The AFC North Afternoon Buzz

The AFC North Afternoon Buzz
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Will more than one of these players start for an AFC North team in 2015?

In the latest AFC North news, the Browns are in turmoil, and the media had jumped off the Bengals bandwagon after a three year run. Outside of Ohio, the Steelers may have to start the season Bell-less, and things are relatively boring in Baltimore.

Here’s today’s buzz heading into the weekend. Enjoy.

Cleveland Browns

At least the LeBron led Cavs have lessened the blow for Cleveland fans with 12 straight wins. As for the Browns, the last two tumultuous weeks in can be summed up in this article.

My Take: Regarding the four Browns’ story lines, I have given my take on Josh Gordon here when the news broke two weeks ago. On textgate, there isn’t enough information on what was said to whom and where they were in relation to the field. All I know is that the NFL quickly and happily brushed another potential scandal under the rug to pursue this investigation, whether its major or minor. Regarding Manziel, I completely disagree with the author when she states: “It seemed like he genuinely wanted to do the right thing, but couldn’t help himself”. He does what he wants to do and has stated as such over the past two years. In my opinion, Manziel was talked into rehab either by his family, the Browns, or his agent (or a combination) as his only shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. He is like a Rob Gronkowski, but unfortunately plays a position that requires a brain and not just physical tools. The author’s 4th point is what should be the major concern to Browns fans. Whether its a serious issue or just perception, the Browns organization has to right the ship starting at the top if they want a winning atmosphere and to become a desired place for current players and free agents.

Baltimore Ravens

In a slow news week regarding the Ravens and current players (looking at you, Terrence Cody), the Ravens have additional cuts that need to be made in order to create enough cap space for 2015. One suggestion is Jacoby Jones.

My take: I have been extremely critical of Jacoby throughout the season, and for good reason. He seemed disinterested as a wide receiver and a punt returner letting many catchable balls drop. On occasion he would break a nice kick return, and he does alter a kickers/punters approach. In a perfect world, cutting would make perfect sense. Unfortunately we live in a salary cap world, and he would cost the team $2.6M in dead money (for a net cap gain of $750K in 2015) if cut before June 1st, or they could cut him after June 1st and be on the hook for $875K for each of the next three years. Using cap math, the Ravens would be hard pressed to find a reputable kickoff specialist for $750K, therefore it would be worth keeping him on the roster for another year.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have enjoyed three solid years in a row, have a balanced offensive attack, and talent throughout the roster. The team had been projected to win the AFC North each of the last three years by many, and some had them going to and winning the Super Bowl. This year the honeymoon has finally ended,and the Bengals on most accounts are viewed as third best in the North, and out of the NFL’s top 10. (I’d offer one of the dozen links, but just pick your poison).

My Take: The Bengals still have the talent but can’t seem to get over the mental hump. They have beaten Rodgers, Manning, Brady, and Brees in the regular season over the past two seasons. Its a matter of getting someone in there to change the culture when the pressure is on. Unfortunately the Bengals seem to be against change at all levels, and will be stuck in this state unless these current players and coaches figure it out. For this reason, I agree with the Bengals’ downgrade.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell agrees to enter a drug program, and faces a possible suspension.

My Take: It’s apparent that Bell is a first time offender in that he passed drug tests administered by the NFL because he wasn’t suspended last season. But as we have seen all too often, public actions are taken much more seriously than events or investigations that can be controlled by the NFL’s spin machine. Bell will most likely receive two games. The NFL may be more lenient with Marijuana these days, but a DUI is a another matter that should hold more weight.

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