Accepting positives in a loss

Not every team in the NFL walks out of a game somewhat pleased with a 23-17 loss.

Most teams, in fact, would be pretty steamed at losing.

But the Cleveland Browns are not most teams. They’ve won 26 games since 2008, and they’ve been searching for a quarterback since the days of the first Colonial Convention (Robert Treat Paine recommended Donovan McNabb over Tim Couch).

This season, the Browns labored through four games with Brandon Weeden, whose struggles have been well documented. But appreciating how much his struggles held the offense back does not become apparent until another quarterback plays.

Brian Hoyer brought life to the offense with his quick decisions and throws, and his two wins.

Then he got hurt.

Sunday it was Jason Campbell's turn. He struggled early, but hung in against a very good defense and finished with two touchdowns, 293 yards and a rating over 100.

The down side is that Campbell did little when given four chances to take the lead in the second half, but the up side is that he played efficiently and didn’t throw interceptions.

For the Browns this is a mini-victory.

Because the bar is just that low.

It’s that low because there has been so little success as a team, and so little consistency at the most important position on the team.

Campbell gives some hope for the second half of the season. But even this should be tempered. Campbell has played very little the past two seasons, and a lot of teams see him as a backup, as a guy who can play well but doesn’t get the win -- as his 31-41 record as a starter indicates.

The Browns face the Ravens, Bengals and Steelers in the next three games -- with the games against the Ravens and Steelers at home. All are in the AFC North.

They head to the second half with a 3-5 record, which is about where most thought they’d be. If they find a way to beat the Ravens, a team they usually play well, they’d be 4-5 heading to the bye, which is probably ahead of where most thought they’d be.

For the Browns, that’s a positive.