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 (4:01 PM)
Hello everyone. Welcome to the AFC North chat. Let's get started.
Kevin (Lothian, MD)
What is to blame for the Ravens drop off in the last two games the players or the coaching?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
That's a good question and I'm not sure it can be pointed in just one direction. Really, I think Baltimore has many of the same issues it had two weeks ago. The Ravens couldn't stop the pass then, except now they've played against better teams in New England and Cincinnati which were able to use it to pull out close games.
James, love your insight. I was just wondering if Bengals fans might get an oppurtunity to see Chase Coffman or Jerome Simpson help out at all this year? If Coats could catch the Ravens game wouldn't even have been close.
James Walker (4:06 PM)
It's not looking good for those two at the moment, Pete. Cincinnati's receivers are very deep and don't need Simpson, who has struggled since the day he arrived. Coffman may be able to help, but he doesn't look ready from what I've seen. He's more of a project that still needs to develop.
Steve (Mason City, IA)
Why hasn't Brad St. Louis been replaced yet? I know he was solid before this season but 5 bad snaps in 4 games?!? We're very lucky he hasn't cost us a game.
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Long snapper is a hard position to find, Steve. They don't grow on trees and 32 of them are already employed. The Bengals are searching. They have one in a funk right now and I'm not sure if he can get out of it. But before that he's had nine very good seasons.
Daniel (Los Angeles)
James,Do the Steelers have enough depth to replace Aaron Smith?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
It depends how long he will be out. Mike Tomlin said it was potentially significant, which means it could be a while or possibly season-ending. Everyone is waiting for the test results. If it's short-term, I think Pittsburgh will be fine. If it's the entire season, it could be a problem.
Simon (Manchester, UK)
JDub...What do you think is the main reason for the number of close games the Bengals have been having?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I think the Bengals are still sloppy at times to the point where they can't put teams away. A fumble here, a big penalty there, just different things that kill drives and keeps opponents in games. Cincinnati really outplayed Baltimore Sunday, but still trailed in the final minutes.
Craig (Lwood, OH)
Do you think Brady Quinn has taken his last snap as a Brown?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I finally figured out "Lwood" was Lakewood, Craig. I don't hang out there very much obviously. Injury or performance could always give Quinn another shot. Derek Anderson wasn't all that impressive last week, so I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility with so many games left in the season.
Is Ray Rice now Baltimores best overall player? and will he be used more in the coming games?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Ray Rice is not Baltimore's best overall player, Dan. But I do expect him to get more carries. He's averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. It doesn't make sense not to give him the football.
Two close loses by the Ravens don't really bother me. The pass rush bothers me. Little to no rush exposes the weakness in the secondary. Landry and Foxworth are mediocore at best. What could the Ravens do to get a better rush?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
That's a major question in Baltimore, Magnew. The secondary isn't covering and the pass rush isn't getting through. If neither works, there's not much you can do. I think Baltimore has the potential to rush better, but the players up front have to start winning their one-on-one matchups like they often did in the past.
Dan (Buffalo, NY)
JW, did DA just become a trivia answer with his two completions AND the win Sunday? That may have been the worst game I've ever watched, and as a Browns fan thats saying something
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Watching the win over Buffalo was worst than watching three of Cleveland's blowout losses?
Kelley Washington (Baltimore)
When am I getting moved up to the number 2 spot?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Thanks for the interview last week Kelley. The Ravens need a speed threat on the outside, which is why Mark Clayton remains the starter. Baltimore just signed David Tyree today, so that says something about the Ravens trying to find another threat.
Scott (Bakersfield,CA) [via mobile]
Do you think Pittsburghs O-line will cost them the playoffs?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
The Steelers o-line has improved since an awful performance in Week 1. The running game is back for the first time in a long time, and Ben Roethlisberger is back there completing 73.8 percent of his passes. Everyone knows I've often questioned this unit, but let's give the line some credit when credit is due.
if the browns go 1-15 or 2-14 do the fire mangini, and do they draft a quarterback in the first round.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Let's stop the fire Eric Mangini talk, at least here with me and the AFC North blog. I've seen it written in other places and it's not going to happen. No one fires a coach after one season into a new regime. It takes time. It's hard to say what the team will draft in April at this point. Cleveland has a lot of needs and could go best available.
Scott (Bakersfield,CA) [via mobile]
Do you think Carson Palmer will get back in the same group as Manning and Brady?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I don't think Carson Palmer was ever in the same group as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He was always in the next tier. Palmer is healthy and he's playing well, but I think Brady and Manning are still in their own group. There are several others (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger IMO) nipping at their heels as the pair gets older, though.
