AFC North: Dick Jauron

The last three Cleveland Browns offensive coordinators have been Brad Childress, Norv Turner and, now, Kyle Shanahan.

Two were former head coaches who brought impressive résumés to their jobs.

Childress took Brett Favre and the Vikings to within a whisker of the Super Bowl in 2009, guiding Favre to one of his best seasons. He crashed and burned the following year, then took a year off before joining Pat Shurmur’s staff in Cleveland. Midway through that season, he had Brandon Weeden looking like he might work out as the Browns quarterback, but things fizzled -- as they usually do -- when a coaching staff and players pretty much know their days are numbered due to an ownership change.

[+] EnlargeNorv Turner
AP Photo/David RichardNorv Turner came to Cleveland with a sparkling resume, but still only lasted a season.
Enter Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner, who hired Rob Chudzinski as coach and touted the hire of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator as the veteran guy who could make it all work. Turner was a former coordinator for Jimmy Johnson in Dallas and a head coach in Washington and San Diego. His coaching résumé isn’t perfect, but few question his smarts and credentials.

Rarely were phrases like “reason for optimism” not used with Turner’s name. He got wins out of Brian Hoyer, but struggled without a running game and lack of continuity at quarterback. As the season droned on, Turner seemed to get more and more frustrated with the expectations for a team that lacked all the cards.

Childress and Turner are both good coaches. They’ve proven that. They know what they’re doing. They were both fired by the Browns.

The same was true on the defensive side of the ball. Dick Jauron was the coordinator two years ago. It’s impossible to find anyone who doesn’t respect Jauron. He’s a former head coach who knows the game, knows how to coach.

When Haslam and Banner made the change to a new staff, they touted Ray Horton as another great addition. Horton had interviewed to be the Browns' head coach, he spoke a good game and he attacked defensively. Horton knows what he’s doing, but his unit struggled with some poor end-of-game production.

Good coaches can struggle -- and they can lose. Bill Cowher had some very poor losing seasons. It happens.

But the spin that was put on the Turner-Horton tandem when they were hired bordered on the absurd. Horton and Turner were going to fill potholes citywide, balance the federal budget, win games and water and fertilize the stadium grass in their downtime. Some optimism wasn’t unfounded, but the public spin made them seem more like miracle workers than coaches working with a needy roster. And it wasn’t the public or media making these statements, it was the Browns.

That’s four very good coaches who were Browns coordinators the past two seasons, coaches with head-coaching experience, coaches with winning experience, coaches with impressive résumés. The difference between Josh McDaniels and Norv Turner last season may well be Tom Brady. The difference between Ray Horton and Dan Quinn starts with Richard Sherman.

Now the Browns have Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and Jim O’Neil as defensive coordinator. Shanahan has five years experience as a coordinator, O’Neil has no experience but will have new coach Mike Pettine calling defensive signals for at least the first season.

This version of the Browns may work, and the new group deserves a chance.

But nobody can say it failed the previous two seasons because of a lack of qualified guys leading the offense and defense. The résumés for the coordinators the Browns had the past two years would stack up with any in the league.
The biggest challenge for defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is to patch up the Browns' dismal run defense. It's become even more difficult to do so because Cleveland is trying to patch up holes in the starting lineup as well.

Only two starters in the Browns' front seven are healthy and expected to play in Thursday's preseason game against the Packers. Outside linebacker Chris Gocong is out for the season with an Achilles injury, and defensive tackle Phil Taylor is expected to miss at least the first six games of the season after having surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. The others who will likely be sidelined Thursday are: outside linebacker Scott Fujita (left leg), middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (shoulder) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (right knee).

The depleted Browns defense gave up 115 yards rushing in the first half at Detroit a week ago. The Browns showed no containment on outside runs and got gashed on runs up the middle.

This was reminiscent of last season, when teams averaged 147.4 yards on the ground per game against Cleveland. Only St. Louis and Tampa Bay had worse run defenses in 2011.

“I know we are a better defense, a deeper defense, and I believe we are a tougher defense than we were a year ago," Jauron said. "How that translates statistically, I don’t have a clue.”
The Browns made the right call when they decided to add an offensive coordinator, and they needed to hire someone with experience.

