The Cleveland Browns offense finally looked like the collection of talent we've expected for the past year, with divebombing big plays, chain-moving grabs and bulldozing runs in Thursday night's 35-30 win over Cincinnati.
Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. finally looked in sync, combining for 74 yards on four hookups with a TD. Two of Jarvis Landry's three catches went for first downs (the other nine yards on first-and-10). And the two-headed backfield monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ran over Bengals defenders, combining for 210 rushing yards.
The parts finally matched the hype.
"We're gonna keep growing and keep getting better and I think that's the best part about this team right now," Mayfield told NFL Network after the win. "Without being able to have those preseason games or those spring practices, to have a true foundation set. We did the best we could, no matter what. I truly believe that our coaches did great in the offseason but there's nothing like game experience and so we're gonna continue to get better."
Thursday's offense looked like what we expected under new coach Kevin Stefanski, and not at all what we saw Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. Mayfield came out with two straight rollouts to start the contest, connecting on both, to get in a groove. The use of play-action to open up the passing game is a Stefanski staple and worked wonders for Mayfield this week.
"We just want to keep growing as an offense. I hope this is not the ceiling," Stefanski said after his first career win as a head coach.
When Chubb and Hunt are rolling like Thursday night, there is no better tandem in the NFL, and it completely opens up the offense, pulling defenders into the box and giving OBJ and Landry one-on-one matchups to exploit.
It wasn't all perfect, as Mayfield's fourth-quarter interception opened the door for Cincy to keep it close. It was the QB's eighth straight game with an INT, the longest active streak in the NFL (the next closest players are Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson at four).
Going from playing Baltimore to Cincinnati is a swing that showed us both sides of the Cleveland coin. From looking like a bottom-three team to one that has the combination to make noise. Stefanski's team is likely somewhere in the middle. He's just looking to build on Thursday's win and continue to improve as the weeks wear on.
"We don't ride the wave. We just show up and play. We're going to look at the tape and then, guess what, we're moving on to Washington," Stefanski said after the win, via 92.3 The Fan.