COMMENTARY | Right now is a pretty good time to be a Cleveland Browns fan.
On Thursday night, the Browns moved to 2-0 in the preseason with a 24-6 victory over the Detroit Lions. Just like in last week's win over the St. Louis Rams, the Browns rolled to an early 17-0 lead and never looked back.
The new passing offense installed by first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been better than advertised -- Cleveland quarterbacks have a cumulative quarterback rating of 123.2 through the first two games.
I realize it's only the preseason, but the job that Cleveland starters have done on both sides of football the past two weeks has to make even the most jaded supporters somewhat optimistic about the Browns' chances for success once the regular season begins. The fact is, midway through the preseason, the Browns have excelled thus far, playing with a confidence rarely seen in 2012.
There have been many outstanding individual performances as well, and these are the five Browns whose performances stood out in the win over the Lions:
Brandon Weeden, QB
For the second straight week, Weeden shredded an opposing secondary that finished last season as one of the top 15 teams in the NFL against the pass. After posting a 127.7 quarterback rating against the Rams, Weeden bettered that gaudy number in this week's game, finishing with a rating of 137.8. Against the Lions, Weeden averaged 9.8 yards per attempt on his 12 passes, a superb number in a category that truly shows how efficient a quarterback has been. A huge reason for Weeden's success has the been the protection the Browns' offensive line has given him -- he has still not been sacked during the preseason.
Josh Gordon, WR
Seeing Gordon perform the way the did against the Lions is bittersweet. His three catches for 72 yards showed once again why Gordon is one of the better young big-play receivers in the NFL, which makes it all the more painful that the Browns will have to make do without their best wideout in the first two regular-season games. Gordon's suspension won't bring the Browns' offense to a grinding halt the first couple of weeks of the season, but Cleveland's passing game will almost certainly suffer without him.
Jordan Cameron, TE
In just his second game in the new offense, Cameron is starting of reap the rewards of playing tight end in Chudzinski and Turner's system. Cameron had three catches for 42 yards against the Lions, scoring both of Cleveland's first-half touchdowns. His first touchdown was particularly impressive, as Cameron had to use all of his 6-5 frame to grab a rocket that Weeden threaded between two members of the Lions' defense. If this game is a sign of what's ahead for Cameron in 2013, this could be a breakout season for the the third-year pro.
Cleveland's Entire Defense
This may seem like a cop-out, but, seriously, the entire defense deserves recognition for their play against Detroit. Despite only getting one sack and not forcing any Detroit turnovers, the Browns' defense shut down the Lions for most of the night, holding them to just 12 first downs. Cleveland's starters held Detroit to just one first down and 41 yards of offense during its first four drives, and batted down several of Matthew Stafford's pass attempts. I realize Detroit was without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but this was still a very good all-around effort by Cleveland's defense.
Spencer Lanning, P
After splitting the punting duties against the Rams with T.J. Conley last week, Lanning worked solo as the Browns' punter against the Lions, and he excelled. Averaging 46 yards per punt against Detroit, Lanning pinned the Lions inside of their own 20-yard line three times. With Conley out of action due to a strained groin, Lanning's solid performance against the Lions could put him on the inside track to win the competition to be Cleveland's punter in 2013.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for 25 years.
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