Cleveland rolled up 307 rushing yards against the Cowboys - the most a Dallas team has allowed in franchise history - and had three players finish with more than 70 rushing yards for the first time in team history, according to clevelandbrowns.com.
That big effort has the Browns sitting pretty as the top of the league table in rushing yards, average yards per carry and rushing touchdowns:
The @Browns are currently first in the NFL in rushing yards (818), rushing average (5.88), rushing TDs (8), takeaways (10), forced fumbles (7), points off turnovers (45) & turnover margin (+6)— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) October 5, 2020
How dominant have the #Browns been on the ground? Their 818 rushing yards are 4th-most through the first 4 games of a season over the last 30 YEARS, per @ESPNStatsInfo. Only the 2005-06 Falcons with Michael Vick and last year’s Ravens with Lamar had more.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 5, 2020
That type of production reveals that the Browns have quality depth behind starting running back Nick Chubb with Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson. That should help take a little bit of the sting out of the fact that the Browns will be without Chubb for a few weeks after he was placed on injured reserve Monday with a knee injury.
Even though they will be without Chubb, the rushing attack should remain sound, Johnson said on Monday, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I think we are pretty confident right now It sucks that Nick had to get hurt. We are praying for him and praying for a speedy recovery. At the same time, we just have to continue to hold it down for the running back room.
“We take a lot of pride in running the ball. When your opportunities come, you have to make the best of it, and I think that is what we all did … Every time we have an opportunity, we try to make the best of it.”
It is not just the running backs who are making the offense click, however, as the offensive line completely dominated the Cowboys defense on Sunday:
How dominant was Cleveland’s OL vs. Dallas? The #Browns posted a run block win rate of 86.1%. That’s the HIGHEST rate in a single game since the metric was invented two seasons ago. Browns are currently No. 2 in the NFL in run block win rate. @ESPNStatsInfo @NextGenStats— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 5, 2020
The role the offensive line played in the win was recognized by Pro Football Focus, which named Cleveland’s unit as the top offensive line for Week 4:
As noted above, Cleveland’s rushing attack was cooking against the Cowboys. Not only were they the most efficient rushing team of Week 4, but they were also more efficient running the ball than all but four teams were at passing this past week. The Cleveland backfield busted off 11 runs of 10 or more yards on the day. Of those 11, the ball carrier had at least three yards before being contacted by the defense (three more than any other team) on eight.
Nick Chubb (who suffered a knee injury in the first quarter), Kareem Hunt and even D’Ernest Johnson are all backs that can rack up yards after contact, but the offensive line deserves as much, if not more, credit for the rushing success. They paved open lanes all game long, and it was more than just Teller’s stellar outing (described above) that got them there. Right tackle Jack Conklin led players at his position in run-block grade at 92.3 and center J.C. Tretter ranked fifth at his at 69.1.
The team effort was not lost on head coach Kevin Stefanski, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter:
“It’s easy to start with the runners who are doing an outstanding job, but you have to look at the entire offense and you have to look at the offensive line knocking guys off the ball, utilizing the correct technique and going to the right people. It really takes 11 guys to make a run game go.”
Chubb will likely be out until after Cleveland’s bye week on November 8, but given the quality depth at the running back position and the play of the offensive line, the team should be able to keep the ground game rolling in his absence.