By: Reese Nasser
Both the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars have made clear investments in their backfields. Both teams have committed to the idea of a two-headed running back attack as well. This run by committee approach has slowly begun to take over the NFL with many teams opting to have two high class runners in their backfield. The Browns and Jaguars have each approached their backfields differently. Let’s compare the two.
The Jaguars signed running back James Robinson after the 2020 draft. The first year back exploded onto the scene. In 14 games, Robinson reached the endzone ten times with seven rushing and three receiving touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,070 yards and added another 344 through the air.
After the success of Robinson’s rookie year, it caught many Jaguars fans off guard when the team elected to use the 25th overall pick on Clemson running back Travis Etienne. Ettiene had a historic collegiate career alongside Jaguars new quarterback and #1 overall draft pick, Trevor Lawrence. Etienne racked up 110 touchdowns and 6,107 yards from scrimmage.
The potential of this duo is there, especially when you look at the other pieces surrounding them on offense. Both have proved to excel at the receiving game as well. During the Jaguars rookie minicamp, Etienne has only been participating with the wide receivers. During the 2020 season, Etienne had the highest receiving ranks of any running back.
So it begs a question of whether or not he will even be utilized in the backfield in Jacksonville.
The two-headed backfield in Cleveland may be the best in the NFL. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have proven to be two of the premier backs in the NFL. The two backs combined for 23 touchdowns and over 2,400 yards from scrimmage. Chubb and Hunt both play the position very differently from each other. Hunt is a more agile back who also excels at receiving. Hunt had eleven touchdowns on the season with five of them coming through the air.
Chubb is the opposite. He thrives off contact and looks for it. He may be the most aggressive back in football, only comparable to the likes of Titans running back Derrick Henry.
His aggressive, downhill running is what makes him so versatile. The ability to have such a contrast in running backs has brought this Browns offense to a whole different level.
Comparing the Backfields
Both backfields are more alike than people may think. Each team has a player that is at least somewhat comparable to the other. Chubb and Robinson mirror each other while Hunt and Etienne can be expected to play similar roles as well. Robinson has proven to live off of contact, much like Chubb.
Both backs run as if they have a chip on their shoulder, constantly trying to prove a point and prove that they belong.
Hunt and Etienne are both backs that excel at the receiving game. Both could line up next to other receivers and they wouldn’t miss a beat. They both play more agile than their counterparts.
These two backfields, while each at different points in their career, could both be at the top of the NFL this season. The young guys in Jacksonville will be attempting to still get their footing in the NFL. The seasoned vets in Cleveland are playing with their eyes on one prize: a super bowl. Even with these differences, each duo will be interesting to watch.