Nick Chubb should be the future of the Cleveland Browns backfield. As the team’s second-round pick in 2018, Chubb is expected to be the primary back in the offense for many years to come. He was one of the most productive running backs in college. As I illustrated on Wednesday, Chubb is a talented running back who Browns fans should get excited about.
On Wednesday, I took a look at the strengths of Chubb on the field. But, he is not a perfect prospect. In today’s Brown’s film room, I will take a look at the areas of Chubb’s game that are weaknesses or areas of concern. Some of these can be improved, but some can just not be changed. So, what are these areas of weaknesses?
Let’s take a look.
Browns 2018 NFL Draft Film Room Series
RB Nick Chubb: Strengths
Chubb is a big powerful running back with the speed to beat tackle angles and create big plays. But, he does not have quickness or fluidity. He will not make defenders miss with a quick elusive move. His make-you-miss ability comes from his cutting. When he is forced to go horizontal, it takes him a couple of steps for him to reach his top speed, allowing defenders to get to him. Because he is a bigger back, he has less fluidity than the smaller backs. Short area quickness and fluidity are just not the strengths of his game. Here are some examples of his lack of short area quickness and fluidity affecting his play.
In the first play versus Appalachian State, Chubb takes the handoff and sees the blocking flowing to the right, so the running back cuts to the left behind the flow of blockers. He is faced with an unblocked defender, who is the only one left on the edge to stop Chubb from getting loose. But, Chubb is unable to get away from the defender cleanly. He was not fluid enough to get his lower body out of the way of the defender’s tackle attempt. Chubb loses his balance and stumbles to regain it. After a few steps, he regains his balance but is approached by another defender. He was able to get upright in time to be able to make a move to avoid the runner, however, his lack of quickness and fluidity did not allow him to elude this defender. He was stopped for a loss. He had two opportunities to get loose but was unable to elude those two defenders.
In the second play versus Alabama, Chubb has a handoff to the right edge of the line. The Georgia blocking is pretty good, but Chubb is faced with an unblocked defender from the secondary. He tries to cut to the outside and around the defender, but he is tripped up and dropped for a loss. He was unable to move his feet quick enough to get out the grasp of the defender. His fluidity did not get him clear.
The final play comes against Alabama again. Chubb takes the ball and tries to go up the middle, however, that is clogged, so the back tries to cut to the outside. But, he is not quick enough to move to the outside. The penetrating defensive lineman is able to trip him up enough to get help from his teammates to finish off the tackle. Quickness would have helped him elude that defender.
Chubb is really raw in the passing game. He was not asked to be a receiver very often and so he lacks the refinement in his route running and nuances as a receiver. He also is not a great blocker, even though he is able to be blocked lineman with size and physicality. Technique and blocking assignments are a work in progress for Chubb as a blocker. Here are some examples of these weak spots.
The first play is against Tennessee where Chubb is called upon to block in the passing game. It is a play action pass, so Chubb has faked a handoff. When Chubb passes the quarterback, he looks sort of lost on whom he should block. His slow recognition causes him to miss helping the left tackle on the edge. The tackle is beat and Chubb is not in a position to help in any way. The quarterback is sacked.
The second play comes against Kentucky in a pass situation, this time with Chubb called to go out as a receiver. Chubb is once against faked a handoff in the play action pass play. He is supposed to leak out of the backfield to be a dump off option for the quarterback. But, Chubb gets stuck trying to get through the line. He is unable to stay clean and get out of the backfield, causing the quarterback to have no dump off option. This causes the quarterback to hold onto the ball and get sacked.
The final play comes against Tennessee again. Chubb is called to run a swing route out to the left of the backfield. But, Chubb runs a poor route. He does not run at full speed and turns around too early to look for the ball, causing his route to not extend out too much from the backfield. Though the pass is not accurate and uncatchable, the play would not have been successful because the extension of the route allowed the linebacker to quickly close on him. He was not far enough out of the backfield to get open enough even if the ball was thrown accurately and caught.
The final concern is his health. Chubb had a serious knee injury in 2015 that causes him to miss the last part of his sophomore season. The injury hurt his athleticism the following season and so he has had to try to recover and regain the previous athleticism that he had before the injury. But, the injury to the knee is also a concern in terms of re-injury. So, health is a concern for Chubb.