The Cleveland Browns will have a new-look backfield as they enter the 2018 season, although, Duke Johnson does remain on the team and even agreed to a three-year extension. Free agent Carlos Hyde returned home for a three-year deal as well and the team also drafted Nick Chubb in the second round. With an abundance of talent, everyone is wondering how Todd Haley will handle these three running backs.
You can always roll with the hot hand and that can work. It can actually be quite successful, but there still has to be some kind of structure. The hot hand only takes you so far. I’m a believer of getting into a rhythm and executing a game plan.
I think Hyde will be the lead back, eventually being named the starter. He is a three-down back who had a slow start to his career. The former Ohio State Buckeye has produced good numbers over the last two seasons and 2017 was a career year. Hyde (938 yards, eight touchdowns) produced better number than Isaiah Crowell (853 yards, two touchdowns) and set career highs in receptions (59) and receiving yards (350).
Nothing is going to be given to him, though; he is going to have to earn every touch because he isn’t in an ideal situation to produce similar numbers. Johnson was Cleveland’s leading receiver last and should be on the field during third down situations as well as being in the mix on passing downs in general. Not to mention, Chubb will take away some carries when they need fresh legs for third and short or goal line situations.
It is going to be difficult to replicate his 2017 production with two other backs eating into his playing time, but I have faith in Carlos. I enjoyed watching him play at Ohio State and although he is entering his fifth year in the league, there is more tread on the tires. Hyde had a combined 198 carries in his first two years and has exceeded 200 attempts in the past two with great production, too (2,439 total yards). The Ohio native has become a workhorse and needs that mentality playing for the Browns. Out of the three running backs mentioned, Carlos Hyde, has the most to prove.