Georgia Bulldogs in the NFL: Chubb's Start Unmatched in the Advanced Stats Era
Nick Chubb was incredible as a Georgia Bulldogs ball carrier, and that dominance has certainly translated to the highest level. In fact, no running back has had a better first two seasons on the ground, in this new era of advanced stats.
An outstanding NCAA career saw Nick Chubb rise to number two on the distinguished Georgia Bulldogs All-Time leading rusher list, trailing only the G.O.A.T. Hershel Walker. Chubb has now exploded onto the professional football scene, and in two seasons is now one of the best running backs in the NFL.
In today's information age, fans have access to more than just the standard statistics. Just a few years ago, when measuring who the best running back in the NFL was, fans used the stats they had access to. Stats such as rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry, combined with the old eye test. Those were the main measuring sticks.
However, Pro Football Focus has revolutionized football fandom with advanced stats, based on grading every play of every game. PFF now has advanced stats that are retroactive to the 1982 NFL Season, and only one player has earned a season grade of 90 or better, in his first two professional seasons. That player is current Cleveland Brown, and legendary Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb.
Surprisingly Chubb found himself on the bench to begin his NFL career. Head coach Hue Jackson decided to start Carlos Hyde, despite selecting Chubb with the third pick in round two of the 2018 NFL draft. Hyde started the first five games of the year and Duke Johnson started two of the next three. It wasn't until week seven of the season that the Brown's turned the team's rushing attack over to Nick Chubb. Unfortunately for coach Hue Jackson, perhaps he waited too long to give the ball to his rookie, as he was fired after a (2-5-1) start to the year.
Greg Williams took over as the team's head coach and Nick Chubb became the featured attraction on offense. He ripped off three 100-yard games after being promoted, including a career-high 176-yard breakout performance, in week 10 against the home state Atlanta Falcons. Despite starting just nine games, the Georgia Bulldogs star rushed for 996 yards and eight touchdowns. He also ran for an impressive 5.2 yards per attempt.
His strong performance earned him a PFF rushing grade of 90.2. The advanced stats site credited Nick Chubb with 28 explosive runs.
This past season under Freddie Kitchens, Chubb continued his assault on NFL defenses. He exploded for a career-high 1494 yards as the team's feature back and premier offensive player in 2019. Incredibly, he was able to maintain a 5.0 yards per carry average, despite toting the pigskin 106 more times. He managed to lead the NFL in rushing for most of the season, before being edged out by Derek Henry of the Tennessee Titans, on the season's final week.
Chubb also matched his 2018 touchdown total of eight and earned his first Pro Bowl Selection. PFF awarded him a new career-best rushing grade of 90.3. This made him the only running back to eclipse the 90+ mark for his first two seasons. This time Chubb ripped off 39 explosive runs, including an 88-yard touchdown dash. The 230-pound back was amazingly clocked at nearly 22 miles per hour during the run.
It's still early in his career, but what we have seen thus far from Nick Chubb is special. He has been outstanding.
If Chubb is his blessed with health and durability, the possibilities are endless. It would not be a shock at all to see a healthy Nick Chubb continue to ascend up the NFL career list, similar to his NCAA climb.
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