Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:01 PM)
Ok everyone, let's get started. The AFC North was 2-2 over the weekend, so let's see what's on people's minds.
Jon V. (Cleveland, OH)
The Browns won, but DA still barely completed 50% of his pass attempts. He needs to get this closer to 65% or fear the beginning of Quinn's shot, right?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
It's not about completion percentages for Anderson. It's more about wins and losses. A lot of people don't seem to realize that the Browns (and thus Anderson) has won 3 of their last 4 games. He will continue to be the starting QB at that clip.
Raymond: College Park, MD
Hey James! I'm not far from Hyattsville! The Ravens have had two tough losses against great opponents this year (Steelers and Titans). Do you think the Ravens have what it takes to win against stiff NFC East competition in the second half of the season?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Raymond, good to hear from you in CP as we used to call it. It's going to be tough for any AFC North team to run through the NFC East. The Steelers are the class of the division and they're 0-2. The Ravens are built to compete, especially defensivley, but I don't see them going better than 2-2 against the NFC East.
JJ Walker (Good Times)
This chat is DYNO-MITE!!!
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Hey JJ, we just got started. It only gets better, my friend.
Brian (Dallas, TX)
I saw a poll on the Cleveland Browns website asking how many wins the Browns need in November to have meaningful games in December. The majority said 4 out of 5. I lean towards all 5 because they have Tennessee, Philly, Cincy, and Pittsburgh in December which based on how they've been playing won't be easy, your thoughts?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Wow. Optimism is running very high in Cleveland right now. The Browns' schedule does let up somewhat in November because they have a lot of home games in that stretch. But Cleveland is as unpredictable a team as there is in the NFL this year. So I wouldn't be surprise if they got hot or fell flat.
James, you'd make 3/3 in my quest to ask every blogger by week's end...at the midway point...Who plays in the Super Bowl?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Make it 4 for 4, Kev. I'm going Steelers vs. Giants. I wrote that last week leading into Sunday's game.
Is Shaun Rogers the best free agent signing the Browns have made since returning to the league? At the very least he's the best defensive player (you could make an argument for Jamal Lewis being the best). He was an absolute animal on Sunday.
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Through seven games he could very well be. Jamal Lewis was consistent through all 16 games last year, so you have to consider him. But Rogers is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL when he wants to be. And right now he's motivated.
Titans Fan (FL)
Ther AFC South is not the division it was last year but the right team is at the top this year(Titans)..... so the AFC north will have to come to us this year....what do you think about Pitt and Titans in the AFC championship?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I think Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee is a very good possibility for the AFC title game.
David Fairborn, OH
While I was watching the Texans/Bengals game, I ended up cheering for Andre Johnson instead of the Bengals because he's on my fantasy team. Does that make me a bad Bengals fan? Or do I get a free pass this season?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
A lot of fans run into this quandary. I always say it's more important to support your real team over your fantasy team.
Holly Bridges, San Diego, CA
Hey, from your picture you appear to be a good-looking guy...but how did you get a job on ESPN.com when you only covered a couple of elementary-school football teams? They must have paid you real good to sit out in the freezing cold and watch those teams get clobbered by my Steelers.
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Thanks for the compliment Holly. (That was a compliment, right?) Media members actually sit in the press box inside during games. I still had to watch a lot of bad football over the years though. But it's still fun and games.
Are both of the following guarantees? Marvin Lewis' firing and Chad getting traded?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Actually neither are guarantees, Kev. I get the sense Marvin Lewis has a chance to be back, especially with the Carson Palmer situation providing a crutch. Chad I think will get traded, but big trades are hard to come by in the NFL.
Jay (Burke, VA)
Where's the love for Joe Flacco? A 70-yard TD pass, a 12-yard TD run (where he changed the play on his own), and a 43-yard reception. This kid is going to be special.
James Walker (4:16 PM)
We've given Bazooka Joe a lot of great press in the AFC North blog, especially during his 2-0 start. If he keeps winning that will continue.