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Childress


But hiring Brad Childress -- who was named offensive coordinator, according to a league source -- is not the answer. The Browns really needed to push to get Mike Sherman, who appears to be headed to the Miami Dolphins to be their offensive coordinator.

The problem with Childress is his track record with offenses. In the eight years Childress has been a head coach or offensive coordinator in the NFL, his offenses have ranked in the bottom half of the league five times.

The disturbing part is he's been an NFL playcaller for only one season. The result? The Vikings finished 23rd in yards and 26th in points (17.6 per game) in 2006 before Childress passed those duties over to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell the next season. Childress didn't call the plays in his three seasons as the Eagles' offensive coordinator (Andy Reid held that role), and he didn't call the plays in his final four seasons with the Vikings.

That résumé doesn't inspire confidence that he will turn around a Browns offense that scored more than 17 points twice last season. Then again, it's hard to imagine any coordinator could really affect an offense that has major question marks at quarterback and running back as well as a void of playmakers at wide receiver.

Hiring Childress isn't the worst move. The team could have simply promoted quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, but that wouldn't have accomplished anything.

Pat Shurmur was overwhelmed in his first season as the Browns' head coach, and he needed to have the responsibility of running the offense taken away. The only way an inexperienced head coach will succeed is if he has experienced coordinators supporting him. The Browns will have veteran voices with Childress and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.

If I were Shurmur, I would rely on Childress' advice but not his play-calling ability.

Browns regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
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» NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: No. 28
Preseason Power Ranking: No. 29

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Jason Bridge/US PresswirePeyton Hillis' contract drama affected his play all season and his return to Cleveland is in doubt.
Biggest surprise: Cleveland changed defensive coordinators last offseason, going from the maverick ways of Rob Ryan to the calming influence of Dick Jauron. The style changed as well, from Ryan's frenetic schemes to Jauron's emphasis on fundamentals. The result: the Browns went from the 22nd-ranked defense in 2010 to the 10th-ranked this year. The yards and points went down and the sacks went up. The Browns allowed just 307 points this season, which is their lowest figure since allowing 301 in 2005. In Cleveland's four wins, the defense allowed an average of 12 points.

Biggest disappointment: Peyton Hillis went from being on the cover of the Madden video game to being the perfect example of what not to do in a contract season. The running back's frustrations over the lack of a new deal spilled onto the playing field, where his total yards dropped 56 percent from a year ago (1,654 to 717). It became a soap opera with Hillis this season when he missed a game on the advice of his agent because of strep throat, failed to show up for a scheduled appearance at a Halloween party for children, and got married in Arkansas instead of getting treatment at the Browns facility for his injured hamstring. It would be surprising to see the Browns invest a contract in Hillis after this year's antics.

Biggest need: The Browns desperately need offensive playmakers and lots of them. Their list includes: a strong-armed quarterback, a No. 1 receiver, a game-breaking running back and a big-play threat at tight end. It's easy to see why the Browns scored the third-fewest points in the NFL (13.6 points per game) under first-year coach Pat Shurmur. Cleveland produced only six pass plays for more than 40 yards (third-fewest in the league) and one run for that same distance. It seemed like the Browns ended up with more concussions than touchdowns this season.

Team MVP: The backbone of the NFL's second-ranked passing defense was cornerback Joe Haden. It was a breakout year for the seventh overall pick of the 2010 draft. He finished sixth in passes defensed and has the potential to be a shutdown corner. He didn't have an interception, but that will come if the Browns can increase the pressure on quarterbacks. Some would argue that linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is the Browns' MVP because he finished second in the NFL in tackles. But Cleveland allowed the third-most rushing yards in the league, which is a reflection of the middle linebacker.

Big decision: Look for the Browns to add a quarterback in the draft or free agency after Shumur said Colt McCoy will have to win the job next season. In his first full season as the starter, McCoy ranked 26th in completion percentage (57.2), 25th in passing yards per game (210.2), 32nd in yards per attempt (5.9) and 25th in passer rating (74.6). Some argue that McCoy's statistics are low because the Browns are tied for the most drops in the NFL (33), according to ESPN Stats & Information, and have struggled to protect him. Others say McCoy isn't a starting quarterback at this level because he lacks arm strength.
In our closest SportsNation poll ever during my time here, the Ravens' Chuck Pagano edged out the Steelers' Dick LeBeau and the Bengals' Jay Gruden as the people's choice for best coordinator in the division this season.

