AFC North: Thought of the Day

This week's "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North involved one of the hottest topics of the offseason in Carson Palmer. Cincinnati's franchise quarterback has been "Bengalized" and wants to be traded or released. Otherwise, Palmer threatened to retire.

Now it's up to the Bengals' brass to determine how to handle this situation. Here were responses from our AFC North community:

Trade Palmer!



Chris Gardner from Santa Maria, Calif., writes: If I was Mike Brown, I would swallow my pride and trade Palmer while I can still get some value for him. I wouldn't want a player in a key position like QB who doesn't want to be there. I think Palmer still has plenty left in the tank and there are several teams that would take a chance on him. He has always been a class act and I think he is serious about retirement

Jason from Louisville, Ky., writes: I'm a die-hard Bengals fan, and I don't see how the Bengals can move forward with Palmer. What's the best-case scenario if that happens? You drag along a player that doesn't want to be on your team, pay him a huge amount of money and decide to move on next year? The Bengals' franchise is known for burning out coaches and players alike, and Carson has been a gentleman since the day he was drafted. Do you really think he was excited to be drafted by the Bengals? Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. Let him go. Get what you can for him, thank him for his dedication to the franchise and move on.

Chris from Sandusky, Ohio, writes: Carson is my favorite Bengal of all time, but he's earned his way out by being a classy, above average QB for years. The fans feel the same way about how Mike Brown runs the team that Carson probably does, and if I were him, why not just retire? Let's get some draft picks and grab Cam Newtown -- we know he looks good in tiger stripes.

Tim from Columbus, Ohio, writes: As a lifelong Bengals fan (never wavered, either), I feel that we need to trade Carson. He's been better than every QB since Boomer Esiason, but his desire is clear. I'd rather replace him with some draft picks or other players who want to be here. Drafting a new QB or allowing Dan LeFevour to step up will only help us in the long run. I'd rather see us get some value by a trade than nothing via release or retirement.

Keep Palmer!

Alex Stuart from Omaha, Ne., writes: I think that the Bengals should try and keep Palmer for next year, because I don't think it's all his fault why he did bad. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco didn't run all there routes threw all the way. That’s why at the end of the year he started doing well because young guys like Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson stepped up. So I think they need to find a way to keep him in Cincinnati re-sign Cedric Benson and go back to the old way of Bengals smash-mouth football.

Mark from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: There are several reasons I would not trade Carson. 1.) If you give in to trade demands, other players might try the same thing. 2.) There is no one to replace him and there are no good quarterbacks coming out of the draft. 3.) The Bengals wouldn't be able you get much for him, especially with his fat contract. 4.) Out of principle I believe players need to honor their contracts, especially when they're a part of why this team is bad.

Wes M. from Athens, Ohio, writes: The best thing for the team to do is keep Palmer for one more year if he's willing to compromise. The Bengals are going to have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL next year. So maybe that could sway him. If it's Ocho that Palmer is tired of we could afford to lose Chad although it will hurt for us fans.

Jim Klein from Bonita Springs, Fla., writes: I would have to side with the Bengals. Palmer signed a contract for 14 years and he should honor that unless they trade him. He knew what he was getting into. He should be a man and live up to his commitment.

AFC North final say

James Walker: This should not come as a surprise, because we've been saying this for months. The Bengals need to blow this team up, and that includes starting over at quarterback. Cincinnati is nowhere near competing for a Super Bowl with or without Palmer. He knows this, which is why Palmer wants out. The Bengals are at least two years away from competing for a playoff spot. They won four games last year. They can do that next season without Palmer and paying him $11.5 million next season. Palmer, 31, still has enough left to help a contending team. But the notion of Palmer leading Cincinnati to a Super Bowl title, which the Bengals seem to be holding onto, just isn't going to happen.

If you have any future "Thought of the Day" ideas in the AFC North, send them to our division inbox.

Thought of the Day: Carson Palmer

February, 10, 2011
Cincinnati Bengals franchise quarterback Carson Palmer wants out in the worst way. He even put his house up for sale this week and his realtor says Palmer is never coming back. Teammates also believe Palmer will retire if he isn't traded or released.

So in this week's "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North blog, our community has a chance to play general manager of the Bengals, which is a vacant position. If you're running the team, what will you do this offseason with your unhappy quarterback?

Is Bengals ownership doing the right thing by not giving into Palmer's demands? Would you hold onto the quarterback, call his bluff, and hope that he returns this season for $11.5 million?

