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Reviewing the RBs: Browns again establish one of league's top rushing attacks

The Browns relied on Nick Chubb more than any other year in his career to carry the run game, and he answered the call with a career-best season


The Browns are about a month removed from the 2022 season and making plans for improvements in 2023. Doing so, however, will require taking a look back at how each position fared, and we'll be doing that ourselves at with a comprehensive breakdown of each spot on the roster.

First up: the RBs

The Raw Numbers

Rushing yards per game - 146.5 (5th in NFL)

Rushing attempts - 532 (5th in NFL)

Nick Chubb: 17 games, 302 attempts, 1525 yards (5.0 yards per carry), 12 TDs; 27 receptions, 239 yards, 1 TD

Kareem Hunt: 17 games, 123 attempts, 468 yards (3.8 yards per carry), 3 TDs; 35 receptions, 210 yards, 1 TD

D'Ernest Johnson: 15 games, 4 attempts, 17 yards (4.3 yards per carry); 3 receptions, 7 yards

Jerome Ford: 13 games, 8 attempts, 12 yards (1.5 yards per carry)

Demetric Felton: 8 games, 1 attempts, -4 yards; 2 receptions, 8 yards

Analysis in 150 Words or Less

The Browns leaned on Chubb more than any other season in his five-year career, and Chubb responded with a career-best total in rushing yards and matched his career-high in touchdowns. Hunt still contributed, too, although it wasn't to the same extent as previous seasons working as a duo with Chubb. The Browns still found a way to boast one of the league's best rushing attacks and looked particularly dominant at the beginning of the season, when Chubb cracked 100 rushing yards in five of the first eight games. The run game slowed a bit in the second half — Chubb topped 100 yards just twice after Week 8 and didn't have a rushing touchdown in the last six games — as the Browns attempted to re-mold their offense with QB Deshaun Watson, but it still operated at an above-average pace and will continue to be a major piece of the Browns' offensive success.

High Point

Statistically, the run game's most dominant performance of the year was in Week 1. The Browns rushed for a season-high 217 yards and found most of their offensive production from their running backs — Chubb rushed for a season-high 141 yards, and Hunt built his best game of the season by adding 46 yards and a touchdown on the ground as a well as a receiving touchdown. The performance was an excellent way to start the season and fueled the Browns to their first Week 1 win game since 2004.

Low Point

The Browns were completely halted on the ground in Week 11 against the Bills. Chubb rushed for a season-low 19 yards on 14 attempts. Hunt led all runners, albeit with just 32 rushing yards on five attempts. The lack of run game made it hard for the Browns to keep up with the Bills, who only led 13-10 at halftime but pulled away with 15 unanswered points in the second half, leading to a 31-23 defeat for Cleveland.

What They Said

"It's just that we can be good at both. That's what gives me hope. We all know we can run the ball well. Now with Deshaun, we do a lot of great different things passing the ball. Just putting it all together and making it match." - Chubb on the opportunity for the Browns offense to click in the run and pass games, given the unit's production in the running game this season and Watson's ability in the passing game

Who's Back for 2023?

Chubb, Ford and Felton are the only running backs under contract for next season.

Who's a Potential Free Agent?

Hunt and Johnson are each set to become unrestricted free agents.

2023 Outlook

The Browns' expectations for the run game won't be different next season with Chubb, who was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl last season and again finished near the top of the league's rushing leaderboard. With Hunt possibly becoming a free agent, however, the Browns could look to use Ford more from the backfield and expand his role beyond the kick return duties he carried as a rookie. They could also seek adding a running back this offseason who can assist as a receiver if they lose Hunt, who was excellent in that role.