0 being outstanding. Chubb was way out in front in this area. He was also a very good investment through the air with 6.46 yards on the average when he was targeted.

By contrast, Hunt returned only 4.77 yards per target, which is a poor number, and he averaged only 4.06 yards per opportunity. Two-headed monster? Not exactly. Hunt was way too tame in 2022.

Hopefully, he can bounce back for another team. At press time, he was still unsigned, as teams are not knocking down doors to bring him in. We don't include Jerome Ford, D'Ernest Johnson, or Demetric Felton here because they didn't have enough snaps to generate meaningful stats.

Ford is generally well-regarded because of his success running back kicks in 2022. He has speed, power, and explosion, so it's very possible that he will demonstrate that he can supplement Chubb's success in the backfield in 2023 and maybe even expand his game to include catching a few screen passes.

Johnson put up numbers in 2021 and showed great intelligence in utilizing his blockers. He has put up good numbers in his Browns career, but the coaching staff just does not believe in DEJ, especially if the OL is not fully healthy. Hence they kept him on the bench in 2022.

Felton has shown an ability to catch passes and could possibly be a slot receiver. However, his unimpressive 40-yard dash time, small size, and record of fumbling seem like a poor fit for the tailback position. Thus he too stayed on the bench in 2022. If he is not a slot receiver, he will probably not make the team because he does not run well enough.