Or would you try and get a draft pick or two for Palmer, 31, and simply move on? The Bengals won just four games with Palmer last season. They will be rebuilding again this year and could probably have similar results without him.

Share your "Thought of the Day" comments below on what the Bengals should do with Palmer. You can also send your thoughts to our division inbox and AFC North Twitter page, and we will run the best responses throughout the week.

Thought of the Day finale: Pat Shurmur

January, 13, 2011
The Cleveland Browns are reportedly working out a deal to hire St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their fifth head coach since 1999. In our latest "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North, we surveyed the Dawgpound to get the pulse on the potential hire.

Here are a sample of responses this week from our AFC North inbox:

Brent from Great Mills, Md., writes: I feel fine about them hiring Shurmur. I've looked at all the teams he's coached and there's a connection to GM Tom Heckert. I would have preferred promoting Rob Ryan and I hope he stays on as defensive coordinator. I just want my Brownies to score and win games, period.

Eddie Kilroy from Brunswick, Ohio, writes: Why would a losing team go to another losing team for a coach? I'm not doubting Pat Shurmar's ability to be a good coordinator, but I don't think that it's the right move to make him a head coach. Cleveland is a town that wants winners. We want a coach that is hot now and can apply that to the Browns, not a coach that look fantastic because their star player makes them look good.

Matthew Yoder from Newark, Del., writes: Being a Browns fan I'm intrigued by Pat Shurmur. He did a great job with Sam Bradford this year and I believe he could be just as good for Colt McCoy. Granted, Shurmur has ZERO head-coaching experience, and to a certain extent I agree with your point about the lack of success of past hires with no head-coaching experience. But, I believe that Cleveland is in similar position to Pittsburgh and Baltimore when they hired Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh, respectively. I believe the Browns’ front office is finally not in disarray and there are competent people in place to support an inexperienced head coach.

Taylor Klein from Elizabethtown, Ky., writes: Shurmur to the Browns would not be the answer that the fan base wants. If you're going to fire a coach who had the team going before injuries killed them after only two years, you better hit a homerun. This would be the equivalent of trading away Josh Hamilton and bringing in a guy straight from AAA and then sticking him in to bat against Roy Halladay (Pittsburgh) and Cliff Lee (Baltimore). Luckily, the Bengals aren't really like a pitching ace.

Paul H Whitmore from Grand Blanc, Mich., writes: I am comfortable with Pat Shurmur for several reasons. One of those reasons has nothing to do with Pat Shurmur at all. In Holmgren we trust. Looking back on everything Holmgren has done to this point has left me confident that this organization is moving in a forward direction. If Holmgren wants Shurmur, I want Shurmur.

Brad from Cleveland writes: Shurmur would be a horrible decision. He has only been a coordinator for two years. The Browns need a head coach with heading-coaching experience. What will happen is he will come in, not meet expectations, and the team will be back here again in another two years. Only legit option for the Browns to win and win soon is Gruden or Holmgren needs to step out of the luxury box and put a headset back on.

Colin from Athens, Ohio, writes: I think Shurmur will be Holmgren's guy and could end up being his apprentice. With Mike guiding him he could do very well. You mentioned the last coaches without head-coaching experience haven't done well in Cleveland, well Mangini had that experience and he didn't do too well either.

Andrew from Clarion, Pa., writes: I've personally been a fan of hiring Mike Mularkey after seeing the job he's done with Matt Ryan down in Atlanta and the fact that he's been there for multiple successful years. With Pat Shurmur, I've only seen one year of successful development of a quarterback and that is this year with Sam Bradford. He's not the ideal hire, in my mind. But as a Browns fan I've put my faith in Mike Holmgren, and I'm going to trust him to make the right decision.

David from Nashville, Tenn., writes: All of Shurmur's success as an OC and developing a QB are simply signs that he is a good coordinator. The head job is totally different and he won't have time to tinker with a QB; he has to oversee the big picture. There is just no way of knowing if he will be a good HC until he has two years under his belt -- just like there was no way to know about Tomlin and Harbaugh. Holmgren's biggest responsibility now is to help Shurmur put together a competent staff and to keep drafting good players.

Michael from Lancaster, Ohio, writes: Unfortunately, there isn't a strong enough candidate that any Browns fan can be happy with. Jon Gruden would give Cleveland hope to cling to. John Fox would be candidate No. 2. But he is a defensive-minded coach and that hasn't been working in the past with Mangini or Crennel. Mularkey, Fewell, and Mornhinweg all have head-coaching experience and all have done poorly, Shurmur, at the very least, has a clean slate.

