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Browns Mailbag: What milestones are still on the table for Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt?

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

Happy 2021!

You won't be getting any mail in your actual mailbox, but the Browns Mailbag is OPEN for business to kick off the new year in proper fashion.

Will the Browns emphasize the run and what records could they achieve if Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb can get big plays? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

I'm not clued into the game plan for Sunday's game, but the Browns clearly want to be better on the ground than they were last week (season-low 45 rushing yards) and in their previous meeting with the Steelers (75 rushing yards, second-lowest total of the season). It's never been about yards and stats for Kevin Stefanski. It's about keeping the opponent on its toes and unable to surmise what you're going to do on a given play. So when the Browns are struggling on the ground like they did last week, their ability to keep teams guessing decreases.

Chubb said there were a number of factors playing into the team's tough performance against the Jets. It wasn't just the two missing offensive linemen (Jedrick Wills Jr. and Wyatt Teller).

"It is a lot of things to it," Chubb said. "I feel like as a whole we have not been doing the things we need to do as a team and as an offense. I think it is more just on everybody who is playing than the guys who are not."

As for the milestones …

Barring an all-time performance, the Browns won't have two 1,000-yard rushers in 2020. There's always next year. Still, there's plenty to like from what Chubb and Hunt have been able to accomplish as one of the NFL's best running back duos. They're the only duo of RBs in the league with 800+ yards apiece. Their 22 combined touchdowns are the third-most in the league, and they're the first Browns duo to record double-digit TDs since Leroy Hoard and Kevin Mack did it in 1991.

Chubb needs 41 yards to notch his second straight 1,000-yard campaign. It's an impressive feat considering he missed four full games and three quarters of another game in which the Browns rushed for a whopping 307 yards. He's tied for fourth in the league with 31 rushes of 10+ yards and is second with 11 rushes for 20+. His average of 5.18 yards per carry is the third-best in team history, trailing two Hall of Famers — Bobby Mitchell and Jim Brown.

Hunt, meanwhile, is tied for the NFL lead among RBs with five receiving touchdowns and he's one of just two players with at least five rushing TDs and five receiving TDs. Hunt's teams, by the way, are 22-5 when he finds the end zone. 

Let's go for 23-5 on Sunday, shall we?

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Jets yesterday by the Browns photo team

In big games the best players perform above expectations. What will the coaches do to win against Pittsburgh and eliminate turnovers? Can the Browns overcome the loss of two offensive linemen? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

Let's start with the first part of your question: Turnovers. It's hard to find an area of the game that's had a bigger impact on whether the Browns win or lose a game this season. Cleveland is 9-0 in games it either wins or ties in the turnover battle. That means it's 1-5 in games it loses the turnover battle, and the one win came against the Jaguars. The Browns have won just once this season (Week 5 vs. Indianapolis) when they commit more than one turnover. They're 6-0 when they force more than one.

"We have fumbled way too often of late," Stefanski said Wednesday. "You can't just focus on fumbles lost; you have to focus on fumbles. Everybody who touches that rock has to do a great job, and that pertains to a returner, a wide receiver, a tight end, running back, quarterback, center-quarterback exchange and all of the above. If you touch the rock, you have to be using great ball-security technique in every game. 

"We understand how important the turnover margin is to our success and to really every team's success in a given game."

As for the offensive linemen, the Browns are poised to be at full strength with the potential returns of Wills and Teller.

The loss to the Jets was devastating. What do Browns fans root for now, aside from a win against Pittsburgh? — Nick D., Wayne, West Virginia

You've got two scenarios that get the Browns into the playoffs even if they lose to the Steelers on Sunday. When you see them, you'll quickly realize winning is the simplest and safest way of clinching the team's first postseason berth since 2002.

  • The Colts, playing at home, lose to the Jaguars, who have lost 14 straight games.
  • The Titans lose to the Texans (4-11) AND the Ravens (vs. Bengals) and Dolphins (at Bills) both win.

One more reminder: Win and you're in. It's that simple.

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