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)
Happy Holidays, everyone. The AFC North went 3-1 last weekend. So let's chat about it.
Obviously, Holmgren is making a hugely positive splash here in Cleveland. What has he said that he would do to help our struggling franchise?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Well, Holmgren hasn't said anything officially until next week. The Browns will finalize the details of the contract and Holmgren will hold his first press conference with the media to discuss those things at that time. But the biggest thing I think he needs to do is find the right players. Cleveland's roster is extremely bare right now. The Browns could use additional help at just about every position except kick returner and left tackle.
Hey James whats up? As much as I would like to see the steelers make the playoffs, I don't see much damage being done even with the return of Troy. The D just looks terrible. Your thoughts?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
You never know, Rob. If the Steelers get in, they will be on a three-game winning streak. And in a one-game scenario, I don't think anyone wants to face a team with championship experience and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. They're not playing well overall, but I think they could be dangerous.
Hey James,Earlier in the year I asked you if Ray Rice was the Ravens best player. You thought he was good but not on that level yet. I gotto ask the same question who on the Ravens is playing better than Rice this season?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
Ray Rice is having the best season and is the team's MVP for this year. But I think Ed Reed is still the team's best player. He's special when healthy and probably a future Hall of Famer.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
It's a good thing we are both hurt. It would be hard for us to play every defensive play of the game!
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Troy Reed, how is your knee, foot and groin this week? You're hurting all over.
Ryan (Medford OR)
James, with Mike H. in charge in Cleveland now, can you see a QB change? Even if its drafting a guy 2nd round and having a competition? Quinn I think just lost his chance getting hurt and Anderson is awful.
James Walker (4:09 PM)
These are all things we have to get a feel for once Mike Holmgren takes over. Right now it's all speculation of what he might be thinking. If you want me to guess, I would lean strongly to Holmgren creating a competition or setting up for a change. Most people when they come into a new situation like to bring in players they're most comfortable with, especially quarterbacks.
Mike W (Chicago)
Carson Palmer went almost 2 seasons (12/07) since his last 300 yard game. Will his next one game this season including the playoffs or are we going to have wait another 2 seasons?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
That's a little unfair, Mike. Palmer was hurt for most of last year. It really depends on the game plan. If the Bengals face a team like the Chargers again, they will probably will air it out more.
ceedell1940 (san diego)
The Browns have a lotta of weapons they need to get there coaching arrangement together, but they can be a team of the future.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
The Browns have a lot of weapons? I disagree. The team could be shut out of the Pro Bowl this year if Josh Cribbs doesn't make it on special teams.
Andy (Princeton, Nj)
James, Do you see TP coming back and playing this year for the Steelers. Also, what impact do you see newly acquired Joey Galloway having this late in the year. Thanks
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I don't get a good vibe from the whole Troy Polamalu injury situation. I don't think he returns unless it's a playoff-type scenario. And even then, I'm not sure. I doubt his knee can get to 100 percent for this season.
Christopher (Puerto Rico)
Who would you pick Schaub this weekend or Henne
James Walker (4:16 PM)
I would pick Matt Schaub, Christopher. How is the weather in Puerto Rico?
Chris (Ann Arbor, MI)
We haven't seen Dixon since his good performance vs. the Ravens. I'm surprised, but that's the new Steelers offense - no wrinkles, depend on Ben... Do you think Dixon will play at all without Ben getting injured?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Steelers O-coordinator Bruce Arians doesn't like the Wildcat. So there is really no reason to bring in Dixon over a healthy Roethlisberger unless it is for trick plays. I haven't seen too many tricks from the Steelers this year on offense.
Is Holmgren really a great hire? What does he know about assembling talent? This is a guy who lost that responsibility in Seattle.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
That's a fair point, Mike. I like the Mike Holmgren hire, because it brings instant credibility. Holmgren has won big and been a talent evaluator before. The results were mixed, but at least he's not a first timer like Phil Savage and George Kokinis were. For Cleveland's standards, this was a great coup.
David (Gahanna, OH)
James, do you think Holmgren will fire Eric Mangini?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Looking back at the history of new presidents/GMs taking over a team, odds are Mike Holmgren wants to hire his own person to coach the Browns. That's not 100 percent, but that's been the trend.
