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The Browns offense looked a lot better without Hue Jackson and Todd Haley

It looked like they had a real NFL offense, finally.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

No, the Browns didn’t win this week. In fact, they didn’t get all that close. But they did operate a little differently this week without the recently fired Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens was able to get the offense going after it had been stagnant for a few weeks.

Cleveland lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 37-21. And while the Browns did drop their fourth straight game, not everything was a complete disaster for them this week — especially in the first half.

For instance, the Browns averaged 5.5 yards per play in this game after averaging 4.9 yards per play through Week 8. Baby steps.

Here’s how Freddie Kitchens helped the Browns offense get back on track.

Duke Johnson was a focal point of the offense today

Coming into the game against the Chiefs, Duke Johnson was averaging 3.6 targets per game. He had 29 targets on the season and one of the first things new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens said he was going to do was “get the ball to Duke 45 times.”

Obviously Duke Johnson didn’t get the ball 45 times, but he did get a season high for targets. Johnson caught all nine of the passes throw his way for 78 yards and two touchdowns. One of his best plays of the day was a swing pass he caught out of backfield. He made a Chiefs defender miss in the open field before he dashed in for a touchdown.

On his second touchdown, Duke Johnson lined up as a wide receiver. He ran a quick slant route behind another Browns’ receiver and caught it for the easy score. The game was out of reach by this point, but it was good to see the Browns get their best offensive playmaker involved in the game.

Duke Johnson’s presence helped Baker Mayfield get into a groove as well, even if it wasn’t enough to pull out the win.

Baker Mayfield had his best game in weeks

In the three games prior to the Browns’ loss against the Chiefs, Baker Mayfield was averaging just 5.5 yards per pass attempt — the league average is currently 7.5 yards per attempt.

He was finally able to have a performance that was closer to average. Mayfield threw for 297 yards on 42 attempts, 7.1 yards per attempt. He was quick and decisive with the football yet again. He looked more like the Mayfield we saw earlier in the season than the one we’ve seen over the past month.

David Njoku almost dropped this pass, but look how quickly Mayfield decides to throw the ball to him.

Part of the reason that Mayfield was able to play better this week was because the Browns’ offensive line was able to hold strong for the first time in weeks.

The Browns only gave up two sacks!

Cleveland had given up 17 sacks in the four games before this one (4.3 per game), but they allowed just two sacks against the Chiefs. One of them wasn’t even completely on the offensive line — the Browns had a blocking miscommunication between David Njoku and Greg Robinson. A hilarious part of that play is Njoku and Robinson arguing who was wrong while Mayfield is being sacked.

Run blocking wasn’t as successful for the Browns, giving up five tackles in the backfield on just 25 attempts, but it was, overall, a better day for the offensive line. They kept their young quarterback upright, for the most part, after he had been taking a beating for the past month.

The Browns’ offensive performance wasn’t enough to win, but they looked like a real NFL offense for the first time in weeks. It remains to be seen if that’s going to be a trend that continues or if they were just able to take advantage of a shaky Chiefs defense.

Still, the fact that the Browns got Duke Johnson involved in the game, kept Baker Mayfield off the ground, and saw flashes of the good Baker Mayfield should gives Browns fans hope that the future isn’t all bleak for this team.

Hey, at the very least they’re on track for another top 10 pick.