BEREA -- The Browns' 6-3 win over the Buffalo Bills felt so good to coach Eric Mangini that he gave the players Monday off.
How they could have enjoyed the down time with the AFC North Division nemesis Pittsburgh Steelers up next can't be explained. The win over the Bills might have raised spirits after a 0-4 start to the season, but it didn't hide the fact that there will be many growing pains in Mangini's first year as coach.
That would include the offense, which generated just 193 yards against the Bills, including a meager 22 through the air on 2-of-17 passing by quarterback Derek Anderson. Blaming the problems on the gusty wind at Ralph Wilson Stadium wouldn't be fair. The wind had nothing to do with an estimated eight dropped passes.
"The number of drops was way too high," Mangini said. "I think wind played a part in it. Some of the throws could've been better. A couple of times guys were worried about what was going to happen after the catch."
Whether it was the wind, Anderson showing a lack of touch or stone hands by the receivers, it won't change the situation at quarterback. Anderson will start in Pittsburgh, where the Browns haven't won since 2003 and where they're 2-16 in the last 18 games there.
The receivers better enjoy two straight days off before resuming work Wednesday. Mangini didn't like what he saw of their collective performance against the Bills, and he plans to remind them of that with some extra work.
"We're going to wear out the JUGS machine and make a conscientious effort to improve in that area," Mangini said.
What little offense the Browns had came on the legs of running back Jamal Lewis, who gained 117 yards on 31 carries. Lewis appeared to be fresh after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury.
The offensive line had its best run blocking day of the season. Rookie center Alex Mack continues to improve and has caught Mangini's attention.
"Alex has made a lot of strides over the past several weeks,'" Mangini said. "He's pretty good at lining the target up and finding him. The game has slowed down for him, and it's good to see his progress. He sees where he fits and what he needs to do."
No one enjoyed seeing Lewis back in the lineup more than Anderson. The more Lewis can take control on the ground, the fewer burdens it puts on Anderson. It also helped that the defense kept the Bills out of the end zone.
"It's good (to have Lewis back)," Anderson said. "I love playing with the guy. He's so positive out there. He's always saying, 'Let's go let's go.' I'm saying, 'Hey, one play at a time.' You could tell it would be tough to throw it. They did a good job."
The Browns' path after the trip to Buffalo could hit many more bumps. There's been improvement in the last two games, but they are 1-4 and looking at consecutive games at Pittsburgh, home to Green Bay and at Chicago. It won't get easier after the bye week when Baltimore rolls into Cleveland.
Mangini can be pleased about the development of the defense, including the re-emergence of linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley was widely criticized after two off seasons following a stellar rookie season in 2006, but he's been a force this season. He had a sack against the Bills to increase his total to four, and he finished with 11 tackles (second to linebacker D'Qwell Jackson's 13).
Another positive defensive sign has been the collective solid play of oft-criticized cornerbacks Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald. Defensive lineman Corey Williams, who struggled with a shoulder injury last season, has been active the last two weeks.
Factor in the outstanding play of the special teams, and it's apparent where more work needs to be done - the offense.
TOUGH LOSS: Adam Schefter of "ESPN" reported that the season-ending shoulder injury suffered by rookie running back James Davis can be attributed to friendly fire. Schefter said that Davis, while not wearing pads during a down time in a practice, was hit by a teammate in full pads.
Mangini said the report isn't accurate, but he didn't go into details. Davis will have surgery on a torn labrum.
"If something like that happened, it would never be something sanctioned by the team," Mangini said. "I talked to the league about it, and the last thing we want to do is put somebody in position to get hurt. I feel good about our position."