Assuming Mangini gets fired. What are the chances Holmgren will keep DC Ryan? I think he has done a good job with the resources he has on that side of the ball.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
If Mike Holmgren decides to make a coaching change, I suspect he will go all the way with it. Ryan runs a 3-4 defense and Holmgren is a 4-3 guy. So if Holmgren changes head coaches, I think he changes coordinators as well.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
With Cleveland having 11 draft choices and several "stop-gap" type players from the Jets currently on the roster, what kind of a roster overhaul are you expecting? 50% or higher? Not that it'd be all that bad on a 3-11 squad.
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Lots of Browns questions today. More than 50 percent would be tough, Chris. That's more than 26 players. I think it will be significant, especially with the starters. What you will see is a lot of new players in key positions.
Despite playing well in San Diego, the Bengals still found a way to lose. Is this what us bengals fans should expect in the playoffs or do you think they can win some postseason games this year?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Bengals fans shouldn't panic. There is no shame in losing to Minnesota and San Diego on the road in back-to-back weeks, especially considering the recent circumstances. Cincinnati will get back on track Sunday against Kansas City and everything will be fine.
John boy (Cincinnati)
Hypothetical. Ravens-Bengals WC game. Who you got?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I will pick the game if it happens, John. I make picks in the AFC North blog every week, and I'm doing pretty good this year, by the way.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When does ESPN set up their Studio at the site of their Monday Night Football game? For Example when does ESPN set up their Studio for their December 28 game at Chicago?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I can't speak on this with great authority, Chris. But the Monday Night Football sets are usually set up on one of the sidelines several hours before the game.
Any word on who the Ravens are going to bring in to replace Webb?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
It looks like Corey Ivy may have the inside track. He was in to take a physical Tuesday, but the team hasn't made anything official. Frank Walker or Chris Carr will probably start Sunday in Pittsburgh.
The Dude (Baltimore)
Any idea if the Ravens - Steelers game will be flexed to the Sunday Night Game?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
No, the time remains the same. These times have to be changed weeks in advance. That would be ironic, though, considering Baltimore asked not to play Pittsburgh this year in primetime.
Colten (South Dakota)
Hi James, If the Browns were to shop Quinn, do you expect him to be a hot comodity? I'm a Broncos fan, and I would be interested to see what McDaniels could do with him
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Good question, Colten. Hot may be a strong word. But I think there would be some interest. The market was fairly warm for Quinn last offseason, but the Browns weren't interested and wanted to see what he could do. I think this offseason Quinn would command less. But if the Browns are willing this time, I'm sure there will be a suitor.
What happend to my skins? i Mean gosh
James Walker (4:45 PM)
The Redskins are already looking towards next year. There is too much going around that team to focus, and the Redskins played like it Monday. Look for significant changes in 2010.
However this season may end, do you think the Bengals will have lasting power? We won the AFC North in 2005 and then did nothing until this year? Is this team built to sustain the success of this year or is more of a one year wonder deal?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
That's a tough one that I have to think more about. I haven't look at their pending free agents and things like that. But I like the young players they have. Let me get back to that one in the offseason.
ryan b (baltimore)
what are the key match ups in the ravens steelers game and who do you see coming out on top?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Whichever team can defend the pass this week likely will win this game. It sounds strange with Pittsburgh and Baltimore. But the secondaries of both teams haven't been good this year, and both coaching staffs are game planning right now to attack those weaknesses.
Could we see Charlie Weis in Clev as an OC??? Mangini on Defense, weis running the offense, and Holmgren watching over it all...looks like a good thing on paper or are there too many chef's in the kitchen then?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
To my knowledge, Mike Holmgren has no connection to Charlie Weis. So I don't expect Weis to come to Cleveland. I don't expect Eric Mangini to take a demotion and become defensive coordinator, either. All of this sounds pretty far-fetched.
raven #1 (baltimore)
if the ravens win out what are the chances of them taking the division and being a number seed?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Not good. The Bengals only need one win and they play the Kansas City Chiefs this week at home. The Bengals probably close that door.
Colten (South Dakota)
Is Quinn's record this season as a starter (2-7) a reflection of his talent/ability or the coaching staff, system, and supporting cast around him?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
You definitely have to consider the lack of telent around Brady Quinn. But part of that record always falls on the quarterback. If I'm Mike Holmgren, I simply watch the game tape of all of his throws this year and make my own determination. I'm not too worried about records.
Lloyd Christmas ( NYC)
At this point, who do you think is playing the best football in the AFC North?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
The Ravens for the past two weeks.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks again for the time, everyone. Enjoy the holidays and remember to check out the AFC North blog.