Training camp can't get here soon enough. By then, we'll have plenty of answers to all of the loose ends surrounding the 2020 Browns.
For now, we simply have some questions.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be discussing those queries and analyzing the variables that accompany them. We've narrowed our list to 10, but there are certainly many more that will need to be answered by the time Cleveland opens the season against the Ravens in Baltimore.
We're continuing today with a look at the Browns' surplus of talent at the running back position.
The topic was on Kevin Stefanski's mind as he sat through his final media obligation of the virtual offseason program.
Midway through the call, the Cleveland head coach fielded a question about how the Browns plan to divide carries and overall touches between Pro Bowl running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. A smile crept across Stefanski's face because it was a topic he'd been discussing a few moments earlier with his fellow coaches.
"We know, having been on different teams with different offensive players, sometimes you have a great running back, great receiver or great tight end, and certainly, you have to be mindful and intentional about how you want to go about that while understanding that each week calls for a different gameplan," Stefanski said. "I think we are fortunate enough to have players at each of those levels that can affect the game, but it is definitely on our mind of how you divvy that pie up and how you design plays. That is definitely something we are talking about."
Clearly, this is a question that doesn't yet have a specific answer, and it may depend on the situation and opponent. One thing is for sure, though. This is a good problem to have, and the Browns are excited by the possibilities of a full season worth of Hunt and Chubb after last year's eight-game sample size.
"We definitely feel like we can thrive, because we saw how Dalvin Cook was doing last year in Stefanski's offense and he did not disappoint," Hunt said. "They had another running back who did not disappoint, either. We definitely think we can take advantage of his zone run scheme."
Check out photos of the running backs the Browns will be bringing into training camp
What the Vikings did last year with Cook and Alexander Mattison should be considered, of course, but the comparison runs into some trouble when it comes to Hunt, who is just a couple of years removed from winning the NFL rushing title. Cook carried the ball 250 times for 1,135 yards and hauled in 53 passes for 519 yards, serving as the Vikings' clear, bell cow running back for a team that attempted more runs than passes. Mattison, a rookie, registered 100 carries for 462 yards while catching 10 passes for 82 yards.
Hunt figures to have a larger role than Mattison did, especially when it pertains to the passing game. In just eight games last year, Hunt essentially served as the team's third receiver and finished with 37 catches for 285 yards to go along with his 43 carries and 179 rushing yards. His new coaches have lauded him for his pass-catching skills while expressing their excitement about the versatility he can provide in an offense chock full of players who are dangerous with the ball in their hands.
"Kareem is an extremely talented runner as a running back, and he is exceptional out of the backfield, as well," offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. "He is fearless, and the selflessness of him blocking and lead blocking, he is just a football player who loves to play. We have to find ways to get him the ball."
The Browns certainly had no issue finding ways to get the ball to Chubb, who finished third in the league with 298 rush attempts. He was second with 1,494 yards in what was unequivocally one of the best seasons by a running back in franchise history.
Chubb is dangerous as a pass-catcher, too. He increased his receptions from 20 as a rookie to 36 this past season, bringing his average touches per game over 20.
Whether it's Chubb or Hunt with the ball in his hands, there's no wrong answer. How the distribution looks likely will evolve as training camp and the season unfold.
"If it is a day where we come out with two running backs, a fullback, a halfback and two wide receivers in our regular package, we are going to put ourselves in the position to win each game and that might look different each week," Van Pelt said. "We feel like we have the players at the positions where we have the ability to dictate on our terms how we are going to run the offense each week."