Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Two teams are on a bye, but it's always a good time to talk AFC North football.
eric ny [via mobile]
james do you think it would make sense for the steelers o-line to switch to a zone blockin scheme since there so immobile?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I think the Steelers have steadily improved over the course of the season. Yes, they struggle against Minnesota but so does everyone else. Pittsburgh is running the ball good enough on most weeks to where I don't think they need to change too much.
What has happened to the Ravens defense?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Debbie, the Ravens have struggled to rush the passer and defend receivers. When that happens you had major issues. Every team notices that and attacks it, and that will continue to be the case until the Ravens figure out what's the problem.
Travelle, Knoxville [via mobile]
How many games do you think the titans will win
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Until they apologize for stomping the towel I'm not sure.
Ryan Gillespie (Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC)
In your opinion were the Begals that good on both sides of the ball, or are the Bears just that bad? I believe Carson is back to top form, and the O-line is a nice suprise.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
It was a combination of Chicago not showing up and Cincinnati being well-prepared to play. That's the only reasoning for a 35-point blowout in the NFL, especially between two good teams. I think the Bears have always been a little overrated. But they are not as bad as they played.
James, just a few weeks ago the Ravens were the talk of the NFL, now a few close losses and we are out of the playoff picture? What odds do you give the Ravens to make the playoffs? Thanks
James Walker (4:06 PM)
Odds? I can't give you odds, Colin, but the Ravens are definitely good enough to make it to the playoffs. All their losses have been close. This week's game against Denver will be huge for their season.
Hey James. When I played running back in college, we used to always do "The Gauntlet", ball security drill in practice, which made you protect the ball with both hands, close to the body. What has happened that so many players (especially QB's and WR's, but hello Mr. Mendenhall) are routinely carrying the ball like a loaf of fresh-baked bread? You can't really do much with the ball on the carpet.
James Walker (4:09 PM)
That's a good idea, Tom. The Steelers have been extremely careless with the football. One coach once told me (I forget which one) that "When you're carrying the football in a game the entire organization is in your hands. Act like it." The Steelers haven't been acting that way lately.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
Do you see another QB switch in the Browns' future?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
Yes. But not until sometime after the bye week, Wolf.
Will espn change their name to "ESPN THE OCHO" on thursday when Chad Ochocinco comes in for a variety of shows?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
They may have something planned, Jay. I'm not sure. I really want to see him and Skip Bayless go at it Thursday. Chad said on Sunday that he couldn't wait for that.
Hey James (love the blog), aside from a couple passes to Mike Wallace, the steelers passing game never really got off the ground. Was this a function of the Vikings playing really well or was it premature to anoint the steelers a passing team?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Give a lot of credit to Minnesota's defense. I think most people automatically assumed the Steelers would pass all over them with Winfield out. But the Vikings did a lot of 4-man rushes and still got pressure against Pittsburgh's offensive line. It was a smart game plan.
Speaking of the Bears, they have a tough 2nd half schedule. Are they going to finish the season over .500???
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Take it one week at a time, Dave. The Bears should have a easier matchup against the Browns next week. A win would help people forget what happened on Sunday.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
I think I'll take another half off this week.
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Not a good idea, TR. The Ravens made need a full day's work this week. It should be a great game.
Dan (Niagara Falls, NY)
JW, pretty certain the Clowns will be drafting in the top 3 (again) next year. The question is will they keep the pick and try and get a franchise changing player. What do you think?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
It really depends who is at the top of the draft and where the Browns land this year. I'm not particularly impressed with this year's quarterbacks, so that might hurt Cleveland. The two highly-rated safeties are terrific but I'm not big on taking that position in the top 5 either. It's going to be interesting.
needing a sure thing for my football pick this week...any suggestions on who will probably win for sure--I only need one team
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I would go Chicago over Cleveland (1) or Arizona over Carolina (2). Either pick should be safe.
Charlie (Richmond, KY)
How does the NFL scheduling system work deeper into the season? Won't they name their Sunday and Monday night games the week of? Any chance the Bengals land one of those (preferably at home!)?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Monday games cannot be "flexed," Charlie. Those dates are already in place and you can't change a team's routine and extra day of prep on short notice. But all Sunday games are subject to time changes based on what the NFL and TV networks want to air. The Bengals could be a strong contenter for some time changes.
