AFC North

AFC North

Speaking of which…

Speaking of which…
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And twilight falls on the AFC North…again.

 

It’s still early in the playoff chase, so there’s still plenty of football to be played.  There’s still some interesting storylines floating around, including Saints venerable quarterback Drew Brees making a convincing run for a (possible) last title.  We’re curious how long the Colts’ seeming Cinderella-type season can continue and whether they’re really this good.  There’s the ever-popular speculation about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and whether this is truly his “last ride” (he says not).  It’s tough to play favorites when you have no favorites left in the draw, so most fans of the sport will enjoy simply watching good, playoff-caliber football…if it’s out there.  Speaking of which…

 

Despite a late charge and a tiny chance at a game-winning drive, Ravens rookie-no-longer quarterback Lamar Jackson finally looked like the rookie he was against the Chargers, who picked up on several miscues and “tells” from the Ravens’ offensive line and exploited them.  Jackson’s deficiencies in the passing game haven’t been more evident than they were in this game, forcing onlookers to wonder if his flaws can be corrected in a single offseason.  The Chargers, using a defensive back-heavy lineup, sacked Jackson seven times and limited his rushing attempts drastically, holding the Ravens to 90 yards on the ground.  Given the unorthodox offensive style the Ravens have been employing for the last two months, defensive adjustments were inevitable, and the Chargers, using their first-hand knowledge of the Ravens’ schemes, certainly pivoted well.  Speaking of which…

 

The Browns have hired former offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, keeping a degree of continuity in play calling and offensive personnel.  Kitchens handled the offense and rookie-no-longer quarterback Baker Mayfield deftly after the ouster of former coordinator Todd Haley.  As a first-time head coach, the popular guess is that Kitchens will fill out his coaching staff with experienced NFL sideliners, including former Colts coach Chuck Pagano as a defensive coordinator candidate.  Mayfield, who had a hand in promoting Kitchens, will most likely have a say in his offensive coordinator as well.  Speaking of which…

 

Will the Bengals’ new coach (rumored to be Chiefs assistant Eric Bienemy) retain incumbent quarterback Andy Dalton?  Possibly not, as Dalton, 32, would incur no cap penalty should he be shown the door in 2019.  As the link notes, he’s in place for now, and it would be foolish to move on from Dalton unless a superior player at the position is unearthed.  But as it is, the Bengals cannot expect to improve under Dalton, who has long-since revealed who he is on the field, and it would appear a complete roster overhaul is in order regardless of who’s taking snaps under center.   One thing is relatively certain:  The new coach will have a lot of latitude and time to experiment, if former coach Marvin Lewis’ history is any indication.  Speaking of which…

 

Despite much fan clamoring and grousing, the Steelers do not appear inclined to release anyone else beyond linebackers coach Joey Porter and running backs coach James Saxon; in addition to replacing them, they are openly discussing adding another full-time assistant whose role has yet to be determined.   Given recent events, it’s not too far out of context to see them hiring a disciplinarian, or someone that can manage a locker room that’s had its share of recent embarrassments.

 

Enjoy the week!

AFC North

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