More than 8,900 votes were recorded, and Pagano received 31 percent of them. In his first season as Baltimore's defensive coordinator, Pagano has lived up to the highest expectations for that position, which was previously held by Marvin Lewis and Rex Ryan.

Baltimore ranks third in fewest yards allowed (292.3) and fewest points given up (16.5). But Pagano's influence in his first year as coordinator has been increasing the pressure. The Ravens lead the NFL with 38 sacks, which is 11 more than they had all of last season. More hits on the quarterback has led to more turnovers. Baltimore is tied for the most takeaways in the AFC with 22.

Here are the results:

Chuck Pagano, Ravens defensive coordinator: 31 percent

Dick LeBeau, Steelers defensive coordinator: 27 percent

Jay Gruden, Bengals offensive coordinator: 27 percent

Dick Jauron, Browns defensive coordinator: 15 percent
The AFC North has featured some outstanding performances from quarterbacks, rookies and defensive playmakers this season. The division has also had some strong efforts from coordinators, too.

The coordinators in the AFC North have turned around units, maintained excellence through injuries to star players and groomed rookies.

Here are the candidates for the best coordinator in the AFC North this year:
  • Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator, Bengals: Cincinnati got rid of two of the most productive offensive players in team history, quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Chad Ochocinco, and replaced them with rookies, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. While it's easy to see the talent of the first-year players now, that transition is a challenge for anyone especially a new coordinator. The Bengals rank 12th in scoring (23.5 points) and 18th in yards per game (334.6).
  • Dick Jauron, defensive coordinator, Browns: Jauron changed Cleveland's style while taking over a young defense. He went from Rob Ryan's helter skelter schemes to a more simplified one that relied on discipline. The result: the Browns went from No. 22 in defense last year to No. 6 this year. In Cleveland's four wins, the defense has given up an average of 12 points.
  • Chuck Pagano, defensive coordinator, Ravens: Baltimore ranks third in both fewest yards allowed (292.3) and fewest points given up (16.5). But Pagano's influence in his first year as coordinator has been increasing the pressure. The Ravens lead the NFL with 38 sacks, 11 more than they had all of last year. More hits on the quarterback has led to more turnovers. Baltimore is tied for the most takeaways in the AFC with 22.
  • Dick LeBeau, defensive coordiantor, Steelers: LeBeau often gets overlooked because it's assumed that Pittsburgh will always be among the elite defenses in the NFL. The Steelers haven't created as many turnovers as in years past, but they're still second in fewest yards (277.5) and fourth in fewest points (17.1). LeBeau's impact has been his ability to keep the Steelers playing strong defense despite six starters in the front seven missing at least one game.

So, who has done the best job at coordinator this year? Go ahead and register your vote or let me know what you think in the comments section below. I'll follow up by the end of the week.

AFC North Game Balls

October, 25, 2011
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We're handing out game balls after Week 7 and here is who's getting them:

OFFENSE: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This was a no-brainer because Roethlisberger threw three touchdowns while the other two AFC North offenses combined for one touchdown. Plus, after Arizona cut the lead to 17-14, Roethlisberger responded by completing 6 of 7 passes for 80 yards. He finished off the drive by eluding an unblocked defender and throwing a 4-yard touchdown. It was classic Roethlisberger.

DEFENSE: Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. Cleveland might not be as flashy on defense as last year under Rob Ryan, but the Browns are having better results under a more straightforward approach. The Browns held the Seahawks to 137 total yards, the fewest allowed by any defense this week. According to the News-Herald, it was the fewest amount of yards given up by Cleveland since Dec. 5, 1993.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Browns kicker Phil Dawson. Sure, he had two kicks blocked but it wasn't his fault. Dawson still accounted for all of Cleveland's scoring in the Browns' 6-3 win over Seattle. He kicked field goals from 52 and 53 yards despite having a bruise on his right thigh.

The are a few things you can guarantee in the AFC North in what should be a wild summer of free agency. One is that the Cleveland Browns will be searching for a starting-caliber safety.

