CLEVELAND — New Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken is known for his “throw to win” way of calling plays, but that does not mean he abandons the running game at all costs.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield said the Browns might have to do some convincing when it came to running plays for soon-to-be second-year back Nick Chubb, but while addressing the media in his introductory press conference last week, Monken refuted those claims.
“I think that is a little bit of a stretch,” Monken said. “I like scoring points so however that is, I think that is a little misnomer.
“At Tampa, we did throw it. I did like to throw it of course, but if you take first-quarter stats, if you take first-half stats and if you take one-score games, you will find we were right there with other teams [in run-pass balance] that made the playoffs and it wasn’t that extreme. The more often you are in two-minute at the end of the game and you are down, the more often you are going to throw it.”
Of all rookie running backs who have played for the Browns since their founding in 1946, no one rushed for more yards than Chubb, as he set the franchise single-season record in a 26-18 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 23.
Chubb eclipsed the rookie rushing record set by Trent Richardson during the 2012 season and needed 84 less attempts to do so.
Chubb finished the 2018 season, one in which he was seldom used in the first seven games, with 996 yards and eight touchdowns on 192 carries. Chubb had 11 20-yard runs, four 40-yard bursts and 47 first-down conversions.
Chubb rushed for 788 of his 996 yards and five of his eight touchdowns on 140 carries with new head coach Freddie Kitchens calling the plays.
“Balance is multiple skill players touching the football,” Monken said. “To me, it is not always just run-pass (balance). It is, ‘Do you have enough skill players where they can touch the football?’ Last year at Tampa, we almost had six guys -- if O.J. (Howard) doesn’t get hurt -- with 700-plus yards from the line of scrimmage.
“That, to me, is balance. You have a number of guys who can hurt you from a matchup standpoint. Is running the football important? Sure because in order to win, you have to be explosive and not turn the ball over. How do you become explosive? Space players and throwing it over their heads or throwing in intermediate pockets, and running the football adds to that.”
Whether Monken decides to pass with Mayfield or run with Chubb, he understands the most important thing is bringing along the younger players and helping them find ways to build on their accomplishments from the 2018 season.
“This is a developmental league,” Monken said. “You are only going to get so many draft picks. You are only going to get so many free agents. You have to develop your younger players. It is maximizing players’ measurable skillsets. That is what you are paid to do is get the players to play at a high level.”