AFC North final say

James Walker: Based on the responses we received, most Browns fans are either not impressed or just fairly content with the potential hire of Shurmur. But only a select few are extremely excited and had Shurmur pegged as their first choice. Most AFC North blog readers are aware that I believe Mike Holmgren was the best option and most accomplished coach the Browns could've landed in this search. Holmgren was already in the building, so all he had to do was commit himself. But Holmgren, if anyone, should know what a good head coach looks and sounds like. Plus, Shurmur meshes well with Holmgren's offensive philosophies and has the ability to make rookie quarterback Colt McCoy better. As I mentioned before, winning is what matters in the NFL. And we will see in couple years if Shurmur has the Browns on top of the AFC North division, or if it will be more of the same dominance by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Thought of the Day finale: Eric Mangini

December, 10, 2010
We had another interesting "Thought of the Day" post in the AFC North blog. We looked ahead to the offseason and wondered if the Cleveland Browns (5-7) should retain head coach Eric Mangini or make a change in 2011.

[+] EnlargeEric Mangini
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeWould an 8-8 record be enough to save Eric Mangini's job?
Here are some responses from our AFC North inbox:

Zach from Ontario, Ohio, writes: I think Mangini should stay. I know that Mangini does not function things the way Mike Holmgren would, but that cannot be his deciding factor because no one would. If he wants someone who would run the team his way, take the job yourself. Mangini should stay and is doing a good job with the talent they have. I think if they all stay they can have a fantastic front office and a good head coach in place. Could be a new day dawning for us weary Browns fans!

Curtis Hicks from Billerica, Mass., writes: I'm not a Mangini fan. I actually bashed him once in a printed response here on the AFC North blog. I'm absolutely proud of the way the team has played for him and he has possibly earned the right at another season. The biggest problem with Mangini is he inherited the same bug Josh McDaniel's inherited from Bill Belichick, and that's a major issue. With that said, the fundamental difference between Holmgren and Mangini warrants a dismissal after the conclusion of the season.

Andrew from Saint Petersburg, Fla., writes: Keep him. It's clear that he's definitely doing the most with the least talent, and has done a great job with this year's rookie class in developing those players like Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, and Colt McCoy, while at the same time making the most of relatively unknown players like David Bowens, Matt Roth, and Ahtyba Rubin. Give this front office and Mangini another solid offseason to continue building, and we have a true competitor in Cleveland.

Jared from Elyria, Ohio, writes: As a Browns fan, I am torn between whether or not we should keep Mangini. He's laid a great foundation and Cleveland will never be competitive as long as they fire the coach and gut the roster every 2-4 years. On the other hand, I am very worried about the guys running the front office (Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert) believing in very different philosophies than the coach, both offensively and defensively. Remember Savage and Crennel? That was four years without a clear direction or team identity.

Jake from Youngstown, Ohio, writes: Eric Mangini will keep his job, because all he needed to do is pass last seasons record of 5-11. Right now, at 5-7 and the Bills coming up along with Cincinnati, he is in pretty good shape. Look at what he had to work with. A lot of good players except most of them got injured for a while. So with what he had to work with, he did an excellent job. The draft is coming up. So he can fill up some holes and thicken the depth chart. I think he will do great.

Ken Robinson from Fishers, Ind., writes: The Browns appear to be winning in spite of Mangini, not because of him or for him. He has made many questionable decisions and seems more intent on proving his past decisions correct than actually adjusting his approach for the team. Unless he starts learning from his mistakes and is willing to change his approach, the Browns are going to continue to be not quite good enough.

Jon Reiss from Cleveland writes: Mangini has flaws, there is no denying that. However, you can see his growth under Holmgren. Yes, they are different and came into their positions with different philosophies. But it appears Mangini has taken on the role as student quite well. If not for injuries and lack of inherited talent, these Browns might be .500 right now.

Sage Schaff from Cleveland writes: Right now I'm in favor of giving Mangini another year. A lot of analysts have been dead on in saying that the Browns have been competitive this year, but they just don't know how to win yet. The last two weeks have shown me that this team is turning the corner and learning how to finish games. Up until two weeks ago, the Browns consistently led in the fourth quarter but couldn't close it out. While the Carolina and Miami games were still fairly ugly at the end, one thing was different: Cleveland won.

