BEREA — The Browns hope the last images of Nick Chubb in their uniform won’t be his left knee getting destroyed and him being carted off the field in Pittsburgh.
“No one in the organization wants to see that carry in Pittsburgh be the last time he carries the ball for the Cleveland Browns,” general manager Andrew Berry said Monday in his end-of-the-season news conference. “And obviously there are things that we’ll have to work through, but that would not be our intention. We obviously will work to keep him on the team.”
Chubb, a four-time Pro Bowl running back, needed two surgeries to repair torn anterior cruciate and medical collateral ligaments and other damage in the knee after being hit by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 2. His return to the field has been estimated at some point next season.
He’s due nearly $12 million in the last year of his contract and the Browns aren’t going to pay that for a partial season coming off a serious injury. Berry seems committed to a contract restructuring that would allow Chubb to stay for a seventh season.
Berry said he entered the year respecting Chubb at a 10 on a scale of one to 10.
“It’s now a 20,” Berry said. “You would’ve never guessed that Nick was out for the season with how he operated within the building. It was like he was doing two-a-day practices for rehab, the tenacity at which he has attacked his rehab. And he did everything in his power this year to heal himself but also make a positive impact with the team.”
That included donning a Batman mask to smash a guitar in front of the crowd in the festivities before the Dec. 28 game against the Jets.
“He’s not a super talkative person, but for him to do the whole Batman thing in front of the Jets game, it’s like he wanted to do everything in his power to help the team win,” Berry said.
KEEP ’EM COMING
Defensive end Myles Garrett received another award, as he was named All-NFL by the Pro Football Writers of America for the fourth straight season — the longest streak in the league. Garrett had already been named first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl starter.
Garrett finished tied for seventh in the NFL with 14 sacks but had only one in his final seven games, including the playoff loss to the Texans.
“He played at a really high level for us down the stretch,” Berry said. “He does a really good job of managing his body. He’s very, very proactive.
“Probably the larger point for me is I know the focus is on sack numbers, but the reality of it is that really doesn’t tell the whole story or even enough of the story, to be honest. He’s the Defensive Player of the Year.”
Left guard Joel Bitonio was voted to the All-AFC team by the PFWA.
ROOM TO GROW
Coach Kevin Stefanski’s expected to win Coach of the Year for the second time in his four seasons, and Berry believes he’s only getting started.
“The way that he was able to lead and manage through challenges and adversity this year was absolutely phenomenal,” Berry said. “We have a smart, adaptable, emotionally intelligent leader who, the crazy part is, he’s not even close to his ceiling. I know that our organization is in really good hands both now and for the foreseeable future with him.”
Berry also complimented Stefanski’s play calling and said whether he keeps the responsibility will depend on whom is hired as coordinator.
“Ultimately that’s going to be his decision as he constructs a staff,” Berry said.
Stefanski and Berry are entering the final year of their five-year contracts and are expected to receive extensions.
Berry declined to answer most questions about the coaching staff changes, including what they’re looking for in a coordinator, saying the team will address them when the new staff is finalized.
He was asked specifically about the possible scenario in which Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan gets a head coaching job and wants to hire his dad, Bill, Cleveland’s offensive line coach.
According to reports Monday night, the Titans will hire Brian Callahan.
“It’s a good question. I definitely understand the interest there,” Berry said. “We obviously value Bill very highly. He’s done a great job with us the past four seasons. I probably don’t feel comfortable commenting on that until we address the coaching staff.”
Berry assessed what went wrong in the 45-14 loss to the Texans in the playoffs.
“Just as a team we picked a bad day to have a bad day against a good team and a good quarterback,” he said. “And we made a lot of errors that up until that point hadn’t been characteristic of our team, but also give Houston a ton of credit. They had a good plan, they played well and when you’re in the playoffs, the margin of error is even slimmer than what we talk about in the regular season.
“As we go into the offseason, I’m not necessarily overreacting based off of one game. We really do look at the body of work.”