Fortunately for Cleveland, safety is one of the deepest positions this year in free agency. There will be several good players looking for jobs and the Browns have money to spend.

Here is a free-agent preview for safeties:

Quintin Mikell, 30, Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Mikell is not a game-changing safety but could be the type of solid player the Browns are looking for. Mikell isn't great at any one thing but sound at everything. He's a solid tackler and solid in coverage. That fits well with second-year safety T.J. Ward, who is a big hitter. There are also a lot of ties with Mikell and the Browns. Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert, who held the same role in Philadelphia, is very familiar Mikell. And new Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron worked with Mikell last year as defensive backs coach of the Eagles.

Chances for the Browns: Good

Donte Whitner, 25, Buffalo Bills

Analysis: Whitner is a Cleveland native and also played for Jauron for four years (2006-2009) when Jauron was head coach of the Bills. Whitner is an aggressive safety who makes a lot of tackles. Last year he was second on the Bills with 140 tackles. But Whitner is not great in coverage and, thus, very similar to Ward. Pairing them together would make the Browns extremely physical but defending the deep pass could be an issue. Still, Whitner is a significant upgrade over what the Browns currently have at the position.

Chances for the Browns: Good

Eric Weddle, 26, San Diego Chargers

Analysis: Weddle is one of the better cover safeties in free agency, which is something the Browns are looking for. But Weddle will get plenty of interest around the league, and the Browns will not be front-runners for his services. Don't expect this one to happen.

Chances for the Browns: Average

Michael Huff, 28, Oakland Raiders

Analysis: A former No. 7 overall pick, Huff has mostly underachieved in Oakland. Huff had a solid contract year in 2010 but hasn't been the game-changing safety many expected. Huff is talented, and perhaps with better coaching and a fresh start he can be more consistent. Huff has been linked to several teams, including the Houston Texans, but there is no indication he would be interested in Cleveland or vice versa.

Chances for the Browns: Below average

AFC North links: Winslow feeling strong

May, 27, 2011
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Baltimore Ravens

Matt Stover is walking away from the game with no regrets.

The Ravens have cancelled plans to cut pay for employees during the lockout.

Cincinnati Bengals

In light of his recent plan to wrangle snakes, Yahoo! Sports has come up with a few other offseason activities for Chad Ochocinco.

Cleveland Browns

Kellen Winslow says his right knee is feeling better than it has in years.

Dick Jauron is excited about his opportunity as the Browns' defensive coordinator.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says James Harrison's recent remarks were out of line.

Warren Sapp had some words for Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
Here are the latest happenings Monday evening in the AFC North:
  • Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer's home is officially sold, leaving Palmer without a residence in Cincinnati where he's currently under contract.
  • Second-round pick and receiver Torrey Smith is happy to join the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Speaking of receivers, here is a video on Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Dancing With The Stars."
  • What will be Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's role in free agency?

Season of coaching change in AFC North

February, 24, 2011
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 Pat Shurmur and Jay Gruden AP PhotoPat Shurmur, left, and Jay Gruden are two of the new faces in the AFC North.
The offseason has just begun, but the coaching carousel has been spinning for all four teams in the AFC North.

Often the struggling teams make significant coaching changes, and that was the case with the Cincinnati Bengals (4-12) and Cleveland Browns (5-11). But playoff teams like the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) and even the Super Bowl runner-up Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) also experienced some turnover on their staff.

Here is a look at each change and what it means for the division:

Cleveland Browns

In: Head coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and a new staff.

Out: Former head coach Eric Mangini, former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

What happened? Mangini entered this past season on the hot seat and went 5-11 for the second consecutive year. There were a lot of philosophical differences between Mangini and Browns president Mike Holmgren. So when the team wasn't winning, it made for an easy decision to go in a different direction. Enter Shurmur, who was a surprise hire for Cleveland. Shurmur has no prior head-coaching experience and wasn't on the radar of other teams. The Browns have pretty much cleaned house and hired a new staff, which includes Jauron and veteran defensive assistant Ray Rhodes.