AFC North final say

James Walker: Mangini is doing a better job of coaching this year. But I think Holmgren's decision is yet to be determined, so it's hard to say either way. It will come down to the team's performance in these final four games. The next two weeks are huge. The Browns have to beat the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, who are a combined 4-20. Beating the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are much stiffer challenges. But the philosophical differences are legit, because if the Browns aren't winning enough under Mangini, the people in the front office can always point to what they would do different. If Mangini finishes 8-8, he should be safe. But if he goes 7-9 or less, that would place a difficult decision in Holmgren's hands.

If you have any future "Thought of the Day" topics, send them to our division inbox or AFC North Twitter page.

Thought of the Day: Eric Mangini

December, 9, 2010
We have another interesting "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North blog. This week's topic is on the future of one of the division's head coaches.

Should Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren retain coach Eric Mangini or make a change in 2011? At 5-7, the final month of the season will be huge for Mangini, who needs to continue winning games to pad his résumé. The Browns will travel to play the Buffalo Bills (2-10) on Sunday.

Cleveland continues to play hard for Mangini and is 4-2 in its last six games. The Browns don't have nearly the same talent as other teams in the division but remain competitive and tough to beat on a weekly basis. Is that enough to bring Mangini back next year?

On the flip side, Mangini is 10-18 in his two seasons in Cleveland. There also are philosophical differences in the way Mangini and Holmgren prefer to run their teams. Therefore, is it time for Holmgren to hire his own head coach?

Share your "Thought of the Day" comments on Mangini's future with the Browns below. Or you can also send them to our division inbox and AFC North Twitter page. We will run the best responses throughout the week.
In this week's "Thought of the Day," we offered our community a chance to be offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2). We asked if the reigning division champs should be a run-first or pass-first team?

Here were the responses from our AFC North inbox:

Ryan from Indianapolis writes: The Bengals must run the ball first. Last season, one of the best they have had in a long time, the team was built on a strong run game. That same strong running game led into the play action passes. The Bengals are blinded by the new weapons at wide out. They need to get back to smash-mouth football, like the rest of the AFC North, to have a chance at the division again.

Sam from Danville writes: The Bengals should be a pass-first team. More passing plays mean more looks at each high-profile receiver, so it's less chance for a diva meltdown. Carson Palmer was effective in his three-step routes and quick passing game against the Browns. Once the passing game has the defense on its heels, hand the ball to Cedric Benson and let him loose.

Jack E. from Columbus, Ohio, writes: I think that the Bengals need to adopt the run-first mentality. This will mesh the best with what Bob Bratkowski wants to do as an OC, as well. He wants to get the ball down the field when passing and wants to have timing routes. The best way to get the ball downfield and have those timing routes is by running the ball decisively and mixing in some great play-action plays.

Rey from Cincinnati writes: Easy answer: The Bengals should be a passing team. It best fits their personnel, particularly in the no-huddle. And the fact that they aren't using the no-huddle much more, especially early on, or are making excuses not to use it such as it limits what they can do overall, is a travesty! Classic out-coaching themselves.

Jon from Phoenix writes: As a Bengals fan, I'm in disbelief that we're not scoring more points with the talent we have on offense. I think we need to throw deep more early in the games before we fall behind, which seems to have been the only way we have passed thus far this year.

Beej from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: The Bengals definitely need to go back to the run game, control the clock and give an outstanding defense a rest. I know we acquired a ton of offensive weapons in the passing game, but unfortunately Carson Palmer isn't able to elevate them to an elite passing team. Run the ball and open up the passing game, making it easier on Palmer and his weapons more deadly when used.

Josh from Louisville writes: I don't think that the Bengals can be either a run-first or a pass-first offense. The issue is not weapons or Carson Palmer, it is the offensive line. Nate Livings makes too many mental errors, Dennis Roland looks lost and overmatched in pass protection and is not moving anyone in the run game. Bobby Williams has never been a strong pass blocker and Kyle Cook has not been doing the job of creating passing lanes. Last year, the Bengals used weighted lines to make the run game go, but teams have adjusted.

Brandon from Sardinia, Ohio, writes: Run the ball. It worked last year and the Steelers have been doing it for years. That's AFC North Football. Also use Jermaine Gresham. He's a big target but they never seem to run him deep over the middle in three-receiver sets or in the red zone. He's got the talent and it's up to the Bengals not to waste it.

