The Cleveland Browns have possibly the best running back duo in recent history. In Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both went for 100 yards each. This hadn’t happened for the Browns since 1966 when they did so against division their rival Pittsburgh Steelers. That was accomplished by Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green, one of the best running back tandems in the league at the time. Let’s look into why Chubb and Hunt are the best duo in the league today.
Chubb goes down. Insert Hunt
Browns fans were all holding their collective breath when Nick Chubb went down against the Dallas Cowboys in week four. We had all feared the worse, a completely blown knee. The MRI that Chubb had the next day was a relief. Not only to Nick– who had a devastating knee injury while at Georgia— but to the fans and the team. Before his knee injury, Chubb was the main reason why the Browns were leading the league in rushing yards per game. While Chubb was there, the Browns were getting around 250 yards per game.
When Chubb went down and Hunt came in, starting right guard Wyatt Teller also went down with a leg injury. This plays a big role in how the rushing attack would do over the next four games as it took Hunt a little bit to get going. He was nursing a hamstring injury at the time. Hunt was running very hard over the next four weeks, but the rushing attack went from 250 yards a game all the way down to 95 yards a game.
Kareem Hunt finds his groove
Fantasy players who had Kareem on their team were licking their chops since Hunt was going to get a majority of the snaps in the Cleveland offense. Back in 2017, Hunt led the NFL with 1,327 yards…in his rookie season. The Browns were able to win games against the Colts and the Bengals, but lost to the Steelers and Raiders. During those four games that Hunt was the focus back, he went for 72, 40, 76, and 66 yards respectively.
Kareem has also been very effective out of the backfield for the Cleveland offense. Through Sunday’s game, he has caught 21 passes for 141 yards and four touchdowns. Cleveland did a very smart thing this offseason when they signed Hunt to a contract extension. This proved to be very friendly for the team, but also told Hunt that the Browns had plans for him in the future.
Chubb returns to the lineup
The Browns had a bye in week nine. This came at a really good time for the team as it was a good time to get healthy. Not only were the Browns looking forward to the return of Chubb, but they were also getting Teller back. Going into this game, Teller was the highest-rated guard per PFF.com. After the game, Teller became the highest-rated lineman in the LEAGUE, with a score of 96.8. It paid dividends for the Browns against the Texans.
Cleveland had to battle the elements, as the game was delayed at the beginning due to lightning in the area. It was windy and cold at First Energy Stadium on Sunday. Everyone knew what the game plan was going to be for Cleveland, feed Chubb and Hunt the football.
Cleveland was able to get the ground game going in the first quarter and drove down for a Cody Parkey field goal. Nick was able to run for a couple of first downs until the drive stalled. Both offenses struggled to get points, but the Browns defense was able to hold off the Texans on multiple fourth-down tries deep in their own end. The first half finished up with the league’s lowest score of a half, 3-0 Browns.
As the rushing attack continued to grind out yards, both teams struggled to score. The fourth quarter finally saw some scoring. In a drive that was capped off by a nine-yard touchdown run by Chubb, that gave the Browns a 10-0 lead. As the quarter was going along, Hunt was starting to see more carries as it seemed like the Browns were being smart with not overusing Chubb. When all was said and done, before the last drive of the game, Hunt was able to get 104 yards himself.
Chubb and Hunt ice the game
The Texans were able to make the game close at around the five-minute mark when Deshaun Watson found Pharoah Brown for a 16-yard touchdown throw. That was as close as they got, however. Hunt took the most snaps up to the two-minute warning. At that time, Hunt had gained 30 yards on four carries. After the two-minute warning, Hunt got the next two carries for seven yards as the Texans called time out after each play.
Insert Nick Chubb for the third and three play at the Cleveland 40 yard line. The Browns run a sweep left and Chubb was able to break contain. Once he gets past the edge of the Texans’ defense, Nick is off to the races down the sideline. Chubb then makes one of the most unselfish plays you will ever see in any NFL game this year, he runs out of bounds at the 1-yard line. The reason for this play was that the Texans had no more time outs and were unable to stop the clock or get the ball.
That big run gave the Browns history that had not been accomplished in 54 years. Chubb ended up with 126 yards rushing and Hunt had 104 yards. This gave the Browns 231 yards for the game and showed why they could be the best rushing team in the league this year. This definitely has something to do with the return of Teller, but when you have two, dynamic backs like Chubb and Hunt, you have an offense that can play with anyone in the league.
Next up for the Browns is another game against the NFC East, this time it’s the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have struggled this year and they are coming off a very bad game against the New York Giants. This is a good chance for the Browns to go 7-3, which was last achieved in 1994.
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