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Saturday, November 13, 2010
Walker's mailbag: Marvin Lewis' future

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.

Harry Smythe from Gaithersburg, Md., writes: If Marvin Lewis doesn't re-sign with the Cincinnati Bengals, is there any chance he would come back to Baltimore to coach defense?

James Walker: I haven't heard anything along those lines, Harry. According to people I've talked to, the feeling I get is three things are possible (in no particular order): Lewis could return to Cincinnati, he could test the waters to try to get another head-coaching job, or he could coach in the college ranks. Personally, I view Lewis as more of an NFL coach than a college coach. But I'm told don't rule it out.


Gabe from Iowa wants to know if Jon Gruden would be interested in coaching the Bengals.

Walker: Gruden was complimentary of quarterback Carson Palmer and the Bengals during the "Monday Night Football" telecast, but I wouldn’t read too much into it, Gabe. Cincinnati is a tough sell for any big-name coach because, frankly, it's not viewed as an attractive job in NFL circles. The Bengals have heavy-handed ownership, no general manager and a scant scouting staff. Any coach who comes in must deal with that. If Gruden leaves ESPN's television booth next year, he will generate plenty of interest from more attractive suitors. Even within the AFC North, Cleveland is as a stronger possibility for Gruden than Cincinnati, because the Browns have a more traditional front-office setup and Gruden has a relationship with Cleveland president Mike Holmgren.


Shaneeka from High Point, N.C., writes:  I keep reading about how disappointing the Bengals' season has been due to their talent level. But are they really that talented? I mean, what starters on the Bengals could walk into Pittsburgh or Baltimore and start over the Steelers and Ravens current starters?

Walker: Shaneeka, comparing the Bengals to the two of the NFL's most talented teams is a bit unfair. But Bengals starters Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams are a half-dozen players who could start for Baltimore, Pittsburgh or both right now.


Joel from Erie, Pa., writes: Do you believe Mike Holmgren is leaning toward firing Eric Mangini or keeping him for next year?

Walker: Holmgren hasn't made his decision, Joel. We're only halfway through the season, so it would be pure speculation. The Browns are 3-5, and Holmgren will grade Mangini's entire body of work at the end of the season. Mangini has two big wins, but I think he must do better than 3-5 in the second half of the season to boost his résumé. A 6-10 season would be a hard sell to Holmgren even though the Browns are getting better.


Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., wants to know if Mangini's indecisiveness is hindering rookie quarterback Colt McCoy's development.

Walker: It's up to the individual player, but it hasn't hurt McCoy so far. McCoy has taken the approach every week to prepare like the starter and that has helped him. He doesn't seem fazed by it, which shows me that he's mentally tough. Although I don't agree with Mangini waffling with his quarterbacks, McCoy is handling it well.


Todd Marchese from Goulburn, Australia, writes: What are the Steelers going to do about Jeff Reed's inaccuracy?

Walker: Todd, there's really nothing the Steelers can do. I don't think they'll bring in another kicker. I don't get the sense Pittsburgh has lost confidence in Reed. The Steelers believe he will turn it around eventually. But Reed must start making clutch kicks.


Noah from Baltimore wants to know if Ravens rookie defensive lineman Terrance Cody made an impact against the Atlanta Falcons.

Walker: Cody got significant playing time for his standards and played pretty well. He held up the line of scrimmage and was active, recording five tackles. Atlanta only rushed for 60 yards on 23 carries. The Ravens can use Cody in the rotation during the second half of the season to keep everyone fresh.

Comment and complaint department

Here are some comments and complaints from our AFC North community.

Matt W. from Nebraska writes: Can you tell me why Braylon Edwards is obsessed with hating the city of Cleveland? Did I miss something? We all know things didn't work out, but I can't understand why he is obsessed with showing such hostility and rage and making it seem like he was so mistreated. Other than boos when he dropped balls, I can't think of a time BE was mistreated by the fans. I've seen other players in other cities, including Cleveland, treated worse than he was. The way he is acting you would have thought his jerseys were burned in the street and he had a retaliatory fake commercial on the internet like a certain someone. Am I missing something?

Dave from Raleigh, NC, writes: If the Browns can improve to 5-5 (OK, let's say 6-6) by Week 13 with three division games left to play, do you think they graduate from "spoiler" to "division contender"?

Walker: Matt, Edwards, in his mind, always felt like an outsider because he played for the University of Michigan. He never thought he got a fair chance in Cleveland, but I disagree. Edwards' drops, lack of accountability and attitude didn't go over well in Cleveland.  But his feelings of rejection will motivate him Sunday when the New York Jets come to town. Dave, slow down. The Browns are not winning the division this year. Playing competitively and being a good spoiler for playoff contenders is a solid role for them in the second half of the season.


John Shepherd from Dallas writes: I am a Steelers fan living in Dallas for the last 20 years. I was wondering for all the kudos Pittsburgh gets for starting 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger, why you dowe not hear Mike Tomlin's name mentioned more for coach of the year?

E from Dayton, Ohio, writes: After watching that game Monday night, Maurkice Pouncey has to be rookie of the year. The difference with him out of the game was amazing. I thought our season was over. Pouncey will help us survive losing Starks.

Walker: John, Tomlin is in the mix, but it's too early for coaching awards. I don't feel any coach is being mentioned right now, because the second half of the season is so important. E, Pouncey's play has made everyone around him better, but it's rare that a center gets that kind of consideration. A skill player such as St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is more likely to win.


Will writes: Why are all Baltimore Ravens fans slightly deluded. I can't stand them, and I'm not an AFC North fan. I don't believe Joe Flacco will ever win the big game, and if they do it's because of something else. His games against the Steelers, Patriots and Colts were less than OK.

Brian from the Batcave writes: James, you keep saying that the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers. Isn't that a bit premature? They still play each other one more time, and there is no reason to talk about tiebreakers midseason.

Walker: I believe the Ravens are a solid Super Bowl contender, Will. Flacco showed some grit Thursday in bringing the Ravens back from down 13 against the Atlanta Falcons in a big game. It wasn't his fault Baltimore lost. Brian, the Ravens own the head-to-head tiebreaker, but that doesn't mean it can't change. If it does in December, then I will write the Steelers own the head-to-head tiebreaker.


John from Newlexignton, Ohio, writes: I have been a die-hard Bengals fan my whole life and I am 33. After this year I am done getting up for football season, done thinking that this team can do anything but screw up like always. Do you see any reason why I should watch football ever again?

Walker: John, don't give up your fandom. I understand that it's not easy being a Bengals fan, and this is another disappointing year. But cheer them on the rest of the season and keep in mind that a lot of changes could be made in the offseason.

AFC North Homer of the Week

Our favorite homer is back! The first three-time winner for "Homer of the Week" still believes in the 2010 Bengals.

John W. from Denver writes: This is getting harder each week to do this, but I still think the Bengals are the best team. They are a great team. It's not that the other teams are better, it's just they keep defeating themselves. I predict a huge turnaround this week with the Bengals winning 30-7 against the Colts. It isn't over yet, 10-6 is still possible. WHO DEY!!!!

Walker: We're going to retire John W. and put him in the "Homer of the Week" Hall of Fame. His comments aren't giving anyone else a chance.

If you have any questions, comments or complaints, feel free to send them to our division inbox or AFC North Twitter.