At long last…clarity.
The AFC North universe seems to have righted itself at last, with all-too-familiar opponents facing off in the playoffs. The Browns finishing at 7-9 should be a positive sign for long-suffering fans, as their marked progress was marred only by the obvious shortcomings of a few top draft picks. And the season overall, statistically, resulted in career achievements for many. Couple that with the fact that no AFC North team posted less than seven wins, no coaches were fired, and several reputations were established, and the future appears bright, playoffs or no.
Here’s today’s latest from around the AFC North. Enjoy.
Quarterback Joe Flacco’s verbal tirade inspired the team at halftime.
My Take: “Loquacious Joe” Flacco is clearly a man of few words, so I suppose that when he speaks, his teammates take notice, whether they want to or not. I can’t say that his one-line diatribe would have inspired me, but I’m just a lowly writer with a healthy degree of cynicism.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and head coach Mike Pettine wouldn’t publicly commit to troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel as next season’s starter.
My Take: As well they shouldn’t. Manziel has yet to demonstrate a sufficient level of maturity to function responsibly, and to simply hand him a job based on his poor showing thus far would be foolish.
Quarterback Andy Dalton remains a playoff tourist.
My Take: More than any other AFC North player, Dalton needs to play well to establish himself as a viable postseason performer. Given his latest lackluster performance, his chances of success next weekend look dubious.
If the Steelers are without running back Le’Veon Bell Saturday, the onus is on the rest of the team to contribute.
My Take: Duh. With all due respect to Ron Cook, it’s no secret that losing one of the league’s top rushers will obviously affect a team’s chances. I’d expect a possible roster move to add one more emergency back in the event that Bell is unable to go.