The Browns’ offseason has been one of the most in a long time. They made big moves at the quarterback and wide receiver position. They went all in on the draft and have been one of the most active teams in all aspects of the free agency. However, one position that hasn’t been discussed as much, that has had a lot of changes, is the running back position.
Last season, the Browns’ running back core was mainly made up of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Crowell was our lead back, but he decided to move on and signed a deal with the New York Jets. Because of this, they made a couple additions. They signed Carlos Hyde to a three-year deal and drafted former Georgia Bulldog, Nick Chubb, in the second round. On top of all of this, the Browns signed Johnson to a three-year contract extension. Seeing that he was given the extension and has been with the Browns his entire career, Johnson seems like he’ll be the starter, but how is this backfield supposed to work?
Johnson, in my opinion, is the one that can contribute the most to the offense. He has the most experience with the offense and he can attack any defense in multiple ways. Those two things alone are huge in making a great running back. One thing that sets him apart too is the praise he has from his teammates. Two well-known former teammates, Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins, continuously speak highly of Johnson. In that case, I see him being the clear favorite to start this year. However, Johnson can’t be playing every snap.
In the backfield, Hyde gives Johnson instant competition. Hyde is a proven rusher with two seasons of 1,000 rushing yards and he has proven to be a solid receiver out of the backfield. His goals are still to be the lead back and even wants to be the lead back in the NFL, so what sets him apart? His biggest problem is that he is injury-prone and is new to this offense. Going into the season I see him splitting carries with Johnson and getting only a little bit less of the share. Depending on how each of them does as the season progresses will ultimately affect who ends up getting more of the touches.
Lastly, there’s Nick Chubb. With Chubb being a rookie and having two proven running backs already there, he’ll be taking on more of a learning role. With training camp just starting, Johnson and Hyde have already taken him under the wings and are teaching him the ropes of the NFL. Chubb has a lot of potential to be a solid running back and the Browns didn’t use a second-round pick for nothing, so he will definitely get his share of touches. His share will just be a lot less than the other two. Knowing Hyde’s injury past though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a chance to shine more this season at some point.
Overall, the Browns will have a running back by committee this season led by Duke Johnson. This backfield will be extremely interesting to keep an eye on during training camp and throughout the season. I know I’m excited.