AFC North Weekend Roundup

AFC North Weekend Roundup
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Slightly different format this weekend, as I’ll be bailing out of the publishing game for awhile.  Not forever, mind you, but long enough for Eagles fans to sober up, Patriots fans to stop denying controversy, Browns fans to renew their overwhelming sense of hope, and Steelers fans to renew their unrealistic sense of superiority.  I leave you all in the capable hands of Wernicke Korsakoff in the hopes that he’ll shine a beacon upon your offseason of darkness.  I expect to be contributing some things for the draft and may stop in to chat occasionally, but I’m considering this a well-earned break.  Hoping y’all do too.


That said, there’s still football news.  To wit:


Baltimore Ravens


While the Ravens appear to be focused on an offense-heavy draft, the Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec argues that the team shouldn’t ignore the defense entirely.


My Take:  Zrebiec’s point regarding secondary depth is well-taken, but one can only imagine the angst and confusion among Ravens fans if the team opts for a defensive player in the first few rounds.  The “BPA” approach is fine in theory, but, as has often been discussed in this space, obvious needs must eventually be addressed, and this offense obviously needs an influx of (not previously injured) youth and talent.  If that’s not honored by general manager Ozzie Newsome’s last draft with the team, we may see a further reduction of fan support.  Get on it, Oz, and finally find that wideout.


Cincinnati Bengals


The Bengals appear to be settled at quarterback on the field and in their books, with incumbent passer Andy Dalton in the midst of what is being termed “the best team-friendly contract” in the NFL.


My Take:  Bengals fans have considered lynching the inconsistent Dalton in recent years, and many would rather see unproven backup A.J. McCarron take over if only for the sake of change.  McCarron remains a trade bargaining chip for the team, so the general impression is that the team is sticking with Dalton for at least a year or two, unless his play becomes so unacceptable that an immediate change is warranted.  As the team hasn’t benched Dalton yet (and they’ve had reason to) and he’s not costing them much, there’s really no reason for the budget-obsessed Bengals to consider sitting him…yet.


Cleveland Browns


Dan Labbe examines the possibility of the team signing Eagles’ quarterback and recent Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who would be an upgrade over their current options.


My Take:  The problem with guys like Foles and former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is that it’s very tough to project their level of play based on their histories.  Foles has either been very good (see his rookie year and his last four starts) or very bad (every start in between).  Is it possible that he’s finally figured out the missing elements of his game?  Or is his recent success an outlier, and he’s actually the demonstrably awful QB that we saw in 2014-2016?  My suggestion would be to ignore the trade and free agent market entirely and draft (yet another) rookie to take the position.  With the first overall pick, the Browns are finally in a position to do just that; let’s hope they follow through.


Pittsburgh Steelers


Joe Starkey juxtaposes the departure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley with the sudden willingness of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to continue his playing career.


My Take:  Without first-hand knowledge, I’d say there’s a real correlation here.  Haley’s abrasiveness has been well-documented, and it was most likely a matter of time before his dismissal regardless of his track record.  How that trademark abrasiveness played with Roethlisberger is tough to determine.  It’s interesting to note that Haley’s replacement, former quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, will be running the same offensive system that Haley employed, so it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t Haley’s terminal issue.  Roethlisberger’s current status aside, they should consider drafting a “groomable” quarterback in this year’s draft, as “Big Ben” routinely misses starts due to injury – a situation that’s unlikely to improve as he ages.



With that, I’m outta here.  Stay cool.


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