Browns’ Chubb runs wild for 131 yards to help Patriots beat Browns

Published: 10/27/2019 9:43:57 PM
Modified: 10/27/2019 9:43:26 PM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Second-round draft stud Nick Chubb ran wild on Sunday, gaining 131 yards on 20 carries with two fumbles to help the New England Patriots beat the Cleveland Browns 27-13 at Gillette Stadium.
 
Many observers of the 2018 draft believe that the Browns’ star running back could have helped the Patriots become a winning team, and on Sunday the sofa scouts were proven right. Not only did Chubb weaponize himself to the tune of 131 yards, he twice delivered the football to New England, including one fumble that Dont’a Hightower returned 26 yards for a touchdown.
 
The Patriots remain undefeated when Chubb takes the field.
 
“They’re a good team,” Chubb said of the Patriots. “For the most part they don’t beat themselves and that’s what we do a lot.”
 
It was a performance that casts serious doubts on the Patriots’ decision to draft Sophomore Slumpback Sony Michel 31st overall in 2018. Michel naysayers are quick to point out that no one should ever take a running back in the first round, and that the Patriots should definitely have taken Chubb in the first round. Instead, the Browns drafted him four picks later at 35th overall. Given that the 35th pick is in the second round, that makes Cleveland way smarter and better at drafting. The Browns are now 9-13-1 since the 2018 draft, in which they had four of the first 35 picks.
 
In spite of Michel, the Patriots (8-0) have won 13 consecutive games, a streak that includes three wins in the 2018 postseason. If you include that postseason, Michel ran for 1,267 yards with 12 touchdowns in 16 games last year as a rookie draft bust. But now as a sophomore slumpback, Michel is struggling even worse. On Sunday, he had 74 yards on 21 carries. With performances like that, people point to the three backup offensive linemen playing in front of Michel and wonder if he’s making those backups look bad by constantly running into a group of defenders in the backfield and getting tackled.
 
Clearly, the Patriots need a player like Chubb, who despite his deficiencies in pass protection plays behind an offensive line that is not currently struggling in the run game. For example, in the first quarter Chubb cut back through a wide-open hole in the line, eluded multiple would-be tacklers in open space, and burst upfield toward the end zone, gaining 44 yards before New England’s Jonathan Jones stripped him of the football. Devin McCourty recovered the fumble at the Patriots’ 4-yard line. It was Chubb’s second turnover in as many snaps.
 
Despite being the most important player on the field for both teams, Chubb only carried the ball one time in the fourth quarter as the Browns were trailing by multiple scores. Indicative of his inferiority, Michel had eight carries for 18 yards garbage time when his team was ahead by multiple scores and trying to kill clock. With the Browns very well aware that the Patriots were looking to run in this situation, Michel’s yards per carry dropped from 4.3 to 3.5 for the game. That final mark in the box score is everything, as box scores are well-known for tracking all of the minute things that matter in helping teams win football games and the context necessary to understand those things.
 
The Patriots will have an opportunity to sign Chubb for themselves when he is set to become a free agent after the 2021 season. That said, Michel may still be under contract at that time, because teams have an option to control their first-round picks for an additional season. However, it’s more likely that Chubb will get a huge contract from the Browns at that point and the Patriots will only be paying Michel his first-round tender, which will be significantly less.
 
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Browns. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.


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