AFC North final say

James Walker: This is a tough one. The Bengals proved they can win last year pounding the football. But if they truly want to reach their potential this season and make a run in the playoffs, Cincinnati has to pass the ball with efficiency and use its talent at receiver and tight end. The no-huddle will help, because it keeps defensive personnel on the field -- usually a base defense -- which favors Cincinnati's passing game. The Bengals will have plenty of opportunities to run the ball late in the year when weather plays a factor and against division foes. But overall, it's time for Cincinnati to utilize all those explosive weapons in the passing game while it can.

Thought of the Day: Bengals' offense

October, 5, 2010
One of our AFC North community's favorite pastimes is to criticize offensive coordinators. So in this week's "Thought of the Day," we want Cincinnati Bengals fans to take the role of Bob Bratkowski.

In running the Bengals' offense, should Cincinnati be a run-first team or a pass-first team in 2010? This is a question Marvin Lewis, Bratkowski & Co. can't seem to figure out through the first four games.

Despite talent such as tailback Cedric Benson, receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and first-round tight end Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals lack an offensive identity. Last year, they ran their way to a division title. But now they seem confused on their mission offensively game to game, half to half and sometimes quarter to quarter.

The lack of identity and cohesion are major reasons the Bengals are 2-2 and one of the NFL's most unpredictable teams. This season they've already beat the first-place team in the AFC North (Baltimore Ravens) and lost to the last-place team (Cleveland Browns).

The talent is certainly there. So help Lewis and Bratkowski figure out an offensive identity for the remainder of the season. Share your "Thought of the Day" comments below, or send them to our division inbox and AFC North Twitter. We will run the best responses throughout the week.
Our latest version of "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North focused on the Cleveland Browns. With this division known for its sleeper teams the past two seasons, we asked if the Browns have potential to surprise in 2010.

Here are responses from our division inbox and AFC North Twitter page:

Browns are a sleeper!

Jake from Youngstown, Ohio, writes: I think the Browns can be the sleepers of the whole NFL. They have a great running game and they have a surprise for all of the teams: The new and improved wildcat with Joshua Cribbs and Seneca Wallace. Being able to run the ball and throw the ball at the same time is such a weapon. Jake Delhomme is doing fine so far and the defense is good, too. As long as the play-calls are good and Jake Delhomme doesn't do anything stupid, we will be great.

Craig from Tampa writes: Browns a sleeper? You bet. Behind a strong offensive line, they dominated on the ground to close out 2009 with four straight wins. With improvements at quarterback and throughout the secondary, this team just might find a way to compete in the brutal AFC North.

Jason Dawg from Prescott Valley, Ariz., writes: The Browns will be better than the "so-called" experts are predicting. Will they win the division? I seriously doubt it but anything is possible. A few years ago they came off a 6-10 season and expectations were very low. You'll probably remember they won 10 games.

MikeAmmo via Twitter writes: The Browns have all the makings of a sleeper. They're a tough, physical ball club full of overachievers.

Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: We know that the Browns are going to play hard and play physical. They at least have an identity now, which is more than could be said since 1999. They have arguably the best O-line in football and an up-and-coming secondary. They should at least be competitive enough to take most teams to the fourth quarters of games where anything can happen. Any given Sunday.

Browns will be sleeping!

Bryan from Baltimore writes: Simply put, no. The Browns will finish last with a 5-11 mark at best. Sorry Cleveland, just like always you're still a couple seasons away.

Bob from Midland, Texas, writes: As an avid Browns fan I would like to say "yes" to them being the sleeper, but their schedule against AFC East and NFC South is harder than what the Bengals and Ravens have had. So it looks like another 5-11 season at best.

Siz07 via Twitter writes: The entire team is a sleeper. They sleep on Sundays. Enjoy 3-13 Browns fans.

Jeremy from St. Louis writes: While I respect the Browns, I do not anticipate them being able to duplicate what the Ravens and the Bengals did. There are simply too many holes to fill. The Ravens had a stellar defense and a decent run game. The only thing they were missing was a franchise quarterback to throw the football to their receivers. The Bengals just needed to stay healthy and keep adding talent. The Brown have a decent running game but their defense will struggle at times against other AFC North teams. I don't see them making a huge improvement over last year. They'll be lucky to win a game in the division this year. However, I wouldn't be surprised if they won six or seven games.

Darnell from Halifax, Nova Scotia, writes: I can't see Cleveland as a sleeper because they are in a tough division. Even with all acquisitions this year, defensively they aren't even close to the other three teams in the division. And once the season begins, Delhomme is going to see blitzes and schemes that are out of this world.

