The Cleveland Browns offense hit a different level of proficiency in 2018 once Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator.
With Kitchens, now the team’s head coach, calling the plays, the Browns averaged 395 yards of offense per game (up from 342 prior to Kitchens), averaged a league-best 6.86 yards per play, scored 25 touchdowns (sixth best in the league), and quarterback Baker Mayfield had a quarterback rating of 106.2. (All stats courtesy of clevelandbrowns.com.)
Now, with the Browns preparing for a full season with Kitchens and Mayfield, along with the offseason additions of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and and running back Kareem Hunt, the offense has the potential to be one of the league’s best.
That expectation is echoed by Pro Football Focus, which highlighted the Browns in the look at both the best running back tandems and the best wide receiver tandems in the league heading into the 2019 season.
First up is the running back duo of Nick Chubb (996 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and 5.2 yards per carry as a rookie in 2018) and Hunt (824 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and 4.6 yards per carry in 11 games with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018).
Chubb and Hunt come in at No. 5 on the list:
Early on, we will see more of Duke Johnson Jr. than Kareem Hunt, but when Hunt returns following his eight-game suspension, there is no doubt that he and Nick Chubb will be one of the finest pairs in the league.
Having Hunt on the roster supplies Cleveland one more weapon to their already high-octane offense. He’s forced 104 missed tackles since he entered the league in 2017 — first among running backs in that span — and his 0.23 missed tackles forced per attempt is tied with Kenyan Drake and Nick Chubb for the best mark among running backs with 100-plus rushes since 2017.
Chubb nearly broke our elusive rating scale in the early part of the season as he was one of the most effective rushers PFF has ever seen. He (103.3) was the only back to exceed a 90.0 elusive rating that also had more than 100 attempts (192). Chubb took home the trophy for the highest-graded rusher in 2018 and should look to build on that as he enters his sophomore season.
On the receiving end are Beckham (77 receptions, 1,052 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 12 games with the New York Giants in 2018) and Jarvis Landry (81 receptions, 976 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Browns in 2018).
Beckham and Landry come in at No. 2 on the list:
Odell Beckham Jr. has to be ecstatic about his future following his trade from the Giants earlier this offseason. He gets to pair up with a gunslinger at quarterback in Baker Mayfield and join forces with his good friend Jarvis Landry to form one of the NFL’s premier receiving duos.
Since being drafted in 2014, Beckham’s five-year receiving grade (92.6) ranks sixth among the 47 wideouts with at least 2,000 routes run in that span. Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins are the only active players who rank ahead of the former LSU standout in both receiving grade and yards per route run.
Last season, Beckham earned a 90.0 overall grade, fifth-best at the position, and was worth an impressive 1.98 Wins Above Replacement, which ranked 27th among all players and ninth among all non-quarterbacks. Aside from the 2017 season when OBJ’s season was cut short by a fractured ankle, he’s earned grades of 84.0 or higher and posted over 1,000 yards receiving every season since being drafted.
For Landry, last season may not have been one of his most efficient years, but he was able to turn it on late as the Browns pushed for a chance at the postseason.
After seeing a ridiculous 92 targets (second among wide receivers) through nine weeks that resulted in just 55 completions and 24 first downs, Landry chose quality over quantity in the second half of the season. He hauled in 26 receptions from 45 targets after Week 9 – 20 of which went for first downs. Landry produced a 74.7 overall grade on the season, his fifth straight season with a 74.0-plus grade.
The Browns started to build something on offense in the second half of last season.
Now with some of the league’s best duos at running back and wide receiver, and Mayfield holding down the most-important position in the game, the offense is poised to hit another level in 2019.