Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden signed a three-year, $3.6 million extension to remain with the team, a league source confirmed to The Cincinnati Enquirer. The extension was first reported by an Orlando television station.
The Enquirer reported that the terms of the extension are similar to what defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer received when he stayed with the team two years ago.
This extension comes a day after Gruden declined an interview request from the Rams for their head-coaching position. Gruden made an impact in his first season as the Bengals offensive coordinator with his work with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
Hensley's slant: Perhaps the biggest key in developing a quarterback is continuity. Keeping Gruden means keeping Dalton in the same system with the same coaching. The next step for the Bengals' passing game is finding a more reliable No. 2 wide receiver.
BROWNS: The Browns' timeline for hiring an offensive coordinator could be affected by other teams filling their head-coaching vacancies, according to The Akron Beacon Journal. Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur has been talking to offensive coordinator candidates, but it's unclear whether any formal interviews have occurred. "Candidates with options and deadlines" have been communicating with the organization, a league source told the paper. Hensley's slant: The biggest splash the Browns can make is hiring either Brad Childress or Mike Sherman. But this unaggressive approach suggests the Browns might just promote from within. Quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, a former offensive coordinator at the University of Miami, would be the top candidate currently on staff.
RAVENS: Ed Reed isn't concerned that he finished the regular season with three interceptions, the lowest total for a full season in his 10-year career. “They’re not throwing my way. What do you want me to do?” Reed said, via The Baltimore Sun. “They’re not throwing my way. I can remember two interceptions that really touched my hands, and I didn’t make the play, but I’m not getting action. So this question is for the other teams and the other quarterbacks.” Hensley's slant: Don't be surprised if Reed makes an impact in the playoffs after a quiet regular season. He has seven interceptions in nine postseason games. And remember that two picks were taken away two years ago in Indianapolis by penalty. Reed won't drop a pass thrown at him like Cincinnati's Chris Crocker did last week in Houston.
STEELERS: Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu won his appeal of a $10,000 fine for using a cell phone on the sideline of a game, a league source told the NFL Network. The league fined Polamalu on Oct. 16 because he used his cell phone near the Steelers' bench during a game against Jacksonville. He reportedly made a brief call to his wife after leaving the game with concussion-like symptoms. Hensley's slant: This is no surprise because it was a bad call by the league in the first place. Remember the NFL had fined Polamalu more than Texans defensive end Antonio Smith (who has to pay $7,500 for pulling off the helmet of Ravens guard Andre Gurode) and Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (who has to pay $7,500 for a chop block). That just didn't make sense.