Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Browns owner Randy Learner stressed that he does care about the team despite a reputation of being an "absentee owner."
"I do care. Of course I care," Lerner told WTAM-AM radio in Cleveland, via The Chronicle-Telegram. "I don't know ways of showing you care are clear to me other than to provide support and show up. It sickens me when we lose games. It sickens me when we have a season like we’ve just had."
Lerner believes president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert are the right men to guide the Browns into the playoffs.
“It’s not a business where you’re going to get time,” Lerner said. “But we’re not going to get anywhere if you keep turning this thing over. Mike Holmgren is as honorable and committed a football leader as I’ve been around.”
Hensley's slant: Lerner has repeatedly shown that he cares when he has fired coaches and general managers in search of the winning combination. If he didn't care, he would keep the status quo so he doesn't have to pay ex-members of the staff even after they leave. It's not a question of whether he cares or not. It's a question of whether he'll get the right people in place.
BENGALS: Mike Zimmer is now on the radar of the Indianapolis Colts, who have asked for permission to speak to the Bengals defensive coordinator about their head-coaching position, according to ESPN and the Indianapolis Star. It's been a busy month for Zimmer, who remains in the running for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coaching job but was eliminated from consideration for the Miami Dolphins' opening. Hensley's slant: It's hard to gauge the Colts' interest in Zimmer because it's so early in their search process. Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray are also expected to interview with the Colts. It's still a good sign that teams are interested in speaking to Zimmer. He just has to wonder whether getting turned down by multiple teams this year would hurt his stock going forward.
STEELERS: A decision on offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is expected soon, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The paper reported this week that Arians might not return to the team. If Arians is gone, the Steelers are expected to promote from within. According to the Post-Gazette, running backs coach Kirby Wilson was Arians' likely successor, but his health, after suffering severe burns over 45 percent of his body in a fire Jan. 6 at his home, "precludes that possibility." Hensley's slant: Why shouldn't the Steelers promote from within? It's been a successful formula for the Steelers to maintain some continuity at offensive coordinator. This has worked with Tom Moore, Chan Gailey, Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt and Arians.
RAVENS: There will be continued coverage of the team today heading into the AFC Championship Game, from the prediction blog to a column on Ed Reed to the Final Word blog.