Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's talk about the AFC North.
James, love reading your coverage of the AFCN! Obviously the Steelers run game is in dire straights, but would Redman be able to make a difference if the offensive line doesn't improve their run blocking? That said, it was not the lines fault that Mendenhall seemed confused about where he was going on (at least) the play where he collided with Roethlisberger and even FWP seemed off his game.
James Walker (4:01 PM)
I've only suggested that Pittsburgh bring up Isaac Redman only for short-yardage situations. Pittsburgh has three guys who can carry the load, and someone should get hot eventually. But I don't think any of them are particularly good in short-yardage and goal-line runs.
Simon Hunter (Manchester, UK)
James, I am rather worried fan of the Bengals. If the "immaculate deflection" had happened to the Ravens or Steelers, I believe they have the veteran leadership and strong head coaches to deal with it, should I feel bad for thinking that I dont think the Bengals can come back from this?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Have faith in your team, Simon. It's only Week w. I consider Cincinanti a talented team, but I wouldn't call the Bengals a mentally strong team. Really, they just need to play smarter, particularly on the road. Green Bay is a tough Week 2 matchup for them.
Darrell (North Carolina)
After week 1, what should Ravens fans be worried about most the secondary, lack of consistent QB pressure, or special teams?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Definitely special teams, Darrell. It's been an issue dating back to last year. John Harbaugh is a former special teams coach and takes the third phase very serious. But for some reason he hasn't been able to figure that out in Baltimore yet.
Hello Mr. Walker, I am much enthused by your blog.I felt good about how the Browns played the first half of the game against an elite team (Vikings) so, if the Browns can find a way to play consistently like the first half of the Minnesota game how likely are they to go .500 or better?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
I don't believe the Browns will be a .500 team, Ryan. The Minnesota Vikings' game didn't change my mind on that either. Cleveland has to play near-perfect to have a chance on most weeks and I don't see the Browns playing near-perfect football for eight games. That's very hard to do.
Greg (Fort Worth, TX)
The Bills lost due to a player who was selfish and interested in personal gain; not thinking of the team. McKelvin needs to be fired!
James Walker (4:09 PM)
They won't cut Leodis McKelvin. But it was silly of him to run the ball out with no blocking, because the hands team was on the field. Something I learned early in the NFL is that good teams usually find a way to win and bad teams usually find a way to lose. I see that happen often.
blkandgold1969 (Corpus Christi, TX)
Do you think the Steelers problems running the football stem more from poor o-line play (missed assignments, mental mistakes) or Willie Parkers' poor play (indeciveness, getting arm tackles)?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
It's just one game, but in that one game I saw both being an issue. There weren't many holes and Willie Parker wasn't hitting the seams hard or breaking many tackles. If one or the other improves next week, I think you will see progress. There's nowhere to go but up when Pittsburgh as a team averages 1.6 yards per carry.
Stukes (Nokesville VA)
Hey JW, prior to watching the Ravens play the Chiefs i never would have thought that Flacco could throw for 300 . Is this that how below average the Chiefs pass defense is or is Mr Cool going to be doing this more often? And on another note, the Ravens O Line was incredible.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
If you read the AFC North blog long enough, those readers would know that I've always like what I saw in Joe Flacco. I think he is one of those gifted quarterbacks physically where he can make every throw. He is more athletic than he looks, and his mental makeup is very calm, which is what you need at that position. I don't know how high his ceiling is, but he's going to be a good quarterback for Baltimore.
Hey James, Love the blog read it everyday. What are the chances of the Ravens signing cmac back? Thanks.
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Very slim, Matt. The Ravens have already moved on and Chris has to prove that he is healthy after last year's knee injury.
James, with the Steelers being undefeated so far, how much of a chance do you think they have of matching the season of the '72 Dolphins?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Nope. No team will go undefeated this year.
Russ (Charlotte, NC)
Do you think Andre Smith will see any playing time this year for the Bengals?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
This year? Sure. The Bengals drafted him No. 6 overall to play football. It's possible he could see time this month, but he is really behind on everything. The Bengals need him to play well.
Jason (Avon, OH)
You haven't really said what you thought about Quinn. I thought he played well with the exception of the fumble. the interception was a well thrown ball on a miscommunication thats probably the result of the QB competition and not enough reps. and I'm ok with it. it won't happen once they get continuity developed. what'd you think?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I don't think Brady Quinn played well enough to win the game. But he wasn't the reason the Browns lost to the Minnesota Vikings.
JW,what did you think of willie gay against the titans. They seemed to pick on him. Is he not as advertised?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Teams are going to pick on Gay. We saw that in the preseason. We will find out if he can step up soon with Troy Polamalu out.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
A different twist on an old question: who is the best safety in Cincinnati's crowded backfield? and why
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I thought you lived in Pittsmore Troy Reed? Oh well. Comparing Cincinnati's safeties is difficult because they have different strengths. Chris Crocker may be the best all around, but I like Chinedum's coverage skills as well. He always seems to be around the football, something you know how to do very well, Troy Reed.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Collins was actually very efficient against the Steelers (his bottom stat line was only 81.1 passer rating, but he had 4 dropped passes and the INT was more of a great play by Polamalu than a poor throw). Are the Steelers more vulnerable this year against the pass, not taking into account the Polamalu injury?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
You have to take into account the Troy Polamalu injury, because that's when Tennessee started to put up points. The Steelers will drop a notch but they will still be a very good unit without Polamalu. I think it's going to be a simpler defense, because Tyrone Carter can't do many of the things Troy can.
