Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens Footwork Series Part II: #Browns RB Nick Chubb Is Incredible

Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines the footwork of Nick Chubb. One of the NFL’s elite running backs, Chubb sees the game several steps ahead of most running backs and has the footwork to move in ways that few do. 

Nick Chubb moves like a spider. A spider with a cast-iron exoskeleton.

When you think of Nick Chubb this season, especially against the Eagles, you’ll probably remember the 54-yard run where Chubb stiff-arms the 295-pound defensive end to the ground about 10 percent into the play. It’s an amazing display of leverage, strength, and balance from a 227-pound running back.

When I think of Nick Chubb this season, especially against the Eagles, I think about his incredible vision and footwork. Few backs are planning on how they’re going to reach the last line of defense before the run begins and have a multi-step plan to set up his opponents to make it happen.

Of the three plays shared in this analysis below, you’ll see Chubb diagnosing how the defense is intending to play him pre-snap and working through the line with an endgame to defeat the backside pursuit of a defensive back—an endgame he devised before he ever got the ball.

How do you know? Chubb’s footwork gives it away. All three plays illustrate how Chubb often breaks the rules of conventional footwork so he can induce pursuit to shoot across his frame and miss.

The Cleveland Browns’ running back is 2-3 steps ahead of the average NFL starter at the position.

Video and Graphics Editing by Justin Johnson

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He’s a dynamic mover disguised as a one-cut runner who uses his footwork to maintain as much of a solid base as possible. Chubb tries to earn and maintain running gaits and positions of power, balance, and leverage for as long as he can during a run.

He knows it’s the key for him to break tackles, maximize his acceleration, and bleed the most from every touch. He’s an incredibly savvy running back arguably at the height of his physical powers.

Arguably, because if he never tore three ligaments in his left knee as a sophomore, you might have seen an even more explosive football player right now.

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2 responses to “Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens Footwork Series Part II: #Browns RB Nick Chubb Is Incredible”

  1. Matt, you constantly cite Frank Gore and Nick Chubb as teaching tape for being masters of the technical, scheme, and footwork side of RB craft. BOTH of those guys were extremely explosive in college before having knee injuries. Do you think it’s coincidence that both of these guys had knee injuries, like that loss of explosiveness might have pushed them to doubling down on craft? Or were these guys just as skilled as runners BEFORE the injuries? Have you seen any early tape that might give you a sense?

    • They were craftsmen before they got hurt. In fact, injuries often force the player to dedicate more time to their physical well-being that could have been devoted to studying the game during the time they are rehabbing. I’m sure they still studied but I saw both backs before they got hurt, Gore, in particular for the short time prior to the first ACL tear, was the most impressive back Miami ever had.

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