Efrain (Bayonne NJ)
Was the Palmer crutch comment a pun?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
No it wasn't. I don't understand. Carson Palmer has an elbow injury.
Nick V (Cincinnati)
James, not much to say about the Bungle in the Jungle (Radio stations have been playing the Jethro Tull song in honor of our stinking, as well as billboards that say "Where Dey?") but there is some good young talent here. Any thoughts?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Hey Nick, you're a regular in our AFC North community. I'm happy you stopped by. I'm not impressed with the young talent the Bengals have. They drafted 10 players this year and very few of them have seen playing time. I like the secondary, but they haven't played as well as I thought either. They have some major questions about the direction they're heading in.
Eric (Sioux City)
The Bengals oline has been bad this year. Will they cut Levi and let Andrews walk?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Both are possible. Levi makes a decent amoung of money and Andrews may command a decent amount. Similar to what I said earlier, Cincinnati has some major questions this offseason.
DA hasnt thrown a pick in the last 3 games, do you think he's finally making good decisions or not forcing the ball for fear of being benched?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Anderson is the type of player that can't carry his team, ala Brady, Manning and some others. He's only as consistent as his supporting cast, and now that the people around him aren't dropping passes or missing assignments, he's playing better. I've said all along during their 0-3 start, that everything shouldn't be put on the QB.
Chris (Salisbury, MD)
What do you think of the Baltimore/Cleveland match up this weekend? With the Ravens not allowing anyone to run on them, how much of a threat really is Cleveland when they have to depend on Derek Anderson?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I think it's a great matchup. Baltimore physically beat Cleveland up in its first meeting and the Ravens will try to do it again on both sides of the ball. Home field is going to play a factor in this, but I'm not into picking a winner. We have a lot of people on our site that already do that, so look for it later in the week.
The fact is that the Browns have a playoff caliber roster. That, and not DA, is why they have won 3 of 4. In their four losses DA's ratting has been 74, 44.5, 22.9, and 57.9. If we had almost any other QB in football we'd be 5-2.
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Keith, no blame for Braylon's drops? No blame for the right side of the o-line? No blame for a defense that couldn't stop the run until last week? It's too easy to put it all on the quarterback.
Harrison (Baltimore, MD)
What do you think the Ravens need to do to prove to everyone that they are for real, and belong among the AFC elite?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Beating Cleveland on the road Sunday would be a good step. Then Baltimore has to prove losing its bye won't catch up to the team in the month of November. The Ravens are in good shape right now, all things considered.
This is my first time on this chat. I was in Iraq last year for a dismal year and it feels GREAT to be home on the east coast for this year. Sure enough, the Ravens have given me PLENTY to be hopeful for. If our offense led by Flacco and featuring Troy Smith continues with this surge of potent playing, how soon do you think we'll start talking 'playoffs?"
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Welcome home Joe, and I'm glad the Ravens have given you reason to cheer. People were already talking playoffs in Baltimore after a 2-0 start. Now the Ravens are 4-3, people are talking about it again. I think it's wise to wait until December, but that's just me.
Jon (Elyria, OH)
James, how much is Romeo to blame for the lack of discipline evidenced by all the dropped passes, stupid penalites, poor time management, etc that we've seen this season?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Romeo has to shoulder the blame for all of those things, except the drops. His clock management and decision making at times has been baffling. I've seen it for four seasons. Penalty-wise, that's split between the player and the coach.
Nick (New Jersey)
How do you think Clinton Portis will do against that tough Pitt D.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Great question, Nick. We're going to evaulate that later in the week. The Steelers favor big backs like Brandon Jacobs and Jamal Lewis because they can easily match their physicality. Portis is more of a slasher that can give the Steelers some trouble.
Paras (Baltimore, MD)
James, I don't think it's the 4 wins that is making Ravens fans talk playoffs...it's the 2 of the three losses. The Pittsburgh game they gave away and same with the Tennesse game with the help of the refs. This 4-3 had the potential to be 6-1. That's why we are excited.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Baltimore fans have reason to be excited. But truthfully, every team in the NFL is a touchdown away from being two wins better than its record. That's just how the league's parody system is built. The playoff caliber teams will continue to win the close games in Nov. and Dec.
jason(sugar hill GA)
Hey James, love the blog. So regarding the decision to make James Harrison the spot duty long snapper, why didn't they go with Hartwig? Is it really THAT big a difference? I mean Hartwig can snap in the shotgun, so why wouldn't he have the ability to snap it a little bit farther?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
From what I'm told by respected football people, there is a pretty significant difference between a center-to-QB snap and a long snap to the punter. That's why you don't see many centers doing it around the league. If it was so easy, no team would have a "long snapper." Yet all 32 teams do for that specific reason.
Cedric Benson hasn't looked bad running behind the Bengals subpar line. He's still only 25 - is it possible he becomes their #1 back this year and the foreseeable future?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I just don't see it, Jonathon. Benson is running decent and he's still young. But he's only the feature back because he is on the NFL's worst team.
Jamie (Dallas, TX)
Hi James. I was wondering if you heard anything about if the NFL is going to displine Santonio Holmes. Also do you think Coach Tomlison/ Steelers organization was right to 'bench' Holmes for the game this past weekend?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
No word from the league, yet Jamie. The team can deactivate a player if they see fit. I didn't see anything wrong with it in this particular case.
Edwin (Puerto Rico, PR)
would any team of AFC North represent.. in the superbowl?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Hey Edwin. A Pittsburgh-Giants Super Bowl is my pick right now at the midpoint of the season.
It's not even fair though, cause we're like 9 TD's away from being 3-4 right now!
James Walker (4:46 PM)
can big ben bounce back against the skins?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Ben Roethlisberger usually bounces back from bad games. The Redskins' scheme is interesting though, because they play a lot of cover 1 and pressure the quarterback. We all saw what pressure did to Pittsburgh last week.
Speaking of the Browns right side do you have any insight into Ryan Tuckers right knee? and when will he be back?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Ryan Tucker is hurting right now. He just came back from a hip injury and now his knee is banged up also. The Browns haven't provided a timeline, but I don't anticipate a return this week.
Nick V (Cincinnati)
James, quick question before 5, can the Bengals snag Beanie Wells in April?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Nick, they'll probably have one of the top 2 picks so they can pretty much snag anyone they want. My guess is they go with the best RB.
Alex, Los Angeles, CA
Do you think we'll see more trickery from the Ravens in the upcoming games, especially against the Browns nest week? They have been a lot more fun to watch recently...
James Walker (4:54 PM)
The Ravens will continue to expand, especially now that Troy Smith is healthy enough to play. Baltimore isn't an offensive powerhouse, but they do have a great offensive mind in Cam Cameron. He will try to get the best out of what he has, and that should include a little smoke and mirrors.
Do you have any word on how contract negotiations between Sean Jones and the Browns are going?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
The Browns aren't negotiating with anyone right now, from what I'm hearing. They gave a lot of people new deals in the offseason and want to see how this year plays out before they start doling out new money.
Eric (Sioux City)
Will Ohio and Missouri teams have 4 of the top 5 picks next april?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
It's looking like a very good possibility.
Titans Fan (FL)
Do you think Jeff Fisher should go after a guy like Chad Johnson? Is he worth a first round pick?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
I don't see Tennessee as a good fit for Ocho Cinco. The Titans are a no-nonsense team. Plus a first-round pick is too much right now for a WR that is coming off ankle surgery and one of the worst seasons of his career.
James Walker (5:02 PM)
Hey guys, thanks for everything. Check me out at 8:15 tonight on ESPNews for the Blogger Blitz and don't forget to always check out the AFC North blog daily. -JW