Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said he wants to keep improving his team's offense but not at the expense of his traditionally tough defense.
“We want to have a better offense, but if you flip the switch too quick, then you’re giving up 27 points per game,” Bisciotti said, via the team's website. “So, I’m not going to be trading Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb for [Cardinals wide receiver Larry] Fitzgerald because that’s the quickest way to get there.”
Baltimore's defense finished third in fewest points allowed for a third straight season. In the AFC Championship Game loss at New England, the Ravens limited Tom Brady to 239 yards passing and no touchdowns and intercepted him twice.
“What our defense did to Tom Brady is something that I want my defense to do to the Tom Bradys and the [Ben] Roethlisbergers of the world going forward, forever,” Bisciotti said.
Hensley's slant: Bisciotti would have to be disappointed if his offense isn't consistently a top-10 one after the investment that he has made and will make. The Ravens signed two Pro Bowl players last year in guard Marshal Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach. The next step is reaching long-term deals with quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice. Finishing 15th in offense won't cut it for Baltimore next year.
BENGALS: A day after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, former Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was back in Cincinnati to face the charge of driving with a suspended license and a window tint violation, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. He pleaded guilty Monday to the reduced charge of failure to display a drivers license and was fined a total of $304. “I guess I would have had to issue a larger fine if you would have won last night,” Municipal Court Judge Russell Mock said. Hensley's slant: Ochocinco's quiet Super Bowl (one catch for 21 yards) ended a disappointing 2011 season for him. He went from catching 67 passes for the Bengals in 2010 to catching 15 in the regular season for New England. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Ochocinco, who is expected to get cut because he's scheduled to make $3 million in 2012.
BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Bud Shaw said the Browns have never been in a better position to find a quarterback. The reason is the Cleveland brain trust of team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress, who bring years of quarterback evaluation and development. "If this group can't make the right call, then you might as well give up, wait for Tim Tebow to become a free agent and put your hopes in the option offense and a higher power," Shaw wrote. Hensley's slant: We'll find out in the very near future whether this group can work their quarterback magic in Cleveland. This year should be a key decision at that position for the Browns, who can draft one (like Robert Griffin III), sign one (like Matt Flynn) or stick with Colt McCoy. The one who would provide the most immediate success is Flynn.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook believes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is great for the NFL even though the Steelers disagree. "It's fair to say the Steelers didn't celebrate Goodell's extension," Cook wrote. "[James] Harrison and other Steelers long have complained that Goodell is power hungry and has too much say in the discipline for both on- and off-field discretions. They voted against the new CBA, the only one of the 32 teams to do so. Hensley's slant: Goodell rules with a heavy hand (too heavy at times) especially when it comes to fines and discipline. But everything he has done is to protect the name and the image of the NFL. If we continue to see the high quality of play on the field -- like this year's playoffs -- everyone will remain happy.