Tuesday, November 3, 2009
How I See It: AFC North Stock Watch
By James Walker
» NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
With half the AFC North division on a bye, the choices are limited this week.
1. George Kokinis, former Browns general manager: Kokinis was relieved of his duties Monday after less than a year on the job, making him an obvious choice for the "Falling" category.
Browns owner Randy Lerner is very upset about the team’s 1-7 start. So he decided to make an example out of Kokinis, who had nowhere near the power as his GM title indicated. It will be interesting to see what the team does with the position.
Luckily for the Browns, they have two weeks to sort things out before their next game, when they host the Baltimore Ravens on "Monday Night Football" Nov. 16.
2. Brian Daboll, Browns offensive coordinator: Just about every Browns coach from head coach Eric Mangini on down is struggling. But Daboll, a first-year offensive coordinator, may be at the top.
Daboll’s offense has gone without a touchdown in five of eight games this season. The Browns also have scored six or less points in five games.
There is definitely a personnel deficiency in Cleveland, but there is no excuse for this level of futility. The Browns must search for their identity with the players they have and go from there.
3. Derek Anderson, Browns quarterback: If there were such a thing as a penny stock in football, Anderson would be it with his play this season.
Anderson is leading the AFC North in “Falling” Stock Watch appearances, and truth be told I’m a little tired of putting him on here every week. But as with any team, a lot of blame goes toward the quarterback, and Anderson had another poor outing in a loss to the Bears. He threw for 76 yards, two interceptions and fumbled in a performance that likely will cost him his job.
Backup Brady Quinn, who hasn’t played since Week 3, was put into Sunday’s game in garbage time, which could be a sign of where the Browns are going at quarterback for the rest of the season. Quinn won the job in training camp, but a slow start gave Anderson the opportunity to play this year.
1. Ravens defense: Baltimore’s proud defense endured two weeks of harsh criticism after falling to No. 19 in total defense. The Ravens lost three straight and for a stretch couldn’t stop the pass or run.
But the Ravens were back to playing their nasty brand of defense during a 30-7 victory over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos (6-1). Baltimore held Denver to just 200 yards of total offense and battered Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton in the process.
If the Ravens play defense like this the rest of the way, they will be very dangerous in the second half.
2. Joe Flacco, Ravens quarterback: With the defense playing well, Flacco just needed to be efficient. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
As Denver’s defense wore down, Flacco got stronger. He completed his final 14 passes to help the Ravens pull away in the second half. Flacco’s completion percentage of 80 percent tied a franchise record and was a personal best for the second-year quarterback.
3. Lardarius Webb, Ravens defensive back
As the Ravens approach the midpoint of the season, Webb is getting a chance to shine.
The rookie third-round pick used the bye week to get up to speed and recorded three tackles and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Denver. Webb is one of the team’s most athletic and quickest defenders. He only lacks experience. Expect Webb’s workload to increase.