Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
But the Steelers aren't panicking, at least not publicly.
"It's not a situation where we're looking to tear things apart and start over," team president Art Rooney II told Pittsburgh reporters yesterday.
Rooney, though, acknowledged there will be "some tough decisions."
"I would say it's probably as big an issue as we've had to face," Rooney said. "There will probably have to be some contracts that get restructured and things like that. No question, there's a lot of work to be done."
In the half-hour state-of-the-team interview, Rooney said wide receiver Mike Wallace will be among the priorities this offseason. He becomes a restricted free agent March 13.
The Steelers will also add 3,000 seats to Heinz Field after the 2012 season.
Hensley's slant: Those "tough decisions" will likely come down to players such as nose tackle Casey Hampton ($4.8 million salary in 2012), wide receiver Hines Ward ($4 million), guard Chris Kemoeatu ($3.5 million), inside linebackers Larry Foote ($3 million) and James Farrior ($2.8 million) and cornerback Bryant McFadden ($2.5 million). If these players don't take a pay cut, they probably will be released. The good news for the Steelers is that they bring back their core with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, three young receivers (unless Wallace goes elsewhere as a restricted free agent), two top-notch pass rushers and Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.
BENGALS: Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was considered one of the front-runners for the Dolphins head coaching job earlier this week. Now he is out of the running for it, according to the Miami Herald. The search has been narrowed down to Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles, the paper reported. Hensley's slant: Based on the candidates remaining, it appears that the Dolphins want an offensive-minded coach, which eliminated Zimmer from consideration. This is bad news for Zimmer but a good development for the Bengals. While Zimmer still has a chance to get the head-coaching position with the Buccaneers, the Dolphins job was considered his best shot.
BROWNS: The Akron Beacon-Journal's Marla Ridenour was envious of the playoff teams' tight end play over the weekend. This is what Ridenour wrote: "Against Denver, the Patriots got 261 yards (200 receiving) and four touchdowns out of [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez. The Browns’ four tight ends — Ben Watson, Evan Moore, Alex Smith and rookie Jordan Cameron — totaled seven touchdowns all season. Hernandez also had a 43-yard run against the Broncos, longer than any Browns’ rush in 2011." Hensley's slant: The Browns are also trailing the rest of the division when it comes to tight ends. Cleveland was the only AFC North team not to have a tight end catch more than 50 passes. The Bengals' Jermaine Gresham (56 catches, six touchdowns), the Ravens' Ed Dickson (54 catches, five touchdowns) and the Steelers' Heath Miller (51 catches, two touchdowns) are all important pieces in the passing game.
RAVENS: I will be at the Ravens' facility where I will post blogs this afternoon. There will be a Joe Flacco column posted at some point today, and the featured blog yesterday was the Double Coverage segment.