Analysis: Last year, Holmgren was dumbfounded by some of the things the Browns were doing, particularly on offense. But Holmgren and Shurmur share many of the same views, which will give Holmgren more say in what goes on, and I think being on the same page is important for any team. The Browns are one of the few teams this year that will change both their offense and defense. Cleveland will go to a West Coast offense under Shurmur, who did not hire an offensive coordinator and will call the plays. The Browns also will switch to a 4-3 defense, which is something they haven't run since 2004. Shurmur is taking on a lot of responsibility as a rookie head coach and de facto offensive coordinator, which raises some concerns. Cleveland hopes veteran coaches like Jauron and Rhodes will take care of the defense, giving Shurmur one less thing to worry about. In terms of personnel, the Browns have a lot of work to do. They need better receivers on offense if they plan to pass more and playmakers at defensive end to run a 4-3 scheme.

Cincinnati Bengals

In: Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, receivers coach James Urban.

Out: Former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, former receivers coach Mike Sheppard.

What happened? Changes were inevitable for Cincinnati's coaching staff this season. There was a lot of unrest among players internally who didn't like the scheme on offense. The Bengals entered the season with playoff aspirations but had an abysmal four-win campaign. Quarterback Carson Palmer was so unhappy that he demanded a trade after the season. Receivers Terrell Owens publicly criticized the coaching staff several times and starting tailback Cedric Benson said he was not returning if Bratkowski was still the offensive coordinator. Bratkowski was let go and later hired by the Atlanta Falcons, and Sheppard went to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gruden, a former UFL head coach and the brother of former NFL coach Jon Gruden, was hired as offensive coordinator, and Urban was hired as receivers coach from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Analysis: Cincinnati will be the second team in the division implementing a West Coast offense. Gruden also says he wants to make sure Cincinnati has a power running game, which is needed in this division. When the Bengals were at their best in 2009, they ran the football effectively and played tough defense. Cincinnati went away from that last year and had an awful season. How Gruden's offense translates from the UFL to the NFL remains to be seen. Cincinnati also has to handle a lot of personnel issues. Will Palmer retire? If so, who will be the new quarterback? Should the team trade Chad Ochocinco? Will Benson return? Cincinnati will have a very busy offseason trying to figure out these questions before putting together its new offense.

(Read full post)

Leading Questions: AFC North

February, 23, 2011
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With the offseason in full swing, let's take a look at one major question facing each AFC North team as it begins preparations for the 2011 season:

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Should the Cincinnati Bengals give into Carson Palmer’s trade demands?

After eight underachieving seasons in Cincinnati, Palmer wants out and everyone from his agent to teammates to his realtor believe Palmer is absolutely serious. So how should the Bengals handle this situation?

Cincinnati is consistently one of the NFL's more downtrodden franchises and has been through this before. In the past, players such as Takeo Spikes, Corey Dillon and Chad Ochocinco have expressed the desire to get out of Cincinnati and couldn't leave on their terms.

But Palmer's situation is different for two reasons. First, he's the franchise quarterback, the most important player on the team. Second, he's threatened to retire if he's not traded, which is something Spikes, Dillon and Ochocinco never did. These two factors up the ante tremendously in terms of putting pressure on the Bengals.

If Palmer, 31, holds firm on his demands, that leaves Dan LeFevour and Jordan Palmer as the other quarterbacks on Cincinnati's roster. The Bengals cannot start the 2011 season with either of those players under center. As more time goes by with uncertainty, it becomes more likely the Bengals must do something to get quarterback help in the draft or free agency.

In my opinion, the Bengals should trade Palmer while they can still get decent value for him. Cincinnati will be rebuilding for the next two years anyway -- with or without Palmer -- and there are plenty of teams in need of a good quarterback.

But the Bengals are standing their ground, hoping Palmer will have a change of heart. That's a dangerous assumption with free agency potentially starting next month and the NFL draft coming in April.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Are concerns about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco legit?

As we continue the subject of quarterbacks, we move over to Baltimore. Flacco is getting drilled this offseason by media and fans for not leading the Ravens past the divisional round. Baltimore entered last season as a Super Bowl favorite and by those standards the team -- and particularly the offense -- underachieved.

Now people are starting to doubt Flacco. He has struggled in the playoffs, recording just one passer rating above 90.0 in seven career postseason games. It's no secret an organization is tied into the success and development of its quarterback. But are the expectations of Flacco, in his third season, too high too soon? The answer is, yes.

