Skip to main content

Nick Chubb takes pain from playoff loss for offseason motivation

Chubb plans to use a performance that didn’t meet his standards Sunday as fuel to get even better for 2021

Nick Chubb wasn't quite ready yet for a full reflection on the 2020 season when he sat down with reporters Monday afternoon.

His mind was still on Sunday's season-ending result. The Browns lost, 22-17, to the Kansas City Chiefs and took the reigning Super Bowl champions down to the final minute, and Chubb, who was voted as a 2021 Pro Bowler, recorded 13 carries for 69 yards and caught only two of five passes. 

He wishes he could've done more. Now, after ending the season in the AFC Divisional Round, he won't have a chance to produce again for another eight months.

"Yeah, I am down," Chubb said. "Those close games when you lose like that hurt way more than when you get blown out. Just knowing that one drive could have made a difference in us going home or playing next week, for me personally, I hold myself to a high standard of playing at a high level every game, and I did not do that yesterday."

When Chubb does look back at his 2020 season, however, he'll take plenty of pride in what was accomplished.

He rushed for 1,067 yards and broke the 1,000-yard marker for the second consecutive season. His 12 rushing touchdowns were a career high, and he did it all despite missing four games due to a knee injury. He's the first player since Mercury Morris in 1972 to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on 190 or fewer attempts.

Chubb's contributions, paired with a solid seasonal performance from running back Kareem Hunt, gave the Browns one of their best rushing seasons in over four decades. With 2,734 total yards in 2020, the Browns rushed for their highest total in a season since 1978 and fourth-most ever in franchise history.

Both running backs came into the season with potential to rush for over 1,000 yards — they had both already done it once in their young careers. Their combination still packed a punch and helped keep the Browns offense fresh in late-game situations, but Chubb was ultimately the only back to reach the four-digit plateau and earn a Pro Bowl selection.

Next year could be an even bigger year for the duo, though. 

"I learned that there is a way for us both to be on the field at the same time and there is a way for both of us to have a good year at the same time," Chubb said. "That is the biggest thing I took from it all is that we can still be us, share the ball and have success with it. The same thing for years to come. Just for us to keep having fun and playing and winning games together."

The running backs — and the rest of the offense — should benefit from having a full offseason that won't require learning a new playbook, meeting a new head coach and starting fresh in nearly every corner of the game plan. The schemes and play calls head coach Kevin Stefanski deployed this season were efficient in both the run and pass game, and Chubb is certainly looking forward to another season of growth under Stefanski's tutelage.

"Kevin, he is a great coach," Chubb said. "This system he has brought in, it speaks for itself. There are ways for everyone to have success on our side of the ball. Not only that, it's a really good offense.

"He is just what he is about. He is about work. That's what I like. He's not going to sugar coat anything. He will tell you how it is. He pushes us."

Chubb doesn't always need an inspiring head coach for motivation to push himself, though. Whenever he's needed motivation, he's always taken a team-first approach. 

If the Browns are winning football games, he's been happy.

When they lose, he's immediately turned his focus to the next game.

So after the Browns' season came to an end Sunday, his motivation to get better reached a new peak. That's how Chubb has approached each offseason since his rookie year in 2018, and he's always managed to come back the next year with even more production.

Sunday's result will sit in his mind all offseason, but it will only help him get better.

"Coach said today that the feeling of how we feel right now, hold onto it and hold onto it until it can fuel us for this offseason coming up and for next year," he said. "That is what I'm doing. Hold onto this feeling for a while, get back to work later and see where we are."

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday by the Browns photo team