I know it's early, but after week one, who do you like: PIT or BAL?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Way too early. I picked Pittsburgh to win the division in the preseason. But I'm going to wait until November and December to pick individual games in this rivalry. I'm making my division picks for Week 2 on Friday. Tough week with every team on the road.
Riddle: I turned over half my roster, replaced my coaching staff, my GM
James Walker (4:29 PM)
"Pittsmore Troy Reed" LOL. You love us it, James. Admit it.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Maybe it's Ed Polamalu who lives in Pittsmore. I forget.
Should Davis start over Jamaal Lewis in Cleveland? Lewis looks just about done.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I don't think you watched the Vikings-Browns game close enough. Lewis ran well and averaged 5.2 yards per carry Sunday. The Browns fell behind and went away from him in the second half.
Hey James, I know that your an AFC North guy, but Im deperate for answers. Do you see the Panthers trading some one like Julius Peppers to get a First round pick and a Franchise QB?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
No, Cody. Blockbuster deals like trading Julius Peppers rarely happens in season. Even the Richard Seymour deal right before the start of the Week 1 was a rarity.
Who do you feel should be the Browns #2 Wide reciever? Watching the Vikings game it didn't look like the recievers were doing much, Braylon had a great catch on an almost-touchdown but other than that they were very quiet.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Josh Cribbs is getting a lot of run there. I like Cribbs, because he's a great football player. But I don't think he's a No. 2 receiver. I'm not sure the Browns have a solid No. 2 receiver on their roster right now. High draft picks Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi don't look ready yet, which is part of the problem.
Michael Crabtree (my agent's office)
Hey James, you think you could use a partner running the AFC North blog this season? All I will need is Sportscenter anchor money, and I'm there!
James Walker (4:39 PM)
You have millions sitting on the table and you love playing football. The decision is a no-brainer. Join your team.
Rob N. (Detroit)
PLEASE make me feel better about detroit...
James Walker (4:40 PM)
They have wonderful suburbs.
Do you think Santanio will be a 1000 yard reciever this year?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
If the first game was any indication, this is Holmes' year Jason. The Steelers won't give Holmes as many opportunities as other receivers, so he has to take advantage of every play. That was his problem in the past, but he seems to be making the routine plays as well so far.
Rob N. (Detroit)
lol. indeed. however the team... can Matthew and MEGAtron lead us to the promise land?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Detroit has wonderful suburbs.
How long do think Eric can change the Browns into a playoff contender if he can?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Tom, it won't happen this year and really that's as far as I try to look in the NFL. Rosters change so much with draft picks, free agency and injuries, that it doesn't make sense to look 2-3 years down the road.
Ben (Durham, NC)
Hey James, do you think the Ravens will still go with a RB-by-committee approach or is Ray Rice the established starter while McGahee and McLain are more change-of-pace and short yardage backs?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Cam Cameron is the type of offensive coordinator who goes with the hot hand. Sometimes Ray Rice will be hot and a better weapon against the defense. Sometimes the Ravens will need to grind it out with Willis McGahee or Le'Ron McClain. My guess is this week will be a grind-it-out game against San Diego.
Take a hint Rob N.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Thanks, Chuck. I'm trying to say something nice about the Detroit Lions.
matt (spokane, wa)
Has anyone ever dopped passed more spectacularly than Braylon Edwards?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Ever? I'm not sure. But Edwards did lead the NFL in drops last year. I think he's going to be more consistent this season but I'm not sure Cleveland's offense can get him the football enough.
Try saying something nice about the Browns! This is an AFC North chat.
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Joshua Cribbs and Shaun Rogers are two extremely good players. I would take them on my team anytime.
James Walker (4:50 PM)
And Cleveland has pretty good suburbs. I live in one of them.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
I forgot about Joe Thomas, another great player. I would take him, too.
Matt (Madrid, Spain)
Do you think LJ Smith has a chance to make an impact for the Ravens this season?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
L.J. Smith has to get on the field first, Matt. His rep has always been injury-prone, and right now he's dealing with a bad hamstring. Joe Flacco looked great Sunday and there's nothing wrong with adding a new weapon.
3-6 weeks without #43 will the steelers be ok?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
The Steelers will be ok. I don't know their next six opponents off-hand. But they do have a winnable game coming up at Chicago. Pittsburgh just needs to take it week-by-week.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
JW: I thought for sure a Monday morning story was going to be about the "resurgent Bengals" after they beat a very bad Broncos team. Not only was I wrong, is there any excuse for an offense with Palmer, 85, Henry, and Benson not to score more than 7pts? Is the Bengals O-line THAT bad?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
The Bengals made a lot of mistakes, Shane. Receivers dropped balls, there were penalties, sacks, a botched field goal. It was pretty ugly. Talent-wise, they are fine, but they need to do a major cleanup job and play better, smarter.
Can you say something non-football related good about Pittsburgh.
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Downtown is beautiful at night.
Jon (San Diego)
How did Alex Mack hold up against the Vikings defense?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
I thought Mack did well, relatively speaking. As I mentioned earlier, Jamal Lewis had some success running early. But falling behind prevented the Browns from sticking to it in the second half. The pass protection (five sacks allowed) was shaky. But I didn't expect a perfect performance.
James Walker (5:02 PM)
Everyone, thank you kindly for your time. Check out the AFC North blog for constant updates on your favorite teams. We're going to have a lot of fun with the blog this year.