AFC North final say

James Walker: The Browns have a chance to compete but not to the point where they will be a sleeper in the NFL. The biggest difference between Cleveland and the 2008 Baltimore Ravens and 2009 Cincinnati Bengals is talent. The Browns do not have enough on their roster at this point to win consistently. It also doesn't help that the AFC North is stacked with good teams. I'm picking the Browns to finish fourth in the division, which means the sleeper streak in the AFC North ends this year.

If you have any future "Thought of the Day" ideas for the AFC North, send them to our division inbox.
This week's "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North focused on the Cleveland Browns. We asked Browns fans if they're sold on the resurgence of quarterback Jake Delhomme after he put together a near-perfect drive in last week's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Here were the responses from our division inbox and AFC North Twitter:

Delhomme for president!

Dick B. from Berea, Ohio, writes: There was no reason to expect that Delhomme wouldn't be able to bounce back. Everybody has a bad year now and then. And let's face it, Mike Holmgren made the call to take Delhomme as the QB for the time being, and he has a pretty good track record doing so.

GW Bear from Lakewood, Ohio, writes: Jake is exactly what I hoped he would be -- a veteran presence in the huddle who will be a game manager throwing short, accurate passes with an occasional bomb. With our improved line, he should keep his uniform clean and provide needed leadership and stability.

Jon from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Delhomme is what he is: A good quarterback who will have a decent year. Browns fans are understandably skewed when it comes to outlooks on quarterbacks. If he can give us one or two years of solid veteran presence and leadership, that's just what the Browns need. I like Jake's demeanor and team concept, as well.

Scott from Cleveland writes: Whatever Jake has left in the tank at this point in his career is a lot better than Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn.

Ryan from Bowling Green, Ohio, writes: I think that Delhomme showed us that he still has some stuff left in the tank. I am not saying that he is going to have a Pro Bowl season. But I think that he can be a solid starter at quarterback and be a good example for rookie Colt McCoy.

Not buying it!

Steve from Milltown, N.J., writes: How can anyone be sold on Delhomme after one game when the very definition of his career has been STREAKY? He puts together a few nice games and you think he finally settled down, then BAM, five interceptions in a game and two or three more [bad games] to follow. I am far from sold after a decent performance in part of a MEANINGLESS game.

MWyche2 via Twitter writes: Ever since he went to the Super Bowl, Delhomme has gone downhill. I just can't back him until I see better results.

Jonathan from Willowick, Ohio, writes: I am not completely sold on Delhomme. While his performance was great against a solid defense, I'd rather hold the cheering for the regular season. More so, I want to see how he responds after he's thrown an interception and the Browns are down. Still a lot of questions regarding this team and offense. Save the cheering for the regular season Dawgpound!!!

Mike Crum from Columbus, Ohio, writes: As a Browns fan, I'd like nothing more than to be sold on Delhomme at this point. But one series of seven passes isn't enough to convince me he is going to be the answer for the Browns. While I am extremely encouraged by his play Saturday, I have been a fan too long of the Browns to get my hopes up too high when it comes to their QB.

J.P. from Erie, Pa., writes: I think Delhomme deserves a chance, but I'm not sold on anything until the regular season.

AFC North Homer of the Week

John Finley from Easley, South Carolina, writes: I am one of the guys that has been on the Jake Delhomme bandwagon since day one. We have needed a veteran QB for such a long time, and Jake is the right guy at the right time for the Cleveland Browns. I honestly think Jake will have one of his best seasons in his career. I will also go as far to say that Jake may just do what John Elway did his last two seasons in the NFL before retiring, and that is win two Super Bowls back-to-back. Jake deserves it and the Cleveland Browns loyal fans deserve it.

AFC North final say

James Walker: I had my reservations about this $7 million move coming into the season, and I still need to see more before I'm sold on Delhomme. He was inconsistent during my time in Cleveland's training camp, but perhaps he's more of a gamer. Still, it's going to take more than one series of the first preseason game to prove Delhomme is all the way back. But if Delhomme does return to form, which would make Cleveland competitive this season, credit last weekend's brief outing against Green Bay as the beginning of the vet getting his groove back.

If you have any future "Thought of the Day" ideas, send them to our AFC North inbox.
We have another interesting "Thought of the Day" for our AFC North community. This week we check in with the Dawgpound to ask if Browns fans are now sold on quarterback Jake Delhomme following a great preseason performance.

