Monday, September 19, 2011
Wake-up call: Week 2 in review
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
If we've learned anything from the AFC North after two weeks, it's one thing: All the teams' records are even but their play has not been.
The Baltimore Ravens dominated Ben Roethlisberger one week and were dominated by Matt Hasselbeck the next. The Pittsburgh Steelers looked ragged in the season opener and relentless seven days later (albeit against the overmatched Seattle Seahawks). The Cincinnati Bengals delivered the fourth-quarter comeback by capitalizing on a mistake in Week 1 and failed to do so on two chances against the Denver Broncos in Week 2. And the Browns blew a fourth-quarter lead in Week 1 but closed out the game in Indianapolis in Week 2.
This division doesn't need an analyst. It needs a psychologist. It'll be interesting how the identities of these teams develop over the course of the season. At this point, everyone is the same with a 1-1 record.
- BROWNS: Rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard made an immediate impact in his first game playing on the left side, which is his preferred spot according to The Plain Dealer. He made two big plays in the fourth quarter, hitting Kerry Collins' arm (which led to an interception) and later forcing a fumble by stripping Collins. Hensley's slant: The Browns need someone to step up the pressure on the quarterback after recording 29 sacks last season. Sheard, a second-round pick, is undersized when it comes to defending the run but his high motor should make him an asset in the pass rush.
- BENGALS: The failed comeback in Denver was the Bengals' best loss in years because Andy Dalton emerged as a leader, The Enquirer's Paul Daugherty wrote. "Red Dalton" never looked like a rookie in trying to bring back Cincinnati. Hensley's slant: There is no doubt that Dalton has the look and composure of a successful quarterback. Still, it's only his second start. Let's see how he holds up against the Ravens and Steelers instead of the injury-stricken Denver defense.
- STEELERS: Rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert received some complimentary words from coach Mike Tomlin after his first NFL start, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. He is taking over for Willie Colon, who's out for the season with torn triceps. Hensley's slant: The solid debut for Gilbert is a surprise considering where he started. The second-round pick out of Florida reported to training camp 15 pounds overweight and missed a few practices this summer with a hamstring injury. Gilbert justified the Steelers' commitment to him Sunday.
- RAVENS: Joe Flacco isn't clicking with his wide receivers, according to The Baltimore Sun. Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans combined for five catches for 91 yards in Sunday's loss at Tennessee, and rookie Torrey Smith has been shut out in the first two games. Hensley's slant: One problem is Evans' health. Flacco had an instant rapport with Evans in the preseason, hitting the speedy target downfield. Since he's been nursing the ankle injury, Evans has been a non-factor.