The Browns won’t have Nick Chubb again in 2023, but I don’t think that running game is going away. Great as Chubb is, a good portion of the success there can be attributed to the infrastructure around him – the offensive line, and the commitment to run the ball.
Jerome Ford, of course, ran for 106 yards off the bench on Monday night. And he’s just the latest non-Chubb running back to run successfully for the Browns.
Since Kevin Stefanski took over, there have been 29 times that a running back other than Chubb has carried the ball at least 10 times. Those backs averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and with 18 touchdowns in those 29 games.
The list of those games appears below. For the players tagged with black dots, those were week where Chubb didn’t play at all. For the others, they were coming off the bench.
|NON-CHUBB RUNNING BACKS WITH 10 CARRIES|
|K.Hunt||2020||at Balt.||L 6-38||13-72-0||4-9-0|
|K.Hunt||2020||at Dall.||W 49-38||11-71-2||0-0-0|
|D.Johnson||2020||at Dall.||W 49-38||13-95-0||0-0-0|
|• K.Hunt||2020||Ind.||W 32-23||20-72-0||3-21-1|
|• K.Hunt||2020||at Pitt.||L 7-38||13-40-0||2-17-0|
|• K.Hunt||2020||at Cin.||W 37-34||18-76-0||3-26-1|
|• K.Hunt||2020||L.V.||L 6-16||14-66-0||2-7-0|
|K.Hunt||2020||at Jac.||W 27-25||10-62-0||0-0-0|
|K.Hunt||2020||at Ten.||W 41-35||14-33-0||3-24-0|
|K.Hunt||2021||at Min.||W 14-7||14-69-1||2-17-0|
|K.Hunt||2021||at LAC||L 42-47||12-61-2||5-28-0|
|• K.Hunt||2021||Ari.||L 14-37||14-66-0||3-12-0|
|• D.Johnson||2021||Den.||W 17-14||22-146-1||2-22-0|
|• D.Johnson||2021||at N.E.||L 7-45||19-99-0||7-58-0|
|K.Hunt||2022||at Car.||W 26-24||11-46-1||4-24-1|
|K.Hunt||2022||at Atl.||L 20-23||10-49-0||2-19-0|
|J.Ford||2023||at Pitt.||L 22-26||16-106-0||3-25-1|
I would think Ford (pictured) might do just fine as a starter – might finish the season as one of the league’s top 5 rushers. He ran for 1,319 yards and 19 TDs for that really good Cincinnati Bearcats team in 2021. He transferred there after two seasons at Alabama.
But let’s see who the Browns add to the roster. Kareem Hunt is available, but there were those quiet suggestions coming out of Cleveland’s building during the summer that they thought he had lost a step. Cam Akers is available for a ham sandwich and Leonard Fournette is available, but I’m not sure that either is as good as Ford.
Jonathan Taylor is also available, but I’m not sure that the Browns would have a big interest in him. I don’t think they would be interested in both trading and giving a new contract to him, given that they’re still paying off the Deshaun Watson trade. And this is an offseason where an uber-elite running back isn’t really necessary.
As things stand, Pierre Strong is the backup. He hasn’t played much, but he gained 100 yards on his 10 carries last year.