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. Are we ready for another AFC North chat? Let's get started.
JW, is Holmgren serious about the Brown's job or is he just trying to force Seattle into offering him a deal? If he's serious, when do you think something will come out of Berea?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I figured we'd get to the Mike Holmgren question first. There is a lot of information flying around right now. But what I'm hearing is he would prefer Seattle but doesn't know if he can land that job. That's not to say he won't work in Cleveland, but if both teams' offers are the same, the feeling I get is Holmgren would choose Seattle. But it looks like the Cleveland job might be his for the taking soon if he wants it.
Simon (Manchester, UK)
JDub, howdy from across the Pond...any chance we see an AFC North team (preferably my Bengals) at one of the two NFL games in the UK next year? Have you heard any rumours, surely such a money maker has Mike Brown written all over it? Would be a nice trip for you too!
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Great question, Simon. I have not heard anything as it pertains to the AFC North. But I think the Steelers, with their wide fan base, would be an ideal candidate to play overseas. The AFC North has a lot of small-market teams without a ton of big names. But if I had to pick one team to be selected first, it would probably be the Steelers.
Out of all the wildcard teams the ravens have the easiest road left. No pittsburgh won't be a easy game but they are not the same team. Out of the teams left in the race who do you think will win the last spots.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
I think Denver gets in, April. But after that it's a toss up. Baltimore has the easiest schedule, but beware of that Pittsburgh game. The Steelers are playing awful right now, but records, etc. usually do not matter in that rivalry.
ray (canton ga.)
STEELERS ARE STILL # 1 TO ME 6 TIMES !!!!!!!1DOES ANY ONE ELSE HAVE THAT MANY??????????????????
James Walker (4:07 PM)
No. The Steelers are the only team, Ray. Your team can't win every year.
Bryan (Atlanta, Ga)
J-Dub,What do YOU think the trouble with Cincinnati's pass game is? It's so frustrating seeing them struggle when just a few years ago they were one of the top passing offenses in the league.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
It's a few issues that I see, Bryan. The biggest, in my opinion, is the offense line. It's great at run blocking but really struggles to pass protect. It's hard to throw deep if you can't get five or six seconds in the pocket when needed. Also, I think Laveranues Coles has really slowed in the past month. His inability to get open as a starter hurts the passing game. There are a couple more issues, but I don't want to go too deep into it.
**NON-AFC NORTH QUESTION** James, where does Incognito land now that the Rams have released him? I know a team that can use all the o-line help they can get...
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I don't see him landing in this division. But you're right, teams always need starting-caliber lineman. I think playoff contenders will make their pitch, but it's too early to start naming teams.
Zach (Baltimore MD)
Hey james, thanks for all the great coverage. Hopefully there will be two teams for you to follow in the playoffs. After Troy Smith's crisp showing in reserve play on sunday, do you think Cam Cameron should be trying the Suggs package or is it too late in the season to implement offensive gameplan we havent used all year?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
It's never too late to bring back the "Suggs Package." I was told by the Ravens' staff this summer that Troy Smith can run that package with ease. I called for this a couple weeks ago in the blog, but the Ravens just haven't seen the need to put it in the game plan. Maybe they're waiting for the right opponent.
what do you see the Browns doing with Derek Anderson in the offseason? can they even get anything for him at this point?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I anticipate Derek Anderson being released in the offseason. He is due a roster bonus in March and his salary inflates to about $7 million. The only other option is to ask him to take a sizable pay cut. But my hunch is he will be let go by the Browns.
When do you see Troy polomalu coming back from his injury?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
I think Troy is going to wait it out to see if there is enough reason to risk coming back. The Steelers are probably out of it, but there may be a chance if they win the next two games with some help that the final game could mean something. If not, the team would be smart to rest Troy for next year.
ShoNuff (The Queen City)
Please Tell Me Bob Bratkowski Play Calling is being Questioned...Help me out Here.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I think this year every offensive coordinator in the division's play-calling is being questioned. Tough gig.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Maybe I should rank the OCs in the blog this week. That would be fun.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I would like to see it, and I think it was being considered during Baltimore's stretch of struggling in the red zone. But the Ravens have been improving in that area. So I'm not sure if that idea will ever become a reality.
whats the word on David Veikune? The Browns defense has been decimated with injuries and i have yet to see our second rounder on the field. wouldnt't it been in the best interest of the Browns and Eric Mangini to see this guy in action
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Veikune is not developing on defense as fast as the Browns would like, and he doesn't offer much on special teams. So there is not a place for him, even on the Browns. I'm kind of surprised how the team can take guys off the street and play them in the next game. Yet, Veikune has been in the system since training camp and can't see the field.
