In ESPN’s ranking of the top 10 running backs in the NFL — which polled more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players — Chubb came in at No. 7, drawing the ire of not just Browns fans, but many others.
“The Nick Chubb disrespect smh,” ESPN’s Mina Kimes wrote before dropping some additional stats. “Nick Chubb: Led all RBs in broken tackles last year; No. 1 in PFF’s elusive ranking; plays for a team that just added one of the best run blocking tackles in football; has a head coach who loves to run the ball. I will buy all of the stock.”
Browns RB Nick Chubb Called a ‘Pure Runner’
Giants running back Saquon Barkley was selected as the top running back, followed by Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey and Cowboys runner Ezekiel Elliott. Alvin Kamara came it at No. 4, with Derrick Henry at five and Dalvin Cook just ahead of Chubb.
It wasn’t all disrespect though. One anonymous defensive coach had some good things to say about Chubb.
“He’s 225, 230 pounds and runs through arm tackles,” the coach told ESPN. “Kind of like Derrick Henry — you’d think you can catch him but can’t. And he can power through you. Just a pure runner of the football.”
Another executive told ESPN, “not as big and strong as Henry, but good.”
Nick Chubb Should Thrive in Browns New Offense
Chubb came up just short of the ground crown, watching Titans RB Derrick Henry surge by him with a 211-yard performance in the season finale. Chubb totaled just 86 yards over the final two weeks — mostly due to inconsistent play-calling — finishing the year with 1,494 yards and eight touchdowns.
Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry has talked about how scattered the offensive game plan felt under former head coach Freddie Kitchens, who also called the plays. It likely cost Chubb the rushing title in what was otherwise a very disappointing 6-10.
“I’ll say this, the first 20 plays of a game are scripted calls,” Landry said. “The first 20 plays of the game are calls that come from a team’s tendencies of how they approach the game in the first quarter or the first drive, so it can be predictable, what the defense is going to do. After that, it’s just kind of off of play-calling. Obviously, it comes down to execution, it comes down to making the throw, making the catches, making the blocks, but I just don’t know what the plan was [after the first 15 plays].”
Chubb should find even more success under new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski in a zone blocking system behind an improved offensive line. The Browns added right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency and left tackle Jedrick Wills with the No. 10 pick in the draft.
Chubb has drawn rave reviews from Stefanski not just for his ability on the field, but his leadership off of it in Cleveland.
“He is a cultural tone-setter. I like everything about him,” Stefanski said on the Bull and Fox show on 92.3 The Fan. “Just doesn’t say much. He comes to work and does his job. There’s a way to lead without being a rah-rah guy. You don’t have to be making speeches. His teammates are very, very keenly aware when [he’s] in the building and on the field. He’s about his business and about working. That’s something I really respect.”