Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Everyone is over looking the ravens and does anyone realize if not for a bad call against the Titans we would have beaten them?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Hey Kevin. It's a no excuse league, and really, a lot of teams could say "if" when it comes down to a couple plays in the fourth quarter. The Chargers lost to the Broncos earlier this year on a tough call. Things happen in a league with so many close games.
HammerinHines from Georgia of course
Do Lamar Woodley and James Harrison finish the season with 20 sacks per?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Are you projecting 20 sacks each? I think that may be pushing it. Both guys would have to stay healthy all year and not have any bad games. It's hard to do that for 16 straight games.
Bake, Cleveland, OH
Who do you think were these "men who need to check their egos at the door," per Jamal Lewis?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Good question, Bake. Being around the team a lot, I can say I have a pretty good idea. But also being a reporter, I wouldn't write or say it unless I knew 100 percent the players in question.
Raymond: College Park, MD
Hi again James! What a game this upcoming weekend with the Ravens playing at the Giants. Who do you think has the better "three-headed monster" - The Ravens (McGahee, Rice, McClain) or the Giants (Jacobs, Ward, Bradshaw)?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
What's going on in CP? I'd give the edge to the Giants. Their group seems a little more explosive in terms of power and big-play ability. Plus New York's line that is blocking for the Giants' backs is probably the best in the NFL.
Robert (Monrovia, Ca)
Is RAC gone at the end of the season?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
It will depend on how the team finishes the year. Romeo Crennel's seat is getting very hot though. With the way the Browns are playing right now, it doesn't look very good.
Bob, New York, NY
If you were to say there were "men who need to check their egos at the door," who would you be talking about?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
C'mon Bob. You're throwing out a trick question. I'm not falling for it. It's not good to name names unless you know for sure. And Jamal Lewis isn't saying so.....
Keith (Austin, TX)
Is Derrick Mason going to suit up on Sunday with his seperated shoulder?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
Mason's status is in question, Keith. The Ravens are going to need him to beat the Giants. We will know more by Friday.
Arjan (Baltimore, MD)
Love the blog James, keep it coming. It seems like you are one of few writers who do see the Ravens as a contender to say the least. Even though we haven't played the elite teams yet, we have momentum on our side as well as a confidence we haven't seen in the offense. I think this team is about to make a statement over the next few weeks, facing the Giants, Eagles, Steelers Cowboys and Redskins. I (cross fingers) think we can win all of them. How likely do you consider that thought?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Arjan, I doubt the Ravens will sweep the NFC East. I'm not sure anyone, including the Tennessee Titans, could accomplish that feat. Baltimore is a solid team. I liked the Ravens when I saw them in mini-camp because I thought Flacco looked like an NFL QB. But don't get too pumped up. A split against the NFC East would be a solid feat.
Crash- Newport News, VA
I was hearing rumors of a multi-year contract extension for Ray Lewis was almost completed. Do you know any of the details or if it's just a rumor. Also- Where do you see Chris McAlister next season-- could he be a salary cap casualty?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Hey Crash. I checked on that about a week ago and was told Ray Lewis and the Ravens haven't had any significant negotiations since August. But things could pick up later in the season and definitely in the off-season.
Jesse (Raleigh, NC)
Who decided the Browns should play the 3-4? Is this Crennel or Savage?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Because Crennel was a 3-4 coach, the Browns went with that defense because it is his specialty.
Cliff from New York City
Hey James. Why aren't the Ravens ranked higher on ESPN's Power Rankings? The Cards barely beat the 49ers last night, and although the Colts beat the Ravens earlier this year they've been less consistent and don't have the Ravens' 4 game winning streak. Is a win over the Giants the only thing Baltimore can do to earn respect? Or if that happens will the Giants be given another mulligan (Browns)?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
I thought the Ravens deserved a top 10 ranking. I had them at No. 9. I feel it's a combination of not beating an elite team to date, and the fact Baltimore's four straight wins are being overshadowed by Tennessee's undefeated run in the AFC.
James, have you heard anything about Lamar Woodley's status this week. The D seemed to miss him against the colts. great blog!
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I attended Mike Tomlin's press conference today and he sounded optimistic about his return. Woodley worked out Monday and looked better, Tomlin said. My guess is that he suits up but we probably won't know until Thursday or Friday. Thanks for the kind words.
Jay (Mt. Airy, MD)
Hey James, it is looking more and more like Rex Ryan may land a head coaching job either next year or the year after. Who on the Ravens staff would be the likely successor as def. coordinator? Thanks and keep up the good work.
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Good question, Jay. I'm not sure about a successor. It's way too early for that. But it's not too early to deem Rex Ryan as a solid head coaching candidate for next year. My guess is he gets a new post.
Matt (Arlington, VA)
James - Which NFC East team does Baltimore best match up with? My thought is the Redskins (especially in Baltimore) - the Steelers game showed what can happen when the 'Skins face a good run defense that can neutralize Portis and have to rely on Campbell to win it. 2nd question - do the Ravens have to win more than 1 NFC East game to go to the playoffs?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
I would agree, Matt, as long as we're both considering Dallas has a healthy Tony Romo when Baltimore plays the Cowboys.
