AFC North: NFL owners' meeting

Tomlin and Mangini quotes

March, 25, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

I wanted to pass on a few tidbits to AFC North readers from this week's NFL owners' meetings in Dana Point, Calif.

Here are some interesting quotes from Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini this week:

Tomlin on the Steelers-Ravens rivalry:

"You appreciate it. To be a part of it is something that's special and I think that's something we share on both sides of the rivalry. I think the personalities, the leadership, the passion that's displayed on both sides makes the rivalry what it is. And all you've got to do is look at guys like Ray Lewis and James Farrior and Derrick Mason and Hines Ward and it's what the game of football is about. And every time we come together it displays the best of the game of football.”

Tomlin on his fast learning curve:

"This is not a job that has a manual. It's a very lonely job at times. I think you accept all of those responsibilities and challenges going in and then do the best you can. You trust your instructs, at least I do.”

Tomlin on negotiations with LB James Harrison:

"I think we're all confident that it's something that's going to take place. I know it's something both parties want and the process is just running its course at this point.”

Mangini on quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson:

"I don't have a projected starter at this point. What we're going to do is we'll have an open competition where they'll both get a chance to establish that they'll be the starter. I've been through this before in New York. I think that competition was fair. I think it was thorough. And at the time it was very clear to me who the starter should be. I anticipate it being the same way.”

Mangini on receiver Donte Stallworth's situation:

"It's obviously a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and his family. It's a legal matter as well. I made a statement. That's all I'm really going to say about it.”

Mangini on signing right guard Floyd Womack and tackle John St. Clair:

"I think that they both played multiple positions along the line, which I really like. I like their versatility. We're going to play the best players. They'll have a great opportunity and we'll see how that goes.”

Posted by's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North:

Morning take: Welcome to the NFFL: The National Flag Football League.

Morning take: This is an annual pastime for the Browns. Throw this latest installment in with other classic competitions such as Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb and Charlie Frye vs. Anderson.

Morning take: They better get protection for Palmer in the draft first, or he will be on his back before the receivers finish their routes.

Morning take: Absolutely. His namesake and legacy are solid. But Pace has to be able to stay healthy to make a difference next season.

Early gamesmanship?

March, 24, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

Even with a new Lombardi trophy in tow, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to find ways to deflect attention and try to take pressure off them going for their seventh Super Bowl ring.

At Tuesday's owners' meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked who is the favorite in the AFC North next season?

Here was Tomlin's response: "You gotta like Baltimore. They won 11 games last year with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. [The Ravens are a] physical football team. They have a great defense. They have a quarterback that proved he is their quarterback of the future. He is a guy on the rise. You have to respect that."

Posted by's James Walker


Cleveland Browns fans who are tired of quarterback controversies will have to be patient for another year.

At the NFL owners' meeting in Dana Point, Calif., new Browns coach Eric Mangini said Tuesday that the team plans to have Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson compete for the starting job this summer.

Here is the quote from Mangini, courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"I talked to both of them about that and was very clear. I said if they have any questions they can come and see me in terms of the competition and their opportunities. That's what I told them. They understand that."

This declaration isn't necessarily new. Mangini has indicated for the past two months that he isn't favoring either quarterback and refuses to name a starter. But with all the trade talk involving Quinn the past several weeks, the original message became lost in translation.

In other AFC North news from the owners' meeting, the "Hines Ward Rule" of making contact to the head on blindside blocks will now result in a 15-yard penalty. Last year Ward broke the jaw of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers with what was a legal block to the head at the time.

Compensatory picks are in

March, 23, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

For weeks, AFC North fans have been sending messages to the mailbag asking about their favorites team's compensatory picks. We finally have an answer, courtesy of the NFL owners' meetings in Dana Point, Calif.

There were 32 picks awarded in all. Here is the breakdown for AFC North teams:

  • The Cincinnati Bengals gained four extra picks: No. 98 overall in the third round, No. 209 overall in the sixth round, and No. 249 and 252 overall in the seventh round.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers gained one pick: No. 169 overall at the end of the fifth round.

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens were shut out of the compensatory pick sweepstakes this year. The formula, although not exactly known, is based on the combination of quality free agents gained and lost the previous year.

Titans best opener for Steelers

March, 23, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

The Tennessee Titans stomped the "Terrible Towels" following last year's regular season win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Their reward? A Week 1 visit to Heinz Field Thursday Sept. 10 to kick off the 2009 NFL season.

The pairing is no surprise. Once the Baltimore Ravens asked the league not to play in Pittsburgh in prime time for the third straight year, Tennessee became the best opening week opponent for the Steelers. The NFL passed over other potential home candidates for Pittsburgh such as the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings.

In addition to the towel incident, this game also pits two strong AFC contenders. The Titans and Steelers combined for 25 regular-season victories last year and should be among the early favorites to represent the conference next season.

Thought of the Day

March, 23, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

As we mentioned last week, we get a lot of comments, jokes and opinions in our AFC North inbox that do not see the light of day.

  Jason Bridge/US Presswire
  What's the motivation behind the Ravens' reported request to not play a prime-time game in Pittsburgh?
So in an effort to get more views from our community to print, we came up with the "Thought of the Day" to take a look at hot topics in our division.

In our latest version, we look into the Baltimore Ravens reportedly sending a request to the league not to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field next year in prime time. This is essentially asking out of a potential blockbuster matchup between the Steelers and Ravens in Week 1 to open the 2009 season.

TOMMY from LADY LAKE, FL writes: James, luv ya partner but a bit disturbed to find out games can be influenced, like you wrote about baltimore not wanting to play Pittsburgh at home for the nfl opener. I wrote to the sissy ravens organization and their fans: that has got to be the biggest joke i have ever read!! "Tuff shins" baltimore. If you want to be the next big thing out of the afc north then you got to beat the champs on their turf... trying to weasel out of the game and not start the season off with us is disturbing at least... you can't write letters to manipulate an afc ring, you have to do it on the field. why not have your mommys write notes so you can be late for practice or skip gym-class cause your tummys some respect & stop playing "media games" and/or administration style football.

Is Tommy's view correct?

The Ravens have played in Pittsburgh in nationally televised games two years in a row and three of the past four seasons. Is Baltimore simply asking for balance or dodging the defending champs on their terms?

The Ravens will have to travel to Heinz Field at some point in 2009. Does the time really matter?

The NFL will consider all of these questions at the owners' meetings this week. But for now, let's discuss.

Posted by's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:

  • Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun catches up with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti at the owners' meeting in Dana Point, Calif.

Morning take: Bisciotti is confident Baltimore will have a long-term deal in place for defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs. That's a good sign when it comes from the person writing the checks.

Morning take: The top two tackles (Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe) could be off the board by the time the Bengals are on the clock with the No. 6 pick. Would they reach for Oher because of need?

Morning take: The Steelers basically won the Super Bowl without their top draft picks from last season. We will have more on this subject later in the week (hint, hint, wink, wink).

  • Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out the owners' meeting will provide another chance for the Browns to continue their roster overhaul.

Morning take: There will certainly be tons of trade talk when you have every team represented in one place. Whether that materializes into actual movement of players remains to be seen.