Last year, Browns running back Nick Chubb rarely got involved in the passing game. This year, that will change.
Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell said Chubb should get more passes thrown his way this year. In 2018, Chubb got just 29 targets in 16 games as the Browns passed far more often to running back Duke Johnson, who got 62 targets. This year Johnson has been traded and Chubb will take more of an every-down role.
“I think he’s going to be special like he was last year,” Mitchell said, via Cleveland.com. “He’ll be used a little more in the passing game than he was last year. Nick just continues to improve on the skill set that he has, and I think he has a fantastic skill set.”
Presumably when Kareem Hunt returns from his eight-game suspension, he’ll take some targets away from Chubb. In the first half of the season, however, expect Chubb to catch plenty of passes.
At the same time, it remains to be seen whether the Browns can throw to Chubb and do so effectively. As noted by Ben Baldwin of TheAthletic.com, analytics research shows that passes to wide receivers and tight ends are far more effective than passes to running backs. The Browns have devoted significant resources to acquire receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and tight end David Njoku. When you have those three players on your roster, you really ought to be throwing to them, not to your running back.
So while Chubb may get some of the targets that went to Johnson last year, the smart money is on the Browns targeting Beckham, Landry and Njoku far more than they target a running back.