Nick Chubb, a standout figure in the NFL running back cadre, has always been the heart of the Cleveland Browns‘ offense. Since he was drafted in 2018, Chubb’s consistently surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for four consecutive seasons. Last year was a testament to his resilience and tenacity, playing all 17 regular-season games for the Browns. However, the somber news of Chubb’s knee injury during the tense Monday night clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers has cast a shadow on the Browns’ season. As Kevin Stefanski confirmed, Chubb will not grace the field for the rest of 2023.
The million-dollar question now arises: How will the Browns pivot without their star running back?
The Browns had aspirations of enhancing their passing game, with Deshaun Watson having an entire camp after struggling the previous year without an offseason. The plan was to leverage their pass target group even more, using Chubb as a foundational piece. But with him sidelined, the dynamics change substantially.
Jerome Ford now steps up as the starting running back. While the Browns have an impressive pass-target roster, concerns loom over pass protection. The loss of their right tackle, Jack Conklin, isn’t helping either. Dawand Jones, who stepped up against the Steelers, showed potential but must elevate his game if the Browns hope to maintain offensive consistency.
The absence of Chubb underscores a significant void in the Browns’ run game. Despite the confidence the Browns have placed in him, Ford isn’t a seasoned veteran. This potential vulnerability is possibly why there’s a buzz around the return of Kareem Hunt. While Hunt hasn’t been in action since last season, the Browns are familiar with his capabilities, especially from his tenure after parting ways with the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Browns decide to onboard Hunt, he may offer invaluable third-down support. Even though he might not mirror his prime form, Hunt could serve as a competent backup.
With Chubb out and potential changes in the lineup, the odds of the Browns making it to the playoffs are -144. As Ford takes the helm and possibly Hunt’s re-entry, the Browns’ performance in the upcoming games will provide a clearer picture of their season prospects.
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