Last year didn't go as planned for the Cleveland Browns, but for Nick Chubb, it was almost a landmark season.
Chubb finished his 2019 campaign as the league's rushing leader, only to see Tennessee's Derrick Henry blow past his yardage total with a 32-carry, 211-yard performance hours later. Chubb was this close to being crowned rushing king, even after all the struggles and drama that surrounding the 2019 Browns, and was instead left in the massive shadow of the hulking Henry, who went on to lead the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.
The second-place finish is nothing more than a past result, Chubb said Tuesday.
"[It did] not really bother me," Chubb said during a video-conference call with reporters. "Just more motivation. Trying to do it this year. Just working out, as I always do, working hard and running hard. I believe everything happens for a reason, and you just keep working and striving and things will fall into place for you. That is my mindset."
Such a mindset has worked well for Chubb, who has had quite a first two professional seasons. He's rushed for over 2,400 career yards and a total of 16 touchdowns in 32 games, providing the Browns with the franchise-changing back they've sought since the days of Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner.
He's also one half of a potentially prolific backfield duo, of which we only got a glimpse in 2019.
Kareem Hunt returns to team with Chubb in 2020, creating a Pro Bowl backfield for the Browns that should strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenses. Following Hunt's eight-game suspension in 2019, his return made Cleveland's offense more diverse and dangerous, even if at that point most hopes of a glorious playoff winter along Lake Erie had been swept away with the fall leaves.
Hunt brings an element to Cleveland's offense that could be very lucrative. While he only received 43 carries in his eight games, Hunt caught 37 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. A backfield featuring both at the same time means defenses will have to account for Chubb running and Hunt running and catching passes. Chubb continues to work on catching passes out of the backfield, an area in which he improved last season, and he could occupy the backfield by himself while No. 27 trots out wide to play alongside the receivers.
"It is exciting for sure. Definitely because he can do so many different things," Chubb said of Hunt. "It doesn't have to be him running the ball. It can be catching it out of the slot, like you said. I think we have a lot of guys on this team and a lot of playmakers, and you can't go wrong with who has the ball. Pick your poison. The coaches do a great job of dividing it up, even if they don't have to divide it up. If one guy is our guy, then we can go to him -- maybe he has a hot hand this game."
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski brings with him an offense that has demonstrated it can utilize multiple tight ends and multiple backs to create advantageous situations on a consistent basis. Browns general manager Andrew Berry has assembled the talent accordingly, making for an exciting group on paper.
Of course, a similar tale was told about these Browns last summer, too. The hope in Cleveland is this time, the potential is realized.
Perhaps that will include seeing Chubb with a crown on his head.