The Cleveland Browns not bringing back Kareem Hunt is not surprising

BEREA, OH - JULY 27: Kareem Hunt #27 of the Cleveland Browns runs a drill during Cleveland Browns training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 27, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - JULY 27: Kareem Hunt #27 of the Cleveland Browns runs a drill during Cleveland Browns training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 27, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are making the right call not bringing back Kareem Hunt.

It seems the Cleveland Browns have finally seen what’s been right in front of their eyes the whole time; Kareem Hunt just isn’t that guy. The Browns have apparently made the call to not bring back Hunt after three-and-a-half seasons with the Browns. Sure, everyone now is saying this makes sense, considering his career lows in yards per carry, per catch, per target, per route run and per yards after contact. His PFF run grade was also the worst of his career, as was his broken tackle rate. The thing is, this isn’t unexpected.

How he played in 2022 was exactly how he played in 2019 and 2020. It was 2021 that was the outlier. In 2022 he had a YPC of 3.8, which was only slightly worse than his rate in 2019 and 2022, which was 4.2.

That means that assuming the average works out, you went from 11.4 yards per three plays to 12.6 yards per three plays. Either way, it’s a first down. So why is 2022 a bad year but 2019 and 2022 were fine? There’s really no difference because the same issues that plagued the team in 2019 popped up in 2022; an unstable offensive line. Keep in mind that Chubb had a 5.0 YPC in 2019, before jumping up to 5.5+ in the next two seasons, only for it to fall back to 5.0 in 2022.

Is Chubb declining too, or is it more likely that the offensive line wasn’t as good?

This isn’t solely on Hunt. His production was in line with what he was giving the Browns the last few seasons. No, the stat heads may think the advanced stats tell us why Hunt has only now fallen off, but I’ve been saying since he arrived that he isn’t the running back people claimed he was.

Now, at 27, Hunt is a free agent that isn’t garnering much attention and it all comes down to one key factor; his running style.

Kareem Hunt’s running style, and little else, is why teams are passing on him

During Hunt’s time in Cleveland over the last four years, you know what people never complained about with Hunt? His speed. The one thing that is now being brought up by Terry Pluto. Do you know what was a point of contention, especially on this site? His inconsistent approach to running the ball. Unlike Chubb who would weave in and out of lanes to avoid being hit directly, Hunt would almost leap to a stop right in front of a defender and then plow into him.

It was nonsensical, as it never seemed to work. It’s why in four seasons, Hunt only broke double-digit tackles once. He just didn’t care about evading the tackle, he wanted to relish in the hit. I think if you can coach up Hunt and get him to stop seeking out contact, I think Hunt could still help a team.

After all, if we’re talking about career lows in yards after contact, Hunt had the same fall that Chubb did. Hunt’s 2022 career low was 1.9, down .04 from his previous low in 2020 when it was 2.3. Chubb had the same fall, with his 2020 season having a career low of 2.7, and now dropping by .4 to 2.3 in 2022.

Clearly, this is less to do about talent, and more to do about how the offensive line executed in 2022. Still, I don’t think Hunt is a fit for the Browns anymore regardless. He’s not the pass-catcher that Kansas City made him out to be, and that’s what the Browns needed from him. He never delivered that, and the offense always, every year he was here, took a step back when he was on the field over Chubb.

So don’t get it twisted, I’m happy to move on from Hunt, but his decline in 2022 had less to do about his “speed” and more to do with a poorly assembled offensive line that clearly took a step back running the ball in 2022.

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