Matt (Columbia, MD)
James, Todd Heap finally came around last week with some TD catches. How big of a game must he have in order for the Ravens to win in NY this weekend?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Heap is important, especially if Mason cannot go. Keep in mind Baltimore is using him as a blocker a lot more often, and that will be important against New York's pressure packages as well.
Jesse (Raleigh, NC)
From your contact with the Browns players and staff, how is the team adapting to Brady? Last week there was a mixed sentiment to DA's benching and you could see the team did not support it in their performance.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
There were mixed feelings last week about a quarterback change. Most players in that locker room didn't feel everything should have been put on Derek. But they had no choice but to move on, and I think that's what they're doing. Brady helped himself, too, by having a good performance.
Jeff (Dayton, OH)
So, what do you think the Bengals record will read at the end of the year? Everyone said they couldn't win a game until they saw the Browns again. Think they can pull 3 or 4 more out this year?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I was asked this on ESPNews a few weeks ago, and I predicted they would finish with two wins. I'm still holding onto that prediction.
Daniel (Dallas, TX)
James will the Giants be able to run on the Ravens and vice versa with both teams relying so much on the rush?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
I'm having trouble seeing anyone run against the Ravens. New York struggled against the Steelers and I expect the same. Those two teams are the best run stuffers in the NFL.
Nick, Tallahassee, FLA
What are the odds of a Crennel firing and Cowher hiring int he offseason for the Browns?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
I think the odds of Romeo Crennel losing his job are much better than Bill Cowher replacing him.
Rob (Lynbrook, NY)
Hey James...if and when the steelers get healthy do you not see them as a legitmate contender in the AFC?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I see them as a contender in the AFC right now. A lot of it hinges on Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder. He cannot continue to play the way he's playing the past three games for the Steelers to win in the playoffs.
Paras (Baltimore, MD)
James, the Ravens' opponents record is 37-44 while the Giants' opponents record is 32-49. The Giants are the better team record wise, but have also encountered worse competition.
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Ok, where are you going with this?
Greg (Rochester, NY)
Do the Bengals try to sign Cedric Benson going into next year? He's been way better than Chris Perry and the Bengls need to use draft picks on o-line and d-line.
James Walker (4:43 PM)
It depends on how he finishes, Greg. Benson is in a tryout mode for 2009 right, as many Bengals are.
Can anyone beat the G-Men?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
The Giants have one loss this year to the Browns. Anybody can lose in the NFL.
Alex, (Los Angeles, CA)
Hey James - Could we expect a gun slinging shootout in the Giants/Ravens game on Sunday...both teams can stop the run, but do you think it could come down to who throws the best?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
I actually view this game going in the opposite direction. I see a low-scoring game in the 20s and teens, similar to the Giants-Steelers game, which was 21-14.
I had high hopes for Sean Jones when the Browns drafted him, but it just hasn't worked out. What are your thoughts?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Sean Jones' knee injury really bothered him before and after surgery. He's still not 100 percent and it's evident in his play. This is a really big stretch for him because he will be a free agent, and my guess is the Browns do not re-sign him.
Alex from College Park, MD
James, what can the Ravens do to keep Rex Ryan where he is?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Not much. Rex Ryan probably deserved to be a head coach a couple of years ago. His defenses have been consistently good for a long time. I think the Ravens realize that also and will let him seek career advancement as a head coach.
Scott (Leesburg VA)
James, do you see the Giants abandoning the running game early like the Texans did if it isn't working? Also, do you think this would be bad for the Ravens if they come out passing a lot against our weakened secondary?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
I think it's going to be a competitive game for at least three quarters. So both teams should be able to have the run as a option throughout the game.
So James, since the season is over (for us Browns fans) who are we looking at to replace the recently fired Coach Crennel? Lane Kiffin perhaps? I know he fueded with Skeletor out in Oakland, but anyone who fights with Al Davis can't be all bad, right?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I have not heard of any interest in Lane Kiffin, Matt. Plus, Romeo Crennel is still the head coach and has an opportunity to turn it around, although it looks doubtful.
Drew (Hollywood, Florida)
Who is your pick for coach of the year so far?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans. That's a pretty easy choice.
Rob T (Lynbrook, Ny)
Hello again James...i say the steelers win the next 2 against SD and Cin to bring them to 8-3...the next 5 oppenents are then @NE, Dall, @Balt, @Tenn, Cle....do you think 11-5 gets them a bye?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
If the Steelers finish 11-5 like you project, Rob, then they should get a bye. The AFC West champ will have a single-digit win total and I don't see the AFC East champ having more than 11 wins, because they will all beat each other up.
Do you think Tomlin will rest Ben if he doesn't get in a full week and start Bryon? If he does do you think he sits him during the Bengals week too since it's short that week?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
I think Mike Tomlin learned a valuable lesson about the importance of getting in practice reps for Ben Roethlisberger. He's probably the one player they would allow to play without much--or any--work. But after his performances lately, that thinking is starting to change.
PJ Charlotte, NC
James - great work on the blog! As a Browns fan I'm already scouting the draft - seems to me an impact ILB, CB, or Safety would be necessary in mid to early first round thoughts?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
The Browns should go linebacker first and foremost, especially if they decide to still run a 3-4 in 2009.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Hey guys, thanks for the time as always. I have to get going on some more projects I'm working on. Check me out tonight on ESPNews at 8:45 p.m. for more discussions on the AFC North. Talk to you soon.