Flacco has become a victim of his own early success. He advanced to the AFC title game as a rookie and has had expectations of getting to the Super Bowl thrust upon him since.

Last season, Flacco set career-highs in passing yards (3,622), touchdowns (25) and passer rating (93.6) for the Ravens (12-4). But it's the second-round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that stands out in most people's mind.

Flacco likely must get past rival quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh for the Ravens to take that next step. But there is no shame in losing to the eventual AFC champions in the postseason.

Young quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman are viewed in a much more favorable light in their cities. Flacco has had as much career success and put up equal or better numbers than all of them. He deserves a break.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

What will the Steelers do at cornerback?

As their Super Bowl XLV loss to the Green Bay Packers proved, the Steelers must add quality depth in the secondary. The Packers, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints provide the blueprint of how to beat Pittsburgh's vaunted defense: spread the Steelers out with multiple receivers.

The Steelers simply don't have enough good cornerbacks to defend three- and four-receiver sets. This also takes Pittsburgh's strongest players-- its linebackers -- off the field in favor of players such as William Gay and Anthony Madison.

Now that linebacker LaMarr Woodley received the franchise tag, veteran cornerback and pending free agent Ike Taylor is Pittsburgh's No. 1 priority. Taylor is Pittsburgh's best corner, but he's also 31 and the Steelers must gauge how much money and how many years to give to him.

The draft will also be important. Previous draft picks at corner such as Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett and Crezdon Butler have not panned out for the Steelers, who typically address this position in the middle rounds. It's time Pittsburgh invests a high draft pick at this position to increase the probability of finding a future starter.

Do not be surprised if Pittsburgh retains Taylor in free agency and spends its first- or second-round pick on a cornerback in April to fix this issue.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Are the Cleveland Browns fine without an offensive coordinator?

Pat Shurmur of the Browns has a lot on his plate this year. Not only is he a first-time head coach, but Shurmur is also taking over the role as offensive coordinator in his first season with Cleveland.

Is this a good idea?

After a brief search, the Browns decided to leave the position vacant. Shurmur is a former offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and didn't want to give up those responsibilities after becoming a head coach.

A head coach's first responsibility is to manage all 53 players. But Shurmur clearly will give more special attention to his players on offense. That's a major reason the Browns hired experienced defensive coaches such as Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes to manage the other side of the football.

President Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have both done a good job so far in Cleveland. But I have reservations about creating this type of setup with a rookie head coach on a rebuilding team.
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:
  • Head coach John Harbaugh says the Baltimore Ravens will win championships with third-year quarterback Joe Flacco.
Morning take: Flacco is getting some heat for the Ravens not making it past the divisional round. Expectations will only increase in Baltimore as he matures.
Morning take: I think this is one of the most intriguing stories of the offseason, especially since this is out of character for Palmer. He is obviously fed up with Cincinnati's losing ways.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers lost fullback Frank "The Tank" Summers to the San Diego Chargers.
Morning take: Summers will try his luck elsewhere after two uneventful seasons with the Steelers. Any fullback isn't going to get much playing time in Pittsburgh’s offense, which prefers to run three-receiver sets.
  • The Cleveland Browns are loaded with experienced coaches on defense.
Morning take: President Mike Holmgren and head coach Pat Shurmur will be focused primarily on implementing a new West Coast offense in Cleveland. So the defense is pretty much up to Dick Jauron, Ray Rhodes and their staff.

Morning take: James Harrison surgery

February, 14, 2011
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Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North: Morning take: Harrison dealt with a shoulder ailment late in the year but it's unclear if that's what the surgery is for. Either way, his timeline shouldn't impact much in the offseason. Morning take: Cleveland's defense will have a very different look in 2011. Jauron has the challenge of improving personnel and teaching a new 4-3 scheme.
Morning take: Stranger things have happened, but I just don't see it. The Ravens have a need at tackle but likely will look elsewhere.
Morning take: Bratkowski spent a long time with Carson Palmer in Cincinnati with mixed results. So it will be interesting to see how Bratkowski develops young, up-and-coming quarterback Matt Ryan.

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AFC NORTH SCOREBOARD