‘It F-ing Hurts’: Browns Players Seem To Know They’re Like A Car Without An Engine After Losing Nick Chubb
If you like football, you can’t possibly not like Nick Chubb. Even as a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I don’t know that there is a player in the game today who better personifies how I view the game than the Cleveland Browns running back. It doesn’t matter what uniform he wears. He’s good for the game. He is the game, as it should be, both on and off the field.
And we’re not going to see him play again for a long time, if ever, after suffering a horrific knee injury in last night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While they still managed to put up a fight without them, it was clear that his loss deflated that entire locker room.
“Nick is like the engine of the team”, WR Amari Cooper said of his teammate after the game, via Jake Trotter, covering the team for ESPN. “Best player on the team. It’s tragic. It’s very unfortunate. I’m very said for Nick. Said for this team losing Nick. Not only is it not ideal, it’s a tragedy”.
It certainly is for the Browns’ ambitions for success moving forward. The loss of Chubb will completely redefine who they are as a team, certainly on offense, even if the defense has made significant strides—assuming that group is healthy, as a number of starters were banged up as well by the finish.
But the comment that sticks out to me is that Chubb is the engine of the team. And that’s because he is. Anybody who’s watched the eight games QB Deshaun Watson has played under center knows this is not his team, or his offense. It was still Chubb’s, because it’s through him that the offense actually works. Watson hasn’t shown as of yet that he can be the reason they win games.
Chubb has repeatedly dragged the Browns across finish lines they had no business approaching were it not for him. Arguably one of the most dominant runners not just of his era but in the history of the game, he is perennially good for 1000-plus yards at a very high efficiency level, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He’s had a success rate of 50 percent of better in each of the past four seasons.
Contrary to what JuJu Smith-Schuster or Ja’Marr Chase might say, the Browns will not be the Browns without Nick Chubb. Losing him is about as bad as it is for most teams to lose their quarterback for the season—in some sense, perhaps worse, due to the potential obstacles of his ever being able to return to the player he once was.
“It fucking hurts”, DE Myles Garrett said after the game from the podium in a candid moment. “That’s our brother. That’s my brother. Been together for a long time. It’s a blow for the whole team, and we don’t want his injury to be in vain.
We’ve seen devastating injuries and medical incidents on the football field, certainly. The Steelers had their Ryan Shazier moment. The entire sports community nearly saw Damar Hamlin lose his life on the field not even a year ago.
But not only was Chubb’s injury painful to watch (and if you haven’t seen the second angle, I don’t recommend seeking it out. It’s disturbing), it’s painful to think about what it does to the game itself. There aren’t many players left like Nick Chubb. And the ones who are aren’t nearly as good, or good for the game. This is a loss for the football community as a whole, as far as I’m concerned.