The first 12 games of the 2019 season have followed a disappointingly familiar script for the Cleveland Browns.
Inexplicable losses to the likes of Brandon Allen and Devlin Hodges, too many penalties, a woefully inadequate offensive line, injuries, suspensions and drama (both real and manufactured) have all combined to leave a preseason playoff hopeful sitting at 5-7 heading into Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
That has all been well chronicled, however, so today let’s focus on one of the positive stories of the season in running back Nick Chubb.
Heading into this weekend’s slate of games, Chubb leads the NFL in rushing yards with 1,175, is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and has 11 runs of 20 or more yards, which is also tops in the league.
If Chubb finishes the season as the league’s top rusher, he will be the first Browns running back to accomplish that feat since Leroy Kelly in 1968. At his current pace, Chubb will finish the year with 1,567 rushing yards, which would land him at No. 2 on the franchise’s single-season record list, just behind Jim Brown’s legendary 1963 season where he rushed for 1,863 yards. It would also make Chubb the first Cleveland running back other than Brown to top 1,500 rushing yards in a season.
Cleveland fans may know and appreciate Chubb, but his efforts are still a bit unnoticed league wide, which helps explain how he landed on Gil Brandt’s list of the league’s most under-rated players at NFL.com:
The collection of colorful characters assembled by Browns general manager John Dorsey, like Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, along with Cleveland’s failure to live up to astronomical expectations, have drawn attention away from Chubb’s impressive second NFL season. The former second-round pick has recorded at least 75 scrimmage yards in 12 games, which is the NFL’s longest active streak and the longest by a Brown since Jim Brown did it in 1961 and ‘62. Chubb also leads the league with 1,175 rushing yards and has four games remaining, including two against the Bengals, who boast the league’s worst run defense. And to top it all off, he’s proven to be a better pass-catcher (51 catches in two seasons) than many assumed when he was coming out of Georgia, which doesn’t really throw the ball, especially to running backs.
The Browns have delivered more than enough disappointment through the first 12 weeks of the season.
But at least fans have been able to hang their hat on Chubb when looking for something positive from the team.