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 (3:59 PM)
Hello everyone. Things are always interesting in the AFC North. So let's discuss.
James, set me straight. Is Randy Lerner a noted cheapskate or not? I mean, I don't want to disparage a billionaire, but are we as Browns fans stuck with Mangini because Lerner can't find a reason to get out of his mistake without having to actually pay for it? (Oh, and if he wants to fire Mangini with cause, he should just get game tape of the last few weeks. That'll do it.)
James Walker (4:01 PM)
Randy Lerner isn't cheap. He's put a lot of money into the team and its players. If anything, I think it's more fair to say he's mishandled how he spends his money with the Browns, because things haven't worked out.
Sean Beardow (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
Given that the Browns are pretty much a lock for a top 5 pick, do they go QB in the draft or are they better off continuing to build a core then add a QB later?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Sean, I've said recently that I haven't been impressed with this year's QB class. Things can change before next April. But as of November, Sam Bradford was the only QB that I felt was worth a top 5 pick. Now that he has a bum shoulder, that's out of the question. So the Browns may have to go best available. They need a lot of positions.
Ted (Dayton Ohio)
I was wondering if you would reopen your debate with Matt Mosley. The AFC North looks stronger then his self proclaimed NCF BEAST.
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Matt Mosley quit debating with me after I punished him the previous two times.
Hi James, based on only play this season, can you rank the QBs of the AFC North? I think we all agree we only need a top 3...
James Walker (4:06 PM)
1. Brady Quinn. 2. Derek Anderson. 3. Josh Cribbs. Just kidding. I would go Ben Roethlisberger, then you can't go wrong either way with Carson Palmer or Joe Flacco. Palmer has the head-to-head edge, though, leading in Sunday's big game.
Steve Ferris (Minot, ND)
After a pretty pourous pass defense against the Vikes, do you think the Steelers will be able to shut down Denver's passin game and make them one dimensional? If so, would that translate to a sure win by Pitt?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I called it last week that I have not been impressed with Denver all season. The Broncos are well coached and winning, but they are not overwhelming people like the Saints and the Colts have. Baltimore exposed them a bit. If you can put points on Denver's defense early, the Broncos are not built to play from behind.
Thin Air (Denver)
Do you know of any other player (beside Clark) that has had a problem playing in Denver?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
I cannot think of any off the top of my head, particularly in the AFC North. I have talked to several players who say the thin air is real. It really is a difference playing in Denver vs. other NFL cities, and it takes some getting use to.
Seabron Ross (Compton(Ca))
Afternoon Mr. Walker when do you see Mr. Andre Smith of the Bengals getting some playing time?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
I think this will be the week Andre Smith makes his debut. The Bengals shouldn't rush him back and make him a starter right away. They are playing well without him. But he can be a sub off the bench to get a few snaps to get his feet wet, before eventually taking over the job for the stretch run.
Bud (ABQ, NM)
Do you think that Gruden would want the Browns job?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I'm not convinced the Browns will make a coaching move. Anything is possible. But I don't get the sense ownership will do anything in that regard right now.
Does it surprise you also that the bengals ravens game is not sold out yet
James Walker (4:15 PM)
No. The Bengals had problems selling out games all year. Some of it is resentment towards ownership but most of it is the economy. I'm not a financial planner. So I don't advise anyone on how to spend their money. But this is the best Bengals team that I've seen play in a while.
Any significant injuries that could impact the Ravens vs. Bengals outcome?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Haloti Ngata has a bum ankle for the Ravens. Baltimore is deep on the defensive line but Ngata is their best one. His status is up in the air right now.
Jack (S. Fla.)
Prediction for the Bengals/Ravens...Steelers/Broncos games?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Jack, you know the deal. I make my picks on Friday in the AFC North blog. As me about matchups.
can the steelers use ryan clark in a reduced role in Denver to minimize risk to his health? Or is it all or nothing?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
That's a great question that I don't have the answer to. I think if Ryan Clark and the Steelers decide to play him, it won't be in a limited role. I don't know enough about sickle cell to determine if a part-time or full-time activity in thin air makes a difference.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
If the Browns want a new President/GM, you don't think they'd want to bring in their own coaching hire?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
That's one of the major questions for the organization. It might come under the assumption that the hire needs to work with Eric Mangini as coach. All of this just went down Monday, so details like this are still to be determined.
why don't the browns sit anderson and give quinn the ball
James Walker (4:24 PM)
There's a very good chance that will happen after the bye, Eric. In fact, my prediction is Brady Quinn will start in Cleveland next game Nov. 16 against the Baltimore Ravens. Quinn had huge contract incentives for 70 percent playing time. The team said it had nothing to do with it, but the facts are out there for everyone to see and make their own determination.
What do you think is the biggest matchup in the Bengals-Ravens game?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
The Ravens D-line vs. Cincy's o-line. The Bengals won that matchup easily the last time. Cedric Benson had a big day and Carson Palmer had time. Since then, the Ravens have turned up the pressure on quarterbacks so it will be interesting to see how much Baltimore improved in the trenches.
