It's never right to feel good after a loss, but the Browns might be enjoying that dirty little pleasure this week.
For all the problems the defense encountered in a 34-27 loss to the Bengals last Sunday, there was joy in Clevelandville with the performances of quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson. In no way does it mean that both are on the way to long and happy lives in the NFL, but it also doesn't mean they are guaranteed to step in line with the long list of first-round failures.
The only worry this week is what emotional, jump-the-gun fans and some media representatives are going to do with their time. They live for labeling players as busts after only one game. When Weeden posted a 5.1 passer rating against the Eagles last week there were some that were calling for any quarterback from the team's past, whether it be Colt McCoy, Spergon Wynn or Paul McDonald.
They hadn't given up on Richardson after a 39-yard effort against the Eagles, but there were those that undoubtedly questioned the wisdom of using the third overall choice on him. Hey, a radio sports talk host has to fill up air time some way.
Weeden had a huge turnaround against the Bengals, completing 26-of-37 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. It's amazing what a quarterback can do with solid pass protection and open receivers.
With those two elements in place, a strong-armed thrower like Weeden can work the ball vertically. Weeden may very well have more bad games - that's inevitable for a rookie quarterback - but he made throws last Sunday that McCoy would rarely make.
What stood out to Shurmur was Weeden's ability to check down in his reads. His natural tendency is to look deep and let it go without concern of the consequences. He found out how effective a check down throw can be when Richardson grabbed a pass on a swing route and turned it into a 23-yard touchdown.
"Brandon did some things better, and as a coach there are still some things where he can improve," Shurmur said. "He's learning some things about how a check down can help you. We were trying to throw the ball down the field, and he checked the ball down to Richardson and we got into the end zone. He's learning some things, and I think he made progress."
Richardson said that he didn't make enough people miss against the Eagles. That changed on the 23-yard touchdown play when he made four Bengals defenders grab for nothing but air.
The best part about Richardson's performance was his ability to get 4 to 6 yards a crack on first-down carries. Even on runs when there was no clear hole he moved the pile and gave Weeden a favorable second-down situation.
It's much easier on a quarterback when he lines up with a second-and-5 instead of a second-and-9. Defenses are less likely to blitz on second-and-5, and the offense has the advantage of going with play-action.
"In my mind the first thing is get the first 5; get a first down," Richardson said. "You don't go for the big run every time. If you go for the big run every time you're going to end up fumbling or something is going to happen bad. My head was like fourth-and-5 or fourth-and-3. I got to get the first down."
The offense isn't going to put up 439 yards of offense (309 passing and 130 rushing) every game. To think that Weeden and Richardson will have highlight-reel games every week is another misconception.
But at least they made strides last week. Better yet they were able to forget about a putrid first game and concentrate solely on the next challenge.
It's called being patient, a trait not possessed by all Browns' fans.