ClevelandBrowns.com.’s (almost) midseason honors: Who’s stepped up, surprised the most in 2019?

It’s not quite the midpoint of the Browns’ regular season, but it is if you count the preseason.

The 2019 Browns have played 10 games, six of which have counted. Ten big ones that count remain. Cleveland sits at 2-4, a record no one in the building is thrilled with, heading into Sunday’s marquee matchup with the undefeated Patriots. 

With one more day of rest separating the Browns between their second practice of the week, we’re doling out a number of midseason honors for those who have shined through the first six games.

Check out photos from today's practice by team photographer Matt Starkey

Offensive MVP - RB Nick Chubb

The second-year running back has emerged as one of the best at his position in the entire NFL. Even after the bye, Chubb ranks fourth in the league with 607 yards and is one of four players to average more than 100 per game. He’s not only getting the tough yards, but also the big gains that show off the speed many don’t expect when combined with that kind of power. He’s not the loudest guy on the roster, but it’s hard to find anyone who leads by a better example.

Defensive MVP - DE Myles Garrett

He’s had at least one sack in all but one of the Browns’ games and he sits atop the league leaderboard with nine on the season. Perhaps more importantly, Garrett is doing this while drawing an immense amount of attention from the opposition. That kind of attention opens things up for the players around him, and there have been plenty who have capitalized. If Garrett maintains his sack pace, he’ll not only shatter the Browns’ record of 14, but he’ll also break the NFL’s record of 22.5.

Special Teams MVP - P Jamie Gillan

The surprise winner of Cleveland’s preseason punter competition has looked the part of a seasoned vet even though he’s still relatively new to the sport. The “Scottish Hammer” won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in September and has kept up the solid punting in October. The only undrafted rookie to make the Browns’ 53-man roster, Gillan is third in the AFC with 18 punts inside the 20-yard line -- a total that has significantly helped Cleveland limit its opponents to a small amount of return yards. He’s got the big leg when the Browns need it, but it’s the pinpoint accuracy that’s been so important through the first six games.

Unsung Hero - LB Joe Schobert

Garrett’s been the MVP, but Schobert has been the heart of a Cleveland defense that has dealt with a number of injuries through the first part of the season. Schobert leads the way -- and it’s not really close -- with 43 tackles and has had his hands in a number of the team’s turnovers. Schobert’s ability to adapt to the different schemes he’s had to learn through his four years in Cleveland has been second to none, and his fit in Steve Wilks’ 4-2-5 might just be the best yet.

Most Improved - K Austin Seibert

It wasn’t looking good for Seibert during the preseason. Simply put, he was inconsistent through most of it before making all four of his field goal attempts in the dress rehearsal loss to the Buccaneers. He missed his first extra point attempt of the regular season but he’s been mostly spotless ever since. Seibert is 8-for-8 on the season, making him one of just five kickers in the league to sport a 100 percent success rate. His two missed extra points have been two too many, but he’s certainly looked the part of the fifth-round selection Cleveland made him in the 2019 draft. 

Biggest Surprise - TE Ricky Seals-Jones

Claimed via waivers just before the start of the season, Seals-Jones has grown more and more comfortable with his role in the Browns’ offense with each passing week. David Njoku’s wrist injury opened the door for an expanded role, and Seals-Jones has seized it. He leads the team with two touchdown catches and is playing the most snaps of any of the team’s tight ends. A wide receiver in college, Seals-Jones has soft hands and a clear ability to find open spaces in the defense.

Best play - Chubb runs 88 yards for a game-sealing touchdown vs. Ravens

Not only was it the Browns’ second-longest play from scrimmage, but it was a decisive, game-sealing one that gave Cleveland its first AFC North win of the season. Chubb’s 88-yard touchdown run in the early part of the fourth quarter in the Browns’ Week 4 win over the Ravens stopped all the momentum Baltimore had generated in a matter of seconds. Chubb holds two of the top three longest runs in Browns history, and he’s always a threat to add his name to another part of the list.

Best stat - 5.3 yards per carry

The Browns have had some well-documented struggles on offense through the first six weeks, but rushing the ball -- with consistency, at that -- has not been one of them. Cleveland is second only to Baltimore with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Yes, 88-yard runs like Chubb’s help pad those stats, but we’re at the near midpoint of the season, so one big run can’t inflate the numbers too much. Perhaps the most encouraging part about this? Cleveland adds Kareem Hunt to its rushing mix starting Week 10 against the Bills.

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