Tuesday, November 17, 2009
How I See It: AFC North Stock Watch
By James Walker
1. Brady Quinn, Browns quarterback: Quinn’s second chance to be a starter for the Browns looked much like his first three games of the season. In fact, Monday night’s performance in a 16-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in front of a national television audience may have been the worst of his career.
The third-year quarterback was 13-of-31 for 99 yards and an abysmal 23.5 passer rating. He was sacked four times and was 0-of-7 on passing attempts beyond 10 yards. Perhaps the only good news is Quinn has seven more games to improve his stock with the Browns or potentially another team in the offseason.
2. Brian Daboll, Browns offensive coordinator: Cleveland has the worst offense in the NFL, and it’s happening on the watch of a first-year offensive coordinator. Yes, Daboll doesn’t have much to work with this year. But he leaves much to be desired in terms of play calling.
No matter who is under center, the predictable runs and short passes just aren’t working. Cleveland, coming off a bye, had two weeks to come up with something new and exciting and produced only 160 total yards of offense against Baltimore.
The Browns haven’t scored a touchdown in six of their nine games this year.
3. Bruce Arians, Steelers offensive coordinator: Since we’re picking on offensive coordinators this week, we might as well do the same with Pittsburgh's. Arians was pass-happy Sunday in the Steelers' 18-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The game was close down to the final play, but Arians coached the offense as though the Steelers were down by 20 points. His pass-to-run ratio was 40 to 18, despite Pittsburgh averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Tailback Rashard Mendenhall entered the game with the hot hand and only received 13 attempts. It was a smashmouth, AFC North game. But Arians was intent on airing out the football with nearly every opportunity and that was the wrong decision.
1. Bengals defense: The very underrated Cincinnati defense registered four sacks, one interception and held Pittsburgh to 226 yards of total offense. The Bengals controlled the pace of the game through their defense, which continues to surprise opponents with physical play.
Cincinnati also was money in the red zone. The Bengals made big play after big play to keep the Steelers out the end zone and hold the defending champs to field goals. That kept the game within reach on the road as the Bengals eventually pulled away.
2. Ravens defense: Yes, it was the Browns. But holding any NFL team scoreless for four quarters is a quality feat.
Baltimore’s defense is always confident, but it needed this type of performance. The unit had been giving up a lot of points and yards this season, particularly through the air. But the Ravens were solid against the run, holding Cleveland to 3.3 yards per carry, and against the pass, with four sacks and allowing only 99 yards.
The unit will have to play at this level next week for the Ravens to have a chance at upsetting the undefeated Indianapolis Colts (9-0).
3. Bernard Scott, Bengals tailback: In a big game between two division rivals, you had a sense that a surprise player would step up and make a huge difference. And that player was Scott.
Not only did Scott fill in for injured running back Cedric Benson (hip) in the second half, but his 96-yard kickoff return turned out to be the only touchdown Sunday. With Benson’s status unclear for this week, Scott may get more opportunities with the Bengals.