Injury heartbreaks, particularly at the running back position, continued into Week 2 as Nick Chubb suffered a significant season-ending knee injury against the Steelers, the first major injury he’s had to contend with since 2015.
Cleveland’s balanced attack initially changed dramatically after Chubb’s exit, going three runs to 14 pass plays. But things evened out again once Jerome Ford got things going.
After receiving only eight carries in 2022, the Browns felt good enough about Ford to make him their clear No. 2 back behind Chubb. He displayed why against the Steelers on Monday night, highlighted by a 69-yard run where he cut back and came inches away from outrunning the Pittsburgh defense.
As you can see below, that 69-yard run wasn’t the play where he created something out of nothing, helping to result in a 16-carry, 106-yard night rushing with three receptions for 25 yards and a score.
Yet, Kevin Stefanski made one thing very clear on Tuesday afternoon.
“You don’t replace Nick Chubb,” Stefanski said. “You just don’t do that.”
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT MOVING FORWARD?
At this point, it’s tough to say how much more involved other backs like Pierre Strong will be. He got only two carries on Monday, but having only been a Brown since just before the regular season started, he may not be fully up to speed with the offensive scheme. The trade to get Strong did not signify panic on the part of the Browns to add depth behind Chubb and Ford, so a Chubb-like workload isn’t out of the realm of possibility moving forward.
The Browns are reportedly scouting the market to bring in a third back.
But, these aren’t very inspiring names. After signs that Cam Akers could be getting close to his old form late last season, he only amassed 29 yards on 22 carries against the Seahawks before being a healthy scratch in week 2. And while Browns faithful might like a Kareem Hunt reunion, he was let go and remained let go during this past offseason for a reason, after a career-low 3.8 yards-per-carry in 2022. However, Mary Kay Cabot reported Hunt was in Cleveland for a visit today.
Anyways, what does Ford bring to the table? Ford was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati. Ford hardly saw the field with the Browns in 2022, so we must reflect on his college days.
After transferring from Alabama, Ford was a key piece of Cincinnati’s run to the College Football Playoff in 2021 and put together some impressive highlights. Ford showed breakaway speed and routinely left players in the dust, creating big plays for the Bearcats. As shown on MNF, his speed allows him to blow by defenders (4.46 40), and his quickness allows him to evade tackles. However, his blocking ability is an area of concern for the young back. Throughout his college career, he regularly got knocked off his feet, leading to pressures and sacks for Desmond Ridder.
THE COST TO GET FORD OFF THE WAIVER WIRE
Considering his success in Week 2, and the unintimidating options out there at running back, Ford will be a buy-high on your Week 3 waiver wires, but that’s okay. If he does command a Chubb-like workload behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, you’re picking up an RB2 with RB1 upside, and the price is justified.
The waiver wire is for those kinds of pickups, much more than your dart-throw, one-week streamers. The Wolf blasted Ford all the way up to RB22 and 66 overall on his updated 2023 Rest of Season Big Board.