If the bengals split the next 2 games they should have a great shot at the divisions with the remainder of the schedule as long as they stay healthy.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
If Cincinnati beats the Ravens or Steelers twice this season by splitting one of these games, that definitely puts them in the driver's seat. This is probably the biggest two weeks of the season for the Bengals.
what has been the bengals problem with not being able to win after the bye week under Marvin
James Walker (4:30 PM)
A little bit of a mystery. I will ask Marvin Lewis that tomorrow. My theory is Cincy wasn't a mentally strong team in the past to handle the extra time off. We will if that has changed.
RJ (Virginia Beach, VA)
Steelers and Ravens, the two best defenses in the league, have both had issues the first half of this season... which do you think is better at this point?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Right now the Steelers' defense is better halfway through the season.
The Wolf (GM-less Cleveland, OH)
Why would any GM candidate want to come to Cleveland right now? Especially for the fact that they have to work with Mangini.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Wolf, there are only 32 of these jobs in the entire world. Someone will always take it.
Dan (Niagara Falls, Ny)
JW, does the Tuna like cold weather? The Clowns desperately need him to turn them back into the Browns.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Bill Parcells isn't coming to Cleveland. Stop it.
Ian (Jackson, Wyoming)
James,With the potential for the Steelers to be without Clark on Monday night, what can you tell us about who will replace him? Is Mundy ready to step in?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
The Steelers have a lot of candidates. But Tyrone Carter and maybe Deshea Townsend would be at the top of the list.
Randy Jeffreys (Raleigh, NC)
Do you agree with Tomlins punishment approach when it comes to players making mistakes on the field. It seems that any error by a RB or WR he sends them to the bench. I believe when a RB or WR has a fumble or dropped pass. The best approach is to keep going to them, to show that you believe in them. What do you think?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Every case is different. But I think Mike Tomlin has as good a feel for those situations than any coach in the league.
RAY GORDON REID ( JACKSON MISSISSIPPI 39201)
QUESTION TO JAMESWALKER AT 4.50 PM HI JAMES WILL RAVENS STELLERS BENGALS BE IN PLAYOFF
James Walker (4:38 PM)
My prediction before the season is only two teams get in. I'm sticking to that prediction.
Rick (New Jersey)
James, what do you think Ryan Clark's chances are of playing in Denver on MNF?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
If it was up to Ryan Clark, 80-20. With the team also involved, 50-50.
Peter Allen (Chestertown, MD)
Howdy ho Sir Walker,CB Lardarius Webb of the Ravens seems to really be stepping up and Frank Walker seems to be causing more problems than solving them. Do you expect Walker to continue to be inactive, or demoted, for the rest of the season in favor of Webb?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
It's hard to say if Frank Walker will be inactive all season, because of injuries. But it does appear the Ravens are going in another direction. So if Webb can continue to play well, he will continue to hold the spot.
any chance quinn refuses to play because he may have been held out to "save" money?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Brady Quinn will play. He's wanted to play all season.
Randy Jeffreys (Raleigh, NC)
Why do you think that Pittsburgh never gets the respect from analyst until the playoffs? It seems every year Pats or Indy get the love. Last time I checked Pittsburgh has more Super Bowls then both in the past 5 years.
James Walker (4:45 PM)
That's life in the AFC North, Randy. I'm used to it. You should be, too.
So, what's the news on Troy Reed? which team is he playing for this week? Or is he going to play on sunday and monday?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
He has a private jet ready to go from Cincinnati to Denver Sunday night. He's waiting for Ryan Clark to make his decision.
Rick (New Jersey)
James, do you think the Steelers' O-line will be able to open up holes for Mendenhall against a pretty stout Denver D?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
I liked Denver's speed and the way the Broncos flow to the football. The problem is they wore down in the second half against Baltimore. I think that's possible again this week, but the home-field advantage makes a difference.
Rick (New Jersey)
James, do you think the Steelers should be ranked higher (7) in the ESPN Power Rankings? I feel they are a better team than the Vikings, Patriots, and Bengals (that loss was a fluke).
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I'm not in the power rankings business this year and, frankly, I haven't thought about ranking the teams at any point this season. But I think the Bengals should be rated ahead of the Steelers because of the head-to-head advantage.
Alex (South Bend)
How well do you think the O-line has started to play for Pittsburgh? Starting to gel?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Yes, I've been impressed with the improvement from Week 1 to now. I've been critical of the team for not making upgrades in the offseason, and early it looks like I was correct. But the past 3-4 games things are looking better up front.
Would you agree with me that the two Steelers that will definately not be on the squad next year are Limas Sweed and Willie Parker?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
I don't see Willie Parker returning. Limas Sweed is under contract, so I would anticipate him getting another chance.
Do you see McGahee working his way back into the Ravens rushing game or are they going to continue to neglect him as long as Rice plays well?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Willis McGahee will get his shot. He had some opportunties early in the season, and not much lately. But the Ravens are sticking with the hot hand right now in Ray Rice. When the weather starts to play a factor, I think Baltimore will need all three backs.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks again for your time, everyone. Don't forget to check out the AFC North blog for constant updates on the division.