The Pittsburgh Steelers have flirted with the concept of using a two-back set, and to be fair, we have seen it here and there for a few snaps. This season, they have gotten James Conner and Jaylen Samuels on the field at the same time, but they haven’t even had both of them available simultaneously since the Week Five loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
That will change for tonight’s game against the Cleveland Browns, and it will be interesting to see if we get a look at this package again. Down another wide receiver, it only increases the chances of that happening. But it’s a virtual certainty that we will see the Browns’ top two backs on the field at the same time.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt spent quite a bit of time on the field together for Cleveland, with Hunt often serving in a blocking role. Chubb was the primary ball carrier, rushing for 116 yards on just 20 carries against the Buffalo Bills, and 113 of those yards were accumulated on plays on which Hunt was also on the field.
Hunt also rushed four times for 30 yards, and caught seven passes for 44 yards, 74 total yards of offense on 11 touches. The Browns didn’t even have Antonio Callaway active for the game, though Freddie Kitchens did say it would be a one-game thing.
“With the acquisition and recent use of Hunt, their backfield tandem with he and Nick Chubb, is going to be a big challenge”, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Monday. “We better start there. Chubb’s almost got 1000 yards on the season. If you don’t slow him down, there’s no need to talk about the wide receiver tandem and things you need to do to minimize their impact on the game”.
The Browns have a pair of former Pro Bowl wide receivers in-house in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., but often enough, the catalyst of their offense has been Chubb, who has 919 rushing yards on 174 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per, with six rushing scores. He also has 166 yards on 27 receptions.
“We better minimize their running game and what that guy brings, and what Hunt potentially brings, not only those guys individually, but increasingly so of late, the use of both of them”, Tomlin said. “Looking at the Buffalo tape, both of those guys employed at the same time is particularly challenging, and I would imagine as Hunt is more available to them, that package is going to continue to grow. We’re going to have to defend some things in that package this week that we didn’t even see on Buffalo tape”.