Browns Greg Little dropped a sure TD against the Ravens. Little has had problems with drops. (US Presswrie)

The Browns played poorly in all areas Sunday against Buffalo. But every unit showed promise on the road at Baltimore, where the Ravens haven't lost since 2010. Most encouraging were the performances of several rookies and second-year players with virtually no experience heading into this season. The Browns still lost, 23-16, but there were reasons for optimism.

Offense: B

QB Brandon Weeden (25-52-320) might have thrown for 400 yards if not for five drops, including one in the end zone by WR Greg Little (4-77). RB Trent Richardson (14-47) scored the lone touchdown and added 57 yards receiving. The run blocking improved and the pass blocking yielded just one sack. Despite the absence of WRs Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and Josh Cribbs, who suffered what appears to be a concussion early, the corps showed some depth. Rookie Travis Benjamin and young Jordan Norwood contributed to what looks to be the best Browns passing attack since 2007 -- though that's not saying much.

Previous game's grade: D

Defense: B

Granted, Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw for 386 yards. That was greatly on a secondary desperately missing CB Joe Haden (suspension) because the pass rush more than held its own. Rookie defensive tackle BIlly Winn (five solo tackles, two for losses) and OLB Craig Robertson, who intercepted a Flacco pass in the end zone, performed exceptionally well. If not for Ravens WR Anquan Boldin torching CB Dimitri Patterson for 131 yards in the second half, the Browns might have won and the defense would have earned an A.

Previous game's grade: D

Special teams: C+

P Reggie Hodges has not been the same this year and it's costing the Browns field position. He's either booting line drives or shanks. But the coverage units were excellent and Benjamin, who filled in quite well for Cribbs, contributed a 40-yard sprint down the right sideline on a punt return that displayed speed the Browns badly need. And, of course, PK Phil Dawson booted three 50-yarders. It has reached a point where such achievements from Dawson come as no surprise. If the Browns actually give him enough chances to score some points this year, he will earn the Pro Bowl shot he so richly deserves.

Previous game's grade: C

Coaching: A-

Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron should be applauded for a gameplan that allowed the Browns to put consistent pressure on Flacco. The Browns have emphasized the importance of getting sacks and hurries from the front four alone, but Jauron dialed up enough blitzes from the safeties and linebackers to keep the Ravens off-balance. The offensive gameplan was fine as well, though dropped passes didn't allow the unit to carry it out very effectively. The Ravens were stacking the box to stop Richardson. If the Browns hadn't muffed five more passes, perhaps the Ravens would have dropped more defenders back in coverage and coach Pat Shurmur would have felt more comfortable calling more run plays.

Previous game's grade: C-

Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.