Wake-up call: Zimmer to the Dolphins?

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
7:00
AM ET
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

There's a good possibility that the Cincinnati Bengals will lose their defensive coordinator this week.

After being spurned by Jeff Fisher, the Dolphins could be lining up a second visit with Mike Zimmer after a "strong" interview, according to NFL Network. Zimmer, who has been in charge of the Bengals' defense since 2008, has a link to Miami's general manager, Jeff Ireland, from their days with the Dallas Cowboys.

But Zimmer could have another option as well. According to NFL Network, Zimmer will interview with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today for the head-coach opening.

Hensley's slant: Losing Zimmer would be a big blow to the Bengals, who have finished in the top half of the NFL in defense in all four of his seasons as coordinator. But Zimmer has certainly earned the shot. The Bengals would replace him with longtime defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle or former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio, who is reportedly owed $5 million from the Jaguars next season.

BROWNS: In an analysis of the team's pending free agents, The Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts running back Peyton Hillis and kicker Phil Dawson will go elsewhere and middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson will stay. According to the paper, before talks ended between Hillis and the Browns, the running back was looking for $10 million in guaranteed money while Cleveland was offering $4 million. Hensley's slant: It would be surprising to see the Browns invest a contract in Hillis after all of the dramatics during the season. If the Browns don't re-sign him, it will be interesting to see what teams want him. The Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins could be potential suitors.

STEELERS: The players expect to put in some hard work to get the passing game to progress next season. "Talking to Ben [Roethlisberger] on the plane, we're going to get together this offseason, and we're going to continue to grow as an offense," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "The goal is always to be the No. 1 offense, so we're headed in that direction." Hensley's slant: Chemistry wasn't the problem with the Steelers' passing game. It was the health of Roethlisberger. Once his foot, thumb and ankle all heal, Pittsburgh will just be fine throwing the ball all over the field.

RAVENS: For the AFC North blog's coverage of the Ravens' playoff win on Sunday, here's my column, update on the health of safety Ed Reed and Quick Take on the AFC Championship Game.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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