Despite obstacles, Browns' offense finding its stride in 2-1 start

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns opened the 1989 season on fire. First, they humiliated the Pittsburgh Steelers 51-0. Then Bernie Kosar tossed three touchdowns, as Cleveland put up 38 points in a Week 2 win.

Yet not in the three decades since had the Browns scored more than 34 in back-to-back weeks -- until these past two weeks.

Despite the virtual offseason, the shortened training camp, the new offensive scheme and the disastrous season-opening performance in Baltimore, the Cleveland offense is already showing signs of unearthing its identity and finding its stride.

Against a stingy Washington Football Team defense on Sunday, the Browns endured some bumpy moments in the third quarter. But ultimately, they exploded for 17 points in the fourth on the way to the 34-20 victory, giving Cleveland 30-plus points in consecutive games for the first time in a decade.

Though the performances haven't been perfect -- and have come against two opponents unlikely to make the playoffs in Cincinnati and Washington -- the developments on the offensive side have been encouraging.

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt continue to demonstrate why they might be the best running back tandem in the league.

Chubb became the first Browns player since 1967 to put up back-to-back games of at least 100 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Hunt finished with 63 yards from scrimmage and caught a touchdown pass for the second straight game.

The two continue to be among the NFL's most lethal in producing yards after contact. But they also aren't the only reasons behind the fourth-best rushing offense in the NFL, which is averaging 170 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

Cleveland's revamped offensive line continues to be a revelation. Facing off against a Washington defensive line boasting five former first-round draft picks, the Browns allowed only seven pressures and essentially controlled the line of scrimmage. Rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. has more than held his own, while overlooked right guard Wyatt Teller has quietly emerged into a pulling mauler in the running game. The Browns remain in the top 10 in the league in both pass-block and run-block win rates.

"It says a lot about us," Chubb said, "to be able to run against a great defense like that."

The passing game has been flashing its glimpses as well.

Sunday, quarterback Baker Mayfield snapped his league-high eight-game streak of throwing an interception, though with the assistance of teammate Odell Beckham Jr. batting down an errant pass on one play. After another solid performance, Mayfield has crept up to eighth in the league in QBR, after finishing 19th there last season.

"Just doing whatever it takes to win the game," Mayfield said. "Obviously, taking care of the ball. ... Protecting that ball, taking checkdowns, playing the field position game and playing that battle and just trusting this team and this offense that we are going to chip away eventually."

Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefanski are also finding ways to get Beckham involved in key moments as well. All four of OBJ's catches Sunday, in fact, went for first downs.

Late in the third quarter with Cleveland trailing 20-17, the Browns faced third and 12. But Mayfield was able to locate Beckham on a curl route along the right hashmark which kept the drive alive. The Browns went on to score a touchdown to retake the lead for good.

"I thought he trusted his eyes for the most part," Stefanski said of Mayfield, "and the ball went where the ball was supposed to go."

Going into a road showdown with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday that has shootout potential, the Browns have plenty to feel good about. They own a winning record for the first time since 2014. Their defense is forcing turnovers. And at rates not seen in Cleveland in a long time, their offense is putting up points.