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Nick Chubb paying dividends for the Browns

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Rookie’s rushing numbers right on par with No. 2 overall selection Saquon Barkley.

Atlanta Falcons v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It was quite a day on Sunday for the Cleveland Browns rookie duo of quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb.

Mayfield tossed three touchdown passes during Cleveland’s 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons, and also finished the game with a quarterback rating of 151.3 - the best mark by a Browns rookie and the fifth-best mark in franchise history, according to clevelandbrowns.com. It was also the highest quarterback rating for a Browns quarterback since Brian Sipe in 1978.

While Mayfield’s performance seems like one that would be hard to top, Chubb may have pulled off the trick by rushing for 176 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns — one on a 13-yard reception and another on a 92-yard touchdown run.

Chubb’s touchdown run set a franchise record, which had been held by Bobbie Mitchell since 1959, and is the second-longest by a rookie in NFL history. Chubb’s 176 rushing yards place him at No. 5 on the team’s list of best days by a rookie.

Since taking over the starting role at running back following the October 20 trade of Carlos Hyde, Chubb has made up for lost time.

After receiving just 16 carries through the season’s first six games, Chubb has rushed for 406 yards in the past four games. And following Sunday’s big game, Chubb has entered some pretty good company among rookie running backs.

There was considerable, albeit foolish, debate prior to the 2018 NFL Draft that the Browns should select “generational talent” Saquon Barkley with the No. 1 overall selection and then take “whoever was left” among the quarterback group at No. 4.

Barkley went to the New York Giants at No. 2, after the Browns selected Mayfield, and while the rookie running back has been putting up nice numbers for the Giants, the difference between Barkley and Chubb may not be as extreme as some would have you believe.

Consider that:

  • Chubb now has 579 rushing yards and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry to go along with five rushing touchdowns.
  • Barkley has 519 rushing yards and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry to go along with five rushing touchdowns.

Of course, Barkley is also active in the passing game, as he has 58 receptions for 497 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That gives him 1,016 combined yards from scrimmage with seven combined touchdowns. He has needed 169 touches to achieve those yards, which averages out to six yards per touch.

However, when you factor in that Duke Johnson is part of the Browns passing game out of the backfield, the divide is once again not so wide. Johnson and Chubb have combined for 1,069 yards from scrimmage with nine combined touchdowns. And they have done it on 10 fewer touches, which gives the Browns duo an average of 6.7 yards every time they touch the ball.

Barkley still has a game in hand as the Giants have already had their bye week, so he should soon surpass Chubb in rushing and increase his yards from scrimmage total. And without a viable quarterback in place, the Giants are probably happy with the selection.

Even knowing that, it is hard to argue that the Browns are not in a better place with Chubb, Johnson and Mayfield lining up each week in the backfield.