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Nick Chubb Breaks Down What Changed For The Browns In 2020 And Baker Mayfield’s Growth As A Quarterback

The Cleveland Browns snapped an 18-year playoff drought this season, advancing to the Divisional Round with a win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers before losing to the eventual AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. It was the most successful Browns season since they returned to Cleveland in 1999, thanks in large part to the young core of talent they’ve built on both sides of the ball.

Their two former top-overall picks, Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield, led the way, helped by other high draft picks like Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb, the latter of whom came in with Mayfield in the 2018 Draft and has been a beacon of hope from the beginning for the Browns, rushing for 3,557 yards in his three seasons in Cleveland and emerging as one of the league’s best backs. This year, he topped 1,000 yards for the second straight season and had 12 touchdowns despite missing six games with a knee injury.

On Thursday, Uproxx Sports got the chance to talk with Chubb on behalf of Sleep Number about this Browns season, what he saw as the biggest change in Cleveland in 2020, the development of Mayfield, his own growth as a player on and off the field, the Chiefs defense, and more.

I just want to start by saying I’m a Browns fan so thank you for the most enjoyable season of watching Browns football of my lifetime.

[laughs] Yeah, man.

What has been the difference this year and what did you feel about how things went and what seemed to be a bit of a change in how this team approached games and was able to finish games?

It was overall a big difference from my previous years here. It was a culture change, a mindset change, an attitude change. All those things play a role into us coming out and winning 11 games in a regular season. And I think the biggest thing was just the team all buying in, listening to coach Stefanski. He preached about working, working every day, working hard every day to get to where we want to be, and all the guys bought in. All the veterans, rookies, we’re all on the same page. We want to win. Tired of losing and those days are over with. And I think that’s the biggest thing that kind of shifted us into where we are now.

You came in with Baker and you’ve seen his progression as as a pro. What did you see as the biggest thing this year for him in terms of both him being a leader and what he’s doing on the field?

I came in with him, so I saw him grow in every way, and the biggest thing that he’s doing now that is decision making and maybe confidence. I mean, he can make any throw on the field, just a matter of should he or should he not, you know, and I think he finally, coach Stefanski stayed on him about just making the right decision, making the right choice, and he’s doing that. He’s got his confidence back, which I don’t think really ever left because confidence … I mean, Baker, that’s this guy he is. He’s very confident himself and that’s how he plays, that’s how he brings intensity for us and for everyone around a team. I think the biggest thing was him making the right decisions as a quarterback.

Yeah. And then for you, what have you felt has been your biggest point of growth in your professional career from being a rookie to now as one of the best backs in the league?

I mean, for me personally, I don’t know it’s just, it’s just maturing some. Seeing things fully, understanding football. You know, you’re not really asked to do that much stuff in high school and college, but I feel I really understand football now. I understand what my linemen are trying to do, how they’re trying to block, different blocks. What my fullback is trying to do, what what the run is designed to look like. I think a full understanding about that has really helped me see the field, and seeing what hole I’m supposed to hit and try to get into.

This will be this will be your first season with the Browns where you’re not going to have a coaching change this offseason. What are you looking forward to about that since you know the system, you know what coach Stefanski and this staff wants you to do, and what do you think that’s going to allow you guys to do in terms of taking another step next year?

Yeah, this is the first year going into a season with the same head coach since I’ve been here. It’s something that I think for us, I mean, we can just really dive into the playbook. Really learn everything there is to know. Learn the playbook inside and out. Build the chemistry, throwing the ball, you know, Baker to all of us skill guys, and just really you know use that to our advantage. Really take another step forward and, you know, kind of distance ourselves from everyone around us.

What was the learning experience of this playoff run? You beat a Steelers team that’s kind of been a roadblock forever for this franchise, and then you go face this Chiefs team who is that at the top of the game right now. What are the things that you learn personally and you think the team can learn from that experience going forward?

Yeah, I mean, they always say every game is important no matter who you’re playing but playoffs is 10 times more important than a regular game. I mean, it’s win or go home and you only have one shot. It’s not like basketball, baseball, where you have a series. You have one game go out there and play and you got to make it happen. You got to make the play. That’s the biggest thing. You got that one shot, you got to take full advantage of it. And there’s no re-dos.

One thing when I talk to young guys is they say when you come into the pros you really learn the importance of taking care of your body with the things off the field, whether that’s rest and recovery or nutrition. What are the things you’ve learned about that in your pro career and how do you try to make sure that your body is always taken care of for when you get to gameday?

Yeah, that’s one of the biggest differences too, I’m not a little kid anymore. I can’t run off, eat McDonald’s and candy and things like that. And so for me, I really had to get my diet right, take care of my body, but I mean, everybody has their own thing. You know people like cold tubs. People like Normatechs, like massages, but I mean, for the most part, I like to sleep a lot. I mean, I get great night’s sleep, great eight hours of sleep in my Sleep Number bed. It tells me exactly how I slept that night what I should probably do better and things like that. So I think sleep has optimized my recovery. I deal with injuries as we all do in the NFL, so a great night’s sleep in my bed gets me up feeling great the next day. It gives me a boost of energy for the next day, boost my performance overall. So I think a great night’s sleep, you can’t beat that. It’s better than anything they tell you. So yeah, that’s pretty much what I’m doing throughout the whole season, get a great night’s sleep.

If somebody like Leonard Fournette were to call you this week and ask, since you’ve played this Chief defense recently, what would be your advice you’d give him about going up against this team and the scouting report you would give him about what he’s going to see from the Chiefs defense?

Yeah, I would tell him the Chiefs defense are a bunch of fast guys. They play hard and fast, but I mean, you get that ball you got it run it. You gotta, whatever hole you see just hit it full speed. You’ll be able to break a couple arm tackles, and, yeah, just hit it full speed. Don’t hesitate, don’t look around and just get the ball, get downhill and break tackles.

Finally, what what are you looking for next season to see in your personal growth and then also the the growth of the Browns as a team?

For me, honestly, I’m just trying to learn the game even more, to be able to be on the field more and do everything they asked me to do — running, catching, all those things. Work on my game overall. And as a team, just keep getting better. Last year wasn’t enough. Let’s go. Let’s go even further. So that all starts in practice to go out every day compete hard in practice, practice hard, work hard, and let’s get this thing rolling again.