In his one-day visit to Berea for Browns training camp, Albert Breer was reminded a bit of Mike Pettine's days in New York.
The NFL Network reporter saw a foundation forming that was similar to what the Jets had in back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in 2009 and 2010. It channeled what the Browns had during the first half of 2014, too, as the team continues to build around a strong defense, talented offensive line and enough support on offense to take pressure off the quarterback.
"I know they feel like they're deeper," Breer said Tuesday during an in-studio appearance on Cleveland Browns Daily. "Really, you can see kind of how they want to build the team with the way they drafted in April and the types of players they're bringing in.
"I think there's a very clear vision for the way they're going to win, and I think it's the way they won early last year. It's the way Mike Pettine saw a team win early in New York. When they got to AFC Championship games, it's not about asking a quarterback to be a superstar. It's about being a team that is progressively going to get better, and when the weather gets cold, play a type of game that's going to hold up."
When it pertains to quarterback Josh McCown, Breer said the 36-year-old veteran will be asked to play "point guard" with a wide receiving corps that doesn't necessarily have a dominant, No. 1 receiver. Through six days of camp, McCown has shown to be capable of that assignment by finding Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and others in a variety of different ways.
How it translates to the season could determine just how far the Browns go in the AFC North.
"Do you get Josh McCown from Chicago at the end when he was stepping in for Jay Cutler ... or are you going to get a Josh McCown that was in a bad situation in Tampa and wound up losing his job? So much of it revolves around that," Breer said. "You don't need him to be a superstar. You don't need him to throw for 4,200 yards. You need him to be a guy who's going to come up big in big spots and in other spots he's not going to blow the game."
There's no telling when exactly the weather turns cold in Cleveland, but it's always safe to bet on sooner rather than later. That's an important point, especially with this year's schedule, which features four consecutive games against AFC North opponents from November to early December and a Jan. 3 season finale against Pittsburgh at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns have circled these division games as the key to achieving their goals in 2015. After going 2-4 in the division in 2014, Cleveland's hoping to be better, and Breer acknowledged the obvious: It will be a tough task.
"I don't think the AFC's all that strong when you put the whole of it together but I think you could argue that if you take the top five teams in the conference, three are in the (AFC North)," Breer said. "It's going to be difficult. Can you score with Pittsburgh? Can you do anything against the Baltimore defense? Those are the types of things when you're here in camp you're looking at."
Check out the full interview by clicking on the video at the top of the page.