I think the ravens should stick to a 2 to 1 run pass ratio...your thoughts?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Baltimore is 4-0 this year when Joe Flacco has fewer than 30 attempts. I think the Ravens should pay attention to that stat.
Rick (Orange County, CA)
Charger fan here. How do you think J. Joseph and Leon Hall will match-up against V-Jax? Thanks.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
That's a great matchup. Hall and Joseph, like most corners, don't have the size to compete with San Diego's receivers. But they are excellent at sticking to receivers and breaking on the ball. Joseph did a pretty good job on Sidney Rice in Minnesota last week, and Jackson is somewhat similar to him.
Joe (Alexandria, VA)
Do you see Evan Moore getting more targets the next few games? He seems to be clicking with B Quinn.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Brady Quinn desperately needs a pass-catching tight end, because that fits his style of play. Moore seems to be the best of the lot for Cleveland right now, so he is getting playing time. But in the offseason, I think the tight-end position should be something the Browns improve if Quinn is their QB in 2010.
James (college park)
Hey, James! Awesome name! And I love reading your blog! If the Ravens get into the playoffs, who do you see having more potential getting farther in the playoffs, Ravens or Bengals?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Same to you, James. I want to see how both teams finish these last three games. If the Ravens are in, obviously they're on a four-game winning streak. The Bengals may or may not be "backing in." We don't know yet. But the biggest thing will probably be the matchup. There are playoff teams I think Cincinnati can beat and others it might struggle against. Same for Baltimore.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
That's another future blog to write: Who would be good/bad matchups for the Bengals in the playoffs? Thanks for these ideas, everyone.
do you think it would be a good time for the bengals to activate jerome simpson? i feel like he is the only deep threat on the roster and at the very least he can run go routes to stretch the d.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I know some people have been calling for Simpson in Cincinnati. But, to be honest, nearly every time I've seen him, he doesn't look ready. I'm sure the coaching staff is seeing the same thing, which is why he hasn't been active. Unless something has changed recently, I still think he has a long way to go.
Tom (Byron, IL)
If Mike Holmgren takes a job in Cleveland, do you believe that the browns will switch to the 4-3 Defense or will they remain in a 3-4 scheme?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
It depends on Cleveland's head coach. If Eric Mangini remains in Cleveland, then the team would probably stick to a 3-4, because that's what he believes in. If Holmgren is hired and decides he wants a new coach, then the scheme could change, depending on the hire.
brandon Menk (costa mesa,ca)
with the steelers playoff hopes all but gone, and Tomlin's promise of line up changes, will we be seeing younger players getting more playing time?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I think that will be worked in more, especially now with the extended week. Mike Tomlin mentioned potential changes but there weren't many against Cleveland. Joe Burnett didn't start, but he rotated at cornerback. That was probably the biggest. As the season wraps up, I think you will see more wrinkles.
Who realistically has a better chance at 16-0 colts or saints?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
no way its all colts
James Walker (4:48 PM)
The Colts may shut it down after this week. The Saints still have the Vikings (11-2) clipping at their heels for home-field advantage.
Adam (Apple Valley MN)
As a Ravens fan, I'm surprised the Browns are missing the obvious for their "Czar", Ozzie Newsome. He's a Browns HOFer and a proven franchise builder. I'd hate to see him go but I'm shocked he's not even getting mentioned.
James Walker (4:50 PM)
The Browns have tried to make a run at Newsome before, and the Ravens wouldn't have any of it. That's part of the reason Cleveland "settled" for Newsome's understudies in Phil Savage and George Kokinis.
isaac (seattle )
i think the vikings can rally and beat the saints
James Walker (4:51 PM)
I was impressed by what I saw from Minnesota close up Sunday against the Bengals. If those two teams met, I think the Vikings have as good a chance as any team to beat the Saints.
do you believe the colts should sit their starters? if so how come?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Ok, I'm not sure how we got on this topic. But I am a supporter of resting players. I understand losing momentum, but football is a very physical game and it's far worse to lose a key player due to injury. But I respect every team's call to handle it differently.
Patrick (Kettering, OH)
Do you think that we will see Cribbs as a rb with quinn under center in the next week if not the rest of the season
James Walker (4:56 PM)
I think Cribbs will get more carries but not 20-25 times as a full-time running back. He has too many responsibilities already on special teams.
Justin Sacco (Wickliffe)
What do you think of the chances of the browns reworking Cribbs contract? and if so when?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
The plan is for Josh Cribbs to get a new deal this offseason from everything I've heard. The only snag, as we found out last year, is another regime change, where a new group offers no promises. But I think Cribbs will be taken care of.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time this week. Sorry I can't get to every question. But you can always send your thoughts to our AFC North inbox next to the blog.