Monday, January 14, 2013
Wake-up call: Ravens' redemption tour
By Jamison Hensley
The latest stop on the Ravens' redemption tour appropriately takes them to New England for the AFC championship game. Already in these playoffs, the Ravens beat Baltimore's old team (the Colts) in the playoffs for the first time and knocked off Peyton Manning for the first time since 2001. Now, they're off to settle the score in Foxborough, Mass., where they came up short in the final minute in last year's AFC championship game.
Here's my quick take on Sunday's AFC championship game. I also want to prepare everyone that the AFC North blog will be dominated by Ravens coverage this week. If there's news with the other teams in the division, I will certainly address it here. But the Ravens are one win away from the Super Bowl and they should be the focus this week. Don't be upset with me. Be upset with your teams for not making it this far. Now, here's your wake-up call:
RAVENS: The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck believes there's something special brewing with these Ravens. "It will take more than mojo for the Ravens to succeed in what will be their third attempt to win the AFC title game in five years," Schmuck wrote. "They'll need to shake up Pats quarterback Tom Brady the way they rattled Peyton Manning in the second half Saturday. They'll need to protect the football and run it effectively behind their rejuvenated offensive line. They'll need to contain the New England return game and wipe away the memory of their frightening special teams breakdown against the Broncos. If they do that, they won't need any divine intervention, but it will probably seem like they got it."
BENGALS: Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is becoming a popular head coaching candidate these days. He interviewed with the Chargers on Sunday, will meet with the Eagles on Monday and will speak to the Jaguars on Tuesday. Gruden also interviewed with the Cardinals last Thursday. With the possibility that Gruden could leave, the Bengals are expected to hold onto assistant coach Hue Jackson. He would likely become the team's offensive coordinator if Jay Gruden gets a head coaching job, sources told CBS Sports.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette expects left tackle Max Starks and guard Ramon Foster to leave in free agency and left guard Willie Colon to get released. His projected lineup for the offensive line goes like this: Marcus Gilbert at left tackle, Kelvin Beachum at left guard, Maurkice Pouncey at center, David DeCastro at right guard and Mike Adams at right tackle. If this is how the Steelers line up to start 2013, only one will be at the same spot (Pouncey) from the 2012 season-opening lineup.
BROWNS: The Akron Beacon-Journal's Marla Ridenour thinks Rob Chudzinski was the right hire for the Browns. "I believe Chudzinski was the best coach they could get considering the organizational structure and the football power given to CEO Joe Banner," Ridenour wrote. "Those yawning over Chudzinski’s selection or insisting that he’s a Pat Shurmur clone must remember the constraints Haslam put on his coach when he said, 'Football will report to Joe.'"