Jets quarterback Josh McCown will return to Cleveland with fond memories.
"My memory will always be of Cleveland, just the passion that the fans have," said McCown, who spent the past two seasons with the Browns. "Except for this coming weekend, I really hope and believe that there will be success there one day.
"As much as people don't want to hear it, I think they are in a different kind of building process that's going to take some time, but I really enjoyed my time there, enjoyed the people and my teammates and the guys I got to play with … there's a ton of good people in that building and so, I think that is what I will appreciate and remember the most."
McCown, who started 11 games (including three last year) in that span, will face off against his former team for the first time since joining New York this past offseason. The 38-year-old has had success thus far, guiding a new-look Jets team to an unexpected 2-2 record.
But as the veteran prepares for a road trip back to FirstEnergy Stadium, McCown has taken notice of rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, whom he said has been impressive through the first month of the season.
"A ton of respect for him. I know he's in good hands with coach (Hue) Jackson. He has a terrific skill set, just having seen a few plays here and there on some crossover tape, really think he has tremendous upside," McCown said.
McCown, who's also faced plenty of adversity in his 15-year career, offered the youngster from Notre Dame some advice as Kizer continues to grow and learn through ups and downs.
"Whether it's just in the play, in his play itself and just finding the small victories where you can grow and continue to build confidence as a young player because it's hard if you are in a rebuilding mode and you have to play as a young player," McCown said, referencing Cleveland's young, new-look roster.
"As a quarterback, sometimes you can feel attached to anything that doesn't go right and you have to remember that you are your own entity as far as just trying to grow and get better as a player. I think that's the main focus for him. I know (quarterbacks) coach (David) Lee and coach Jackson do a good job with him and I really think he has shown a lot of promise, so hopefully he continues to grow and can become the guy there."
McCown, who earned the respect of his teammates both on and off the field, was also complimentary of Jackson, whom he grew close to last season before parting ways with the club.
McCown said Jackson — who on Monday took ownership of the Browns' disappointing 0-4 start — was a central force in keeping the Browns together amid a painful 1-15 season in 2016. McCown said sees a brighter future for Jackson and Cleveland.
"I have so much respect for Hue because of that and because of his work ethic and his drive and just how he approaches every day in the midst of this," he said, "and so, like I said, every weekend but this weekend I will continue to root for him and root for that group because I really, really want to see them be successful."