Charlie (Richmond, KY)
JW, love your blog! Best one out there by far. I think I really see 3 teams from the AFC North getting into the playoffs this year. If Pitt, Cincinnati, and Baltimore end up splitting, I see each team with 10 or 11 wins.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
33 wins for the division? Wow. And that's not even including whatever the Browns contribute. That would be extremely difficult, Charlie. I just don't see three 11-win teams.
I am a Bengals fan but the bengals need to stop playing to their competition and start playing to their potential instead of the other team's.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
The Bengals are winning close, but they're winning John. Enjoy it. They are a hard-working group and there hasn't been enough of that in your part of town.
Brian (Loveland, OH)
The Bengals are in danger of having the game blacked out this Sunday? That's absolutely insane! Everybody in the country is talking about this team and the hometown doesn't even want to go to the game. Is this the city's problem or the team's problem, and what's the answer?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
The disconnect between ownership and the city is well-known, Brian. I think that has something to do with it. And Cincinanti in the offseason was unable to sell a lot of season tickets because of last year. So the Bengals are counting on a lot of "walk-up" tickets this year, and in a bad economy fans may pass week to week.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
Who is the better 3-2 team for me to stay on?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Hey Troy Reed. I think Baltimore needs your help more this week against Minnesota than Pittsburgh will playing the Browns.
Travis (Cincinnati, OH)
When do you see Bernard Scott being given a bigger role in the Bengals offense? Based on what he's shown so far, he's obviously got home-run hitter potential in this league.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Cedric Benson has the hot hand right now and is leading the NFL in rushing. So it's smart for the Bengals to stay with that for now. Brian Leonard also has done well catching out of the backfield, so there hasn't been many opportunities for Scott.
RAY GORDON REID ( COLLEGE PARK MARYLAND 20742)
QUESTION TO JAMES WALKER AT 4 .20PM HI JAMES CAN RAVENS WIN AGAINST BRETT SUNDAY
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Sure, the Ravens can win against Minnesota Sunday. Baltimore has the type of talent that could give the Vikings trouble. As far as picking the game, I will do so in the blog later in the week.
Bengals ever gonna win a game before the final drive? Maybe this week they'll be able to put the texans away early at home?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
This might be the week. But I thought the Cleveland game would be the week, too.
Charlie (Richmond, KY)
Speaking of predictions James, will you please keep picking against the Bengals? It seems to be working for them!!!
James Walker (4:45 PM)
I got more on that later this week, Charlie. A nice little surprise for Bengals fans this Friday.
Alan (Orange County, CA)
Any chance Shaun Rogers gets moved for picks this week?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
I think the Browns will consider moving several players, but Rogers would be a bit surprising. He's too good to trade on the cheap, which is probably what teams would offer at this point of the season.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
You gotta read the article that Peter King just posted about the Browns.
James Walker (4:50 PM)
What's up Wolf. I'll check it out. Are you in class right now or not? If so get out of here and pay attention.
Brian (Greensboro, NC)
Worried about Andre Johnson this week, will Hall be able to contain him like he did Jennings and Edwards?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
Andre Johnson is a cut above Braylon Edwards and Greg Jennings. But it will be interesting.
sam (washington, dc)
HI James. I really like your column. Can you PLEASE tell me why Brad St. Louis is still on the Bengals? He's blown SO MANY snaps (multiple per game). I can barely watch them kick a field goal. I know people feel bad for him, but I don't know if they can take it any longer.
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Sam, it's not easy to find long snappers. The Bengals are searching but there are only so many people that specialize in that job. I explained it a little earlier.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
My class got moved back and starts at 5PM now, so until class starts I'm here every Tuesday!!
James Walker (4:54 PM)
James, Your number one fan from the South is here. Now that Braylon is gone, what excuse are the Browns going to use for dropped passes?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Thanks, Vinnie. Blame the wind. Just kidding. The Browns need to catch the football. Derek Anderson doesn't throw the most catchable ball though. Everything is a rocket.
Vincent Jackson (SD)
hi baltimore. Please sign me in the offseason. Thanks,
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Why couldn't Braylon perform the way he did last night vs. the Dolphins in Cleveland. If he thinks things will be easier in New York, he is crazy. Poor Braylon got a raw deal in Ohio because he was from Michigan. Please! I hope the New York media eats him alive.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Edwards has always been a "bright lights" player. I expected him to show up in a big Monday night game. The Jets are going to need to keep him focus on Sundays at 1 p.m. That was often his biggest issue.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks everyone for your time. I will be back next week and don't forget to continue reading the AFC North blog.