Week two of the NFL Preseason has gone and plenty of questions have been left unanswered for the teams in the AFC North.
All four teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns and Steelers) seem to have locked on to their starting quarterback. It’s going to be the position battles that most intrigue fans during training camp and the preseason. At last wide receiver Antonio Brown and his helmet issues are no longer a problem in this division! Good luck with that, Oakland!
But there were two really heartbreaking losses this week in the death’s of former Bengals running back Cedric Benson and Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.
Since the Cleveland Browns are “my” team, I thought I’d try to take an objective look at the AFC North division overall and see who did the most to improve their roster. I said I’d TRY to be objective, but no promises…
When it comes to numbers, the division kind of stair-stepped up: Cleveland had 7, Baltimore had 8, Pittsburgh had 9 and Cincinnati chose a whopping 10 players.
As to positions, Defense has 17, Offense had 16 and there was one kicker taken. Yes, you read that right… my Browns took a kicker in the 5th round… we’ll talk more about that later…
I’m taking a break from my quarterback series to discuss a trait found in some quarterbacks. Leadership.
Leadership has come into question quite a bit in the past month or so, especially among the quarterback position. Specifically Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, whose leadership skills have recently been called out.
Of course, this could be just some silly, off-season stuff to keep us talking. If so, I fell for it. But it did get me to thinking, do quarterbacks really have to be good leaders? I don’t think it’s a true requirement. Respect, yes. Leadership skills? I’m going to go ahead and say no, and this is why.
Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens benched quarterback Joe Flacco and began the new era of Lamar Jackson football. Can Jackson keep being the leading rusher for this team and avoid injury?
The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.
Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”
Despite the win in Cincinnati, the Steelers still end up missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
First, we start the year with running back Le’Veon Bell holding out for a long-term deal instead of a franchise tag. While most felt that it was going to come together at some point, it didn’t.
But no one benefited from Bell’s absence more than RB James Conner. Conner finished the season with almost 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards passing and had 13 touchdowns. He stepped into the RB role and made it his own. Could Bell be changing the way that holdouts go? Is there anything wrong with betting on yourself? Should you think of your team?
No, this isn’t going to be a diatribe on why Cris Collinsworth is awful, nor will it be a diatribe on why he’s amazing. Collinsworth’s catchphrase is what came to my mind when I thought about Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Now here’s a guy who gets it. He just does. He’s one of the younger players in the NFL and he works hard!
Crazy to have Coach Belichick, a legendary coach I’ve watched my whole life, come up to me after the game and tell me he respects my game and how I play!!! 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
The New England Patriots have won five Super Bowl championships, so it’s bound to happen that the once supreme dynasty may eventually topple.
The loss to the Miami Dolphins Miracle last week could have been an anomaly. Apparently, it wasn’t as the Patriots lose a week later to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road 17-10.
Rumors swirled in the off-season that quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski would be retiring. Even head Coach Bill Belichick was on the rumor mill when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reneged on the head coaching job in Indianapolis to stay in New England.
There are obvious problems ravaging the Patriots as they enter Week 16 with a 9-5 record. It starts with Mr. Brady.
It was an emotional day, to say the least for the Pittsburgh fans. Still coming to grips with the shooting at the Pittsburgh Synagogue, Steelers fans filled up the stadium for a game against division foe Cleveland Browns.
Coming off of the bye, and a come from behind win against the Bengals, the Steelers were looking to pick up where they left off. That was the thought anyway. The Steeler defense was a little bit sleepy in the first few possessions. The Browns were able to pretty much do what they wanted on the opening drive, but it stalled and had to kick a field goal.
A couple of series later, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception. Thankfully it wasn’t a pick six, but yeah, it was a slow start. Finally, Roethlisberger was able to connect with wide receiver Antonio Brown and get the scoring party started. Sort of.