There were a lot of questions about Delhomme joining the Browns. But he carved up a very good Green Bay Packers defense Saturday in his Cleveland debut, completing 6 of 7 passes for 66 yards to lead the Browns to a touchdown on their opening drive. Delhomme was accurate and decisive, which is exactly what Cleveland's coaching staff wants.

Does Saturday's performance put Cleveland fans at ease heading into the 2010 season? Or are Browns fans still skeptical about Delhomme coming off the worst year of his career with the Carolina Panthers?

Share your "Thought of the Day" comments on Delhomme below or send them to our division inbox and AFC North Twitter page. We will run the best responses throughout the week.

Thought of the Day finale

July, 30, 2010
LATROBE, Pa.--We had another interesting topic in this week's "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North. The question is, should quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remain a team captain for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

With the Steelers reporting to training camp Thursday, players will have to vote on this issue soon. Roethlisberger was voted as one of the team's six captains last year. But recent off-the-field behavior has caused a conditional six-game suspension this season, which put the team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy.

Here are responses from our division inbox and AFC North Twitter:

Ben's not a captain!

Bill from Arlington, Va., writes: Absolutely not. A team captain needs to be a leader on and off the field. Ben has obviously failed off the field, and you can not be a leader on the field when you are suspended for the first six games.

Bill Deeds from Orange, Va., writes: Six captains on a team means 47 other players are not captains. If Ben is one of the six, that means a person who can't even play is a leader of a team that can. Why can't I be captain? My behavior is much better. I can't have direct contact with my team and neither can Ben. I guess the only qualification a person needs to be a team captain is filling a roster spot.

Johnie Johnson from San Antonio writes: Life-long Steeler fan deep in the heart of Texas. Ben should remove his name from consideration as a captain until he regains the trust of Steeler Nation, coaches and the general public.

Dustan Horst from Ephrata, Pa., writes: Ben, like any other person or player, must earn the title of captain. Leaders are always held to a higher standard than others, and therefore, he does not yet deserve the title. He must first prove that change has occurred in his own life off the field, before he is worthy of being labeled a leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rob D from Vienna, Va., writes: Even if the team voted "Big Ben" as a captain, he would be smart to decline it. Roethlisberger would show some class if he put the team before himself. He should earn the captaincy by showing dedication and teamwork, rather than having it handed to him.

Make Ben captain!

Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif. writes: If Mike Tomlin were choosing, "Big Ben" shouldn't be a captain. If the players elect him, I think that's different. Players choose which guys they want to follow, and if they team wants to follow Ben that's all that matters.

Steelers36 from Lake Charles, La., writes: I feel that he should still be a captain. It will pick his self esteem back up, and hopefully we'll make the playoffs with him in charge--and a seventh ring.

Sdpaladin via Twitter writes: Yes, he should be a captain. The team knows he needs their support and their votes will show they have his back.

Mtidmore via Twitter writes: It's about on-the-field leadership. It would give Ben confidence to be honored by his teammates. Silly way to punish him.

Mike from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, writes: For Ben's continued growth and image rehab I think he should remain a captain. From all that I've read from his teammates' quotes I think he'll get voted in again.

AFC North final say

James Walker: It's entirely on the team to decide who leads them this year. It's an internal issue that can only be determined by Pittsburgh's players in the locker room. So I'm staying out of this one.

If you have any future “Thought of the Day” topics, send them to our AFC North inbox.
It's an interesting issue that will be addressed soon. But we will first open the discussion to our community in this week's "Thought of the Day."

Should starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remain a captain this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers? He was one of six team captains voted by his teammates last year, and the Steelers will have another team-wide vote coming up soon once players report on Friday.

Roethlisberger is clearly a tough and deserving leader on the field. But his recent off-the-field behavior has caused embarrassment to the organization and led to a conditional six-game suspension that's put Pittsburgh's playoff hopes in jeopardy. Roethlisberger will be with the team throughout training camp, and it will be interesting to see if teammates back him with a vote of confidence.

But right now the vote is yours, Steeler Nation. Should Roethlisberger remain a team captain this season or has he lost that right?

Send your "Thought of the Day" comments below, or to our division inbox and Twitter page. We will run the best responses throughout the week.

Thought of the Day finale

May, 25, 2010
We had a very interesting "Thought of the Day" topic this week in the AFC North blog. It asked which team do you feel I'm homer for and why?

