As has become the norm, the Cleveland Browns have a host of needs and holes to the hill before they begin a new season.
Nearly every part of their roster could use an upgrade. Even the quarterback and wide receiver rotation aren’t entirely set. They have Baker Mayfield under center, but he’s still toting the burden of proof, and star wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are both coming off surgeries.
Running back is really the only position at which the Browns are totally, completely, unequivocally set. Gone are the days when losing someone like Brandon Jackson to injury is an actual problem, as it was in 2012. The Browns are more stable in the backfield, anchored by a 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Chubb is by far and away from the star among this duo. He might even be the Browns’ most valuable player. Last year, his age 24 seasons, he rushed for nearly 100 yards per game while averaging almost five yards per carrying. He also established himself as more of a passing threat off play actions and screens.
Hunt is the same age as his backfield running mate but still relatively new to Cleveland. He spent his first two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, during which time he emerged as their top rusher and a potential star.
However, midway through the 2018 season, the Chiefs released him after he was caught on video assaulting a woman. He didn’t play for the rest of the year and was also suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season.
Many teams justifiably steered clear of him, what with his off-field trouble and the fact that he was set to miss half of the year. While the Browns’ decision to sign him at all is questionable, they were afforded a luxury other teams did not have: Chubb. They didn’t need a top rusher. They were just looking for the thunder to their lightning. Now they’ve found him.
Expect this duo to be a huge part of what the Browns do moving forward. Despite having so many recognizable names on the offensive side of the ball, including Mayfield, OBJ, and Landry, the Browns still only ranked 19th in passing touchdowns and 30th interceptions thrown last season.
Everything they do, until further notice, will come down to how they perform on the ground. Fortunately for the Browns, when you have Chubb and Hunt in the same backfield, that figures to be a good thing.