Sudden, subtle, efficient. The list of adjectives to describe Nick Chubb has become an exhaustive exercise as the years wear on, but somehow, like a famed magician, he continues to pull new tricks out of his bag to add toward his illustrious skill set as one of the league’s most premier ball-carriers.
While it feels like the former second-round selection has been in the league for nearly a decade, Chubb is still just 25 years of age. A four-year career in which he’s totaled more than 4,000 yards on the ground to the tune of 5.3 yards a carry, Chubb’s game has continued to diversify as much as the faces around him have. A constant of success for Cleveland since his arrival, he’s endured four head coaches in four years but remained the nucleus on offense for a Browns unit that has slowly gelled into one of the league’s premier attacks.
His skill set comes at you from a variety of different avenues that are matched by few in football. While Derrick Henry is the poster child for running backs with his herculean size and power-speed combo that makes him nearly impossible to wrangle down, and talents in Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara offer a dual-threat weapon that has welcomed them into the conversation as football’s “RB1,” Chubb, whether it’s due to the size of market Cleveland fits itself in or his throwback, downhill style of play where flash is an afterthought, doesn’t receive the necessary recognition as one of the elite offensive talents the game has to offer.
Sunday was his latest showcase in Cleveland’s shootout loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. An afternoon that saw him record 161 yards on the ground via 21 attempts, good for a staggering 7.7 yards per carry, Chubb shouldered the offensive load behind a 42-point effort from Cleveland’s offense. Whether it be inside or outside the tackles, Chubb is as difficult a ball-carrier to game plan for as any weapon in the league. Known for his low pad level and ability to maintain speed and power through wimpy tacklers, attempting to haul down the 5-foot-11, 227-pound bowling ball in Chubb for 60 minutes wears down your will as a defender.
This is silly here from the former Georgia Bulldog product. Everything that Chubb is as a running back is encapsulated in this run.
As he clears the LOS, the fun starts. A quick side-step of the safety, a stiff arm of Derwin James, another stiff-arm of the corner, and Chubb is off to the races. A carry in which he made a total of three Chargers defenders whiff really makes your eyes pop when he reaches open grass. A between-the-tackles rumbler, his speed by no means is that of the aforementioned McCaffrey or Kamara, but boy can Chubb pick ‘em up and put ‘em down in the open field.
A Pro Bowl selection in each of the last two seasons, Chubb is only improving as the seasons churn on. In a backfield where he splits duties with talented speed-threat Kareem Hunt, one can only ponder just how gaudy Chubb’s stat lines would be if given the opportunity to work solely. And while 64 carries in the last three weeks is an awfully heavy load to carry, Hunt’s 36 carries and four scores in that same timeframe ultimately limit the true impact Chubb has in ball games, which in turn has masked his public viewpoint.
A dynamic talent in the first year of a sparkling new contract extension, his quiet but violent approach to the game has welcomed a myriad of milestones just four years into his career. If the present is any sign of the future, Chubb is just getting started, and it’s about time his game is highlighted as one of the best the NFL has to offer.