There seems to be conversations about this all the time on the blog. So I thought now would be a good time to have a little fun with it and open the floor.

Here are responses from our AFC North community along with a final say on the matter:

Josiah from Baltimore writes: We all know you love the Ravens. You grew up in Hyattsville, and you make it quite clear who you like the most. I would have to say that almost 90% of the blog entries you write about the Ravens have a positive connotation. You pick the Ravens even when every other analyst would say they will get blown out. There is an apparent sense of inner hopes that the Ravens will take it all. No one cares if you currently reside in Cleveland.

Jay writes: You're definitely a Ravens homer. You seem to be very high on them like everyone else is while you are shoving the Bengals to the dirt when the Bengals beat them twice last year. Everyone including you praised the Ravens for their offseason moves when the Bengals have done just as well, if not better. You and everyone else praised the Ravens for drafting an overweight NT in Terrence Cody and a LB with "injury concerns" [Sergio Kindle]. I guarantee you if the Bengals had done that they would have been ripped for it.

AJ from Baltimore writes: James Walker is a Baltimore homer since he grew up in Maryland and the majority of his stories (not including evening links) are Ravens. Plus he has to go-get'm Baltimore Attitude.

Zach from Washington D.C. writes: You are definitely a homer for the Steelers. I don't know if it's me, but there seems to be more Steeler posts than any other team. I get sick hearing about the Steelers over and over again.

Matt Miselis via Twitter writes: In all seriousness, you seem to be a Steelers homer, as you have been on their bandwagon or quite a while.

Nick from Cincinnati writes: You're a homer for the Steelers. I know they have a fabulous organization and all, but really are they that differently run than the Bengals? On the one hand you caution that Andre Smith really needs to step up or risk being a bust. While on the other you make grand pronouncements that Maurkice Pouncey will be a Pro Bowler for the Steelers before he's even played a preseason game. All the while reminding us of Troy Polamalu's rookie year. Seems like you're giving the Steelers more than a slight benefit of the doubt.

(Editor's note: The Pouncey blog was written by Scouts Inc. See for yourself.)

Bob M from Dallas writes: I don't think you are in the tank for any one team in the AFC North, but it is obvious that you hate the Steelers. You have delighted in the disappointing results from last year and the controversy in the off season, while minimizing any positive aspect of the team or the organization as a whole. You don't need to fawn over the Steelers, or any team for that matter, but a little respect for the top franchise in football for the last 40 years would be nice.

Joel from Hagerstown, M.d., writes: You definitely favor the Browns in your discussions because you talk about them the most (Steelers are a close second). I've always assumed it was out of sympathy. But I've always been ok with that. Cleveland needs at least one fan.

Dusty from Dublin, Ohio, writes: You are definitely a Browns fan. I can tell by your, though mostly subtle, pessimism concerning the team's chances. While fans of other teams mock the Cleveland Browns, true Browns fans retain their hopes while outwardly preparing themselves for the worst. I see a hint of this in your writing, which makes me conclude that you spend most of your Sunday evenings during the fall shaking your head in disbelief along with the entire Browns fan community.

Tina from Baltimore writes: I can hear the sympathy and silent rooting for Cleveland in your blog.

AFC North Final Say

James Walker: The fact that people feel I'm a homer for various teams means I'm not being a homer for anyone. I've always said that this is a "zero homerism blog." Things constantly evolve in the NFL, but I will call it how I see it at the present time. When a team does well, I point that out. When a team does poorly, I point that out, too.

Go Temple Owls!

Thought of the Day: Homer debate

May, 24, 2010
At various points in the past two years, I've been called a Cleveland Browns homer, a Baltimore Ravens homer, a Pittsburgh Steelers homer and a Cincinnati Bengals homer by our AFC North community. Sometimes I'm even labeled a homer for two or three different teams by the same reader, which is both comical and confusing.

But occasionally I like to make fun of myself, and this is certainly one of those times.

So in our latest version of "Thought of the Day," it's open season on your AFC North blogger. Which team do you feel I'm a homer for and why?

Do not come weak on this one, AFC North fans. I want your best case for why you believe I'm a homer for the Browns, Ravens, Steelers or Bengals. As I mentioned earlier, naming multiple teams automatically kills your argument.

So let me have it. Send your "Thought of the Day" comments below or to our division inbox and AFC North Twitter. We will run the best responses throughout the week.

And gooooo [insert team here]!