NFL running back Nick Chubb is top-notch. He has been a key player for the Cleveland Browns and a fantasy football stud for many owners. But on Monday night, he suffered a gruesome knee injury that could end his season and derail the Browns’ playoff hopes. Here is everything you need to know about Nick Chubb’s injury: how it happened, how serious it is, how it will affect the Browns and fantasy football, and what you can do about it.
How did Nick Chubb get injured?
The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Browns’ Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns were trailing 7-3 and had a first-and-goal at the Steelers’ 8-yard line. Chubb took a handoff from Deshaun Watson and ran to the left side. Minkah Fitzpatrick, a safety for the Steelers, met him and struck him low on his left knee. Chubb’s leg bent awkwardly under him as he fell to the ground.
He immediately grabbed his knee and took off his helmet in pain. As he lay on the turf, teammates and medical personnel were all around him. The crowd at Acrisure Stadium gasped as a replay of the injury was shown on the video board. The ESPN broadcast team decided not to show it again, saying it was “as bad as you can imagine”.
Chubb was given a round of applause from both Browns and Steelers fans as he was carted off the field. He was evaluated at a local hospital. The Browns announced that he had a knee injury and would not return to the game.
What is the extent of Nick Chubb’s injury?
The full extent of Nick Chubb’s injury is still unknown, but it does not look good. According to Jordan Schultz of ESPN, sources fear that Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury that involved multiple ligaments. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to confirm the diagnosis.
This is not the first time that Chubb has suffered a major knee injury in his career. In 2015, when he was playing for Georgia in college, he tore his ACL, MCL, PCL, and LCL in his left knee. He underwent surgery and missed most of that season. He was able to return in 2016 and finish his college career with over 4,700 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns.
The Browns drafted Chubb in the 2018 NFL Draft’s second round. Soon, he became a top-league running back. In 16 games (nine starts), he ran for 996 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. With 1,494 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games (all starts), he topped the AFC in 2019. He played in his first Pro Bowl.
In 2020, he missed four games due to a calf injury but still managed to rush for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games (all starts). He made his second Pro Bowl appearance and helped the Browns reach their first playoff berth since 2002.
This season, before his injury, he had rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in two games (both starts). He was averaging a career-high 5.7 yards per carry.
How will the Browns cope without Nick Chubb?
Losing Nick Chubb is a huge blow for the Browns, who rely heavily on their running game to power their offense. Chubb is not only a dynamic runner who can break tackles, make cuts, and outrun defenders, but also a reliable pass protector and receiver. He is the focal point of the Browns’ offense and the leader of their locker room.
Without Chubb, the Browns will have to rely on their other running backs to fill the void. The most likely candidate to take over the lead role is Jerome Ford, a fifth-round pick in 2020 who has shown flashes of potential. Ford had eight carries for 67 yards and a touchdown in relief of Chubb on Monday night. He also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Watson.
Ford is a speedy and elusive back who can make big plays in the open field. He can see holes and burst through them with patience. He also has decent hands and can catch passes out of the backfield. However, he is not as powerful or durable as Chubb and may struggle to handle a heavy workload.
The Browns also have Pierre Strong Jr., a rookie fourth-round pick who they acquired from the New England Patriots in a trade last week. Strong had 10 carries for 37 yards in his debut with the Browns on Monday night. He is a big and physical back who can run between tackles and break tackles. He also has good speed and acceleration to get to the edge and turn the corner. However, he is not very experienced or polished as a runner and may need more time to adjust to the NFL level.
The Browns may also look to sign a free agent running back to add some depth and experience to their backfield. Some of the available options include Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and Frank Gore. Hunt is a familiar face who played for the Browns from 2019 to 2021 before being released after demanding a trade. He is a versatile and explosive back who can run, catch, and block. However, he may have some bad blood with the Browns and may not be willing to return.
Following his release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in August, Fournette is another former Pro Bowl running back who is still looking for a team. He is a powerful and bruising back who can wear down defenses and break big runs. However, he has struggled with injuries and consistency throughout his career and may not fit well with the Browns’ scheme.
Bell, Gurley, Peterson, and Gore are all veteran running backs who have had great success in the past but are past their prime now. They may still have some gas left in the tank, but they may not be able to handle a significant role or produce at a high level.
The Browns will also have to adjust their offensive scheme and play-calling without Chubb. They may have to rely more on their passing game and their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, whom they acquired from the Houston Texans in a blockbuster trade in 2022. Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy and motivated, but he has had his share of issues on and off the field.
More than 20 women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct, and he is now subject to civil lawsuits and potential criminal charges. The NFL has also been investigating his case and could suspend or fine him at any time. Despite these concerns, the Browns decided to take a risk and trade for him anyway, giving up three first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two players, all following Nick Chubb’s injury.
Watson has not been playing at his best level since joining the Browns. In seven games with them, he has thrown for 1,542 yards, eight touchdowns, and six interceptions. He has completed 60.8% of his passes and posted a passer rating of 77.4. He has also added 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Watson has been inconsistent and erratic with his decision-making and accuracy. He has also been sacked 17 times and fumbled four times (losing two). He has not shown much chemistry or rapport with his receivers or tight ends. Some fans and media members have also criticized him for his leadership and attitude.
The Browns need Watson to step up without Chubb. They must support him, protect the line, and boost receiver production, especially from Beckham Jr., Landry, and others. However, facing the Steelers’ pressure and interceptions is a challenge post-Chubb.
The Browns will also have to lean on their defense more without Chubb. Their defense has improved this season under new coordinator Joe Woods. They have added some talent through free agency (Jadeveon Clowney, John Johnson III, Troy Hill) and the draft (Greg Newsome II, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah). They have also seen some improvement from their returning players (Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Ronnie Harrison Jr., and Greedy Williams). However, they will face a tough challenge in stopping the Steelers’ offense, which has been exploiting the weaknesses of other teams’ defenses since Nick Chubb’s injury.