Ed Polamalu (Pittsmore)
Why don't I ever get any attention?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
You're entering the draft this year, remember? Taylor Mays is rated higher because you play for the Miami Trojans and not a lot of scouts have come out to see you play at such an obscure school.
Have you ever seen a more pathetic attempt at a tackle than Jeff Reed trying to tackle Percy Harvin on the PR for a TD?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Brett Favre isn't a great tackler either. That form was funny looking.
Hey JW -Is an AFC North Team slotted to play overseas any time soon?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
There's not a slotted system in place. The NFL decides year to year. I haven't heard anything for the AFC North in 2010. I don't own a passport, so it may be smart to get one in the offseason just in case.
Any playoff predictions
James Walker (4:31 PM)
There will be six teams from the AFC and six teams from the NFC. Only two will advance to the Super Bowl.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Just kidding. It's a long season.
Jeffy G (Cincy)
Hey James, love the blog. Its almost the halfway point to the season. Which player from the AFC North has been the most pleasant surprise for their team so far?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
There are a lot of them. Picking one for each team I would say Mike Wallace for Pittsburgh, Kyle Cook for Cincinnati, Kelley Washington for Baltimore and Mohamed Massaquoi for Cleveland.
James i am DYING to know this. why wont greg mattison be more aggressive? clearly protecting his CBs by not rushing is hurting.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Stay up Steve. It's not that serious. It's my opinion that Mattison doesn't have a ton of confidence in his CBs right now to blitz as much as Rex Ryan used to. Often when the Ravens are in man coverage this year, they get beat or there is a penalty on the DBs.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Regarding the Cleveland Browns draft, what do you think about them trying to grab Rosenfels for a 4th rounder? You dont like the QB class this year, the Vikes could recoup their 4th rounder, and the Browns could focus on other areas.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
The Sage Rosenfels era in Cleveland for 2010? I'll pass.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Or punt, since we're talking football.
danny (college park)
James whats more likely my Ravens D returning to dominant form or me paying better attention in this class?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Seriously, Danny, listen to your professor right now. I feel like I'm contributing to poor college grades in America sometimes.
Ray Ray No not that one (PGH)
Can you get the blogisphers fixed so we can properly correspond with our AFCN brethren
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I've been in communication with the technical people over the weekend. Other than that, it's out of my hands. Apparently other division blogs are having similar issues.
whats more likely? bengals in the playoffs or me paying better attention in this class
James Walker (4:44 PM)
I think I might move my chat back to 8 p.m.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
So I am officially cheering for the Bengals to win the division now since the Browns are in disarray. GO BENGALS! (I would rather support the other Ohio team to win the crown than the other two teams.)
James Walker (4:46 PM)
That might be an interesting Thought of the Day topic for Browns fans this week. Thanks, Wolf.
Did you like my samba on Sunday?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I've seen better, Ocho. What do you have planned for Skip Thursday?
Ray (El Paso)
Who is scarier for the Ravens this Halloween Weekend: Elvis Dumervil or Brandon Marshall?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Probably Brandon Marshall. The Ravens' o-line hasn't been a problem this season. Their secondary has.
Max Luellwitz (Wisconsin)
How do you seen the bengals doing in their next two games against baltimore and pitt
James Walker (4:51 PM)
Max, I make my picks on a weekly basis, so I havne't really thought about it much. Baltimore coming to Cincy will be huge, though.
Brian (Greensboro, NC)
The Bengals o-line has been playing better an better, after the bye Smith is going to get his chance. What aspect of the offense should he help the most?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I wouldn't get the hopes up too high on Smith early. I think it's smart that he's gradually phased into the offense. Remember, he hasn't played an NFL snap and missed all of training camp. He's really behind in terms of reps and experience. I would use him as the sixth offensive lineman until he gets his feet under him.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
Would the Browns really be willing to make a decision on who plays or not, based on a contract bonus? Obviously, I'm referring to Brady Quinn and his potential bonus for taking 70% of the snaps. If he gives them the better chance to win, he should start. If it comes out that he is not playing due to the contact bonus, could the player's union step in and do something?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
John, Eric Mangini said Monday that Quinn's contract is not a factor in his decision. Whether you want to take him at his word is up for everyone else to decide.
Is there any chance Bill Cowher returns next season to coaching?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
I've heard different things. But I think he's very happy with what he's doing. But a good opening might be able to sway him.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks as always for the time. Don't forget to check